Wednesday, July 30, 2014
FAIRFIELD-SUISUN, CALIFORNIA
99 CENTS

Builders guard sales gadgets that help market new homes

NEW HOUSING SALES

The sales center for Valencia Reserve, a 55-plus community in Boynton Beach, Fla., offers a site map and floor plans for prospective buyers. (Jenniver Podis/Palm Beach Poast/MCT)

The new home sales center, once a supermarket of paint colors and cabinet designs, now sells something more, something less tangible than granite countertops.

Condensed in tricked-out double-wide trailers with free coffee and scones, the American ethos of opportunity – and tennis – oozes from carefully designed showcases worthy of an Epcot exhibit and so secret that developers are often loath to share the details.

Sunrise, Fla.-based builder GL Homes politely declined to discuss, or demonstrate, its super-charged, proprietary technology that allows buyers to manipulate visions of their potential home on a touch-screen model of the community, even though the public can freely wander its sales centers.

A Colorado designer said she was barred for years by a developer from taking pictures of sales centers she set up for fear the competition would copycat. The builder relented recently, defeated by shared images on the Internet.

From the wattage of the lights to the scents in the air, sales centers for new homes have evolved, orchestrating a feeling of not just what your new home will be, but who you will be when you buy it.

“The building side of the home industry wants to make buying a home a journey where you are creating the dream,” said Lita Dirks, CEO of the Denver-based design and consultancy firm Lita Dirks & Co. “It’s an atmosphere where the buyer can make it happen, in the spot they want it to happen and at the moment they want it to happen.”

Developers have jumped back in the home-building business in the past two years, buying up land and gussying up sales centers that were quiet during the recession.

In January, GL Homes debuted its sales center at Valencia Cove, a new 55-plus community west of Boynton Beach, Fla. Toll Brothers is working on a revamp of its Jupiter (Fla.) Country Club sales center, which opened at the peak of the market in 2006 but has seen most of its activity in the past two years.

The introduction of technology has been the key change in home center design, said Linda Cohen, vice president of marketing for the Pennsylvania-based Toll Brothers.

Homebuyers can find so much out about communities online, such as designs, pricing and the site plan of the neighborhood, that they don’t need as much procedural information from the sales center.

Where once the walls may have been covered with only printouts of floor plans and bulleted design details, now there are accessories that try to evoke an emotional response.

“Today, when people walk in, we’re promoting a lifestyle,” Cohen said. “We have photos of the amenities that we offer, photos of the schools, maps of points of interest, grocery stores, where they want to shop.”

While buyers are still likely to come across the massive Monopoly board-style 3-D community renderings – called “topo,” or topography tables in the business – Toll Brothers is also adding “interactive site plan tables” where buyers can see videos about the community and pull up maps, all while digitally designing a home and choosing a specific lot.

Cohen said Jupiter Country Club will have three such electronic tables when its sales center redesign is complete. The “topo” map will be removed.

“It only serves one purpose, showing the map,” Cohen said.

Todd Harff, president of Creating Results, a marketing firm that focuses on senior consumers, disagrees. A design by Harff’s Virginia-based company for a sales center at a 55-plus community won top honors at this year’s International Builders Show. It included the topo map.

Harff said baby boomer buyers, while familiar with technology, still gravitate to a topography table, which can act as an anchor for socialization, like an island in a kitchen. Salespeople can still use technology, but they are guides through the process rather than the buyer directing themselves.

“With the 55-plus, we recognize they will still need some traditional displays,” said Harff, who also uses brighter lighting in 55-plus sales centers to increase the feeling of vitality. “But even in our younger communities, we find there’s something just familiar about standing around a topo table that leads people to spend time there.”

And lingering is what builders want. Cafes and front porches with sitting areas are typical features of new sales centers. More subtle additions include added scents that match the lifestyle being sold. A beachside community may have ocean overtones in the air, while a property with lots of trees may add a pine fragrance.

Other innovations include having buyers sign-in on iPads, which salespeople can then use during tours of model homes to jot down what the prospect likes about each design. At the end, a personalized brochure can be printed out for the buyer while the builder gets feedback electronically about likes and dislikes

“One of the great things is builders can personalize what they do with the homebuyer,” said Doug Sylvester, senior director of products for the company BDX in Austin, Texas.

Sylvester, whose company designs computer kiosks and other innovations for sales centers, said technology started to creep in several years ago but has been on a fast-track in the past 12 months.
That’s about the time frame for when GL Homes introduced its proprietary computer program at The Bridges sales center. The high-end Bridges community is west of Delray Beach, Fla.

Designed in-house by GL Homes, the software allows buyers to see how their preferred home design will look and fit on specific lots with a 360-degree view of the home and community.
GL Homes Division President Marcie DePlaza said other builders have offered to buy the software, but GL Homes isn’t sharing.

“When you go into other places, you’ll see things similar to what we’ve done, but the 360 spin of the house, that’s what they really don’t have,” she said. “All talking about (the program) does is bring more builders into our offices.”

Mcclatchy-Tribune News Service

LEAVE A COMMENT

Discussion | No comments

The Daily Republic does not necessarily condone the comments here, nor does it review every post. Read our full policy

.

Solano News

Solano County Fair set to open Wednesday

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A1 | Gallery

 
Marketing study looks at Berryessa resorts

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A1, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Library teens plan summer reading party

By Glen Faison | From Page: A3

Fairfield tries to end Cordelia Road detour

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 15 Comments | Gallery

 
Caltrans makes I-80 lane change

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 5 Comments

 
Police arrest suspected intruder

By Barry Eberling | From Page: A3, 2 Comments | Gallery

Activity is Medicine program coming to Suisun senior center

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A3

 
 
Big-rig crash shuts down freeway onramp

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A5, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Big-rig driver strikes telephone lines in Fairfield

By Ryan McCarthy | From Page: A6, 2 Comments | Gallery

 
Icon sends first A5 into the skies on maiden flight

By Susan Winlow | From Page: B7

 
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ primed for big screen

By Amy Maginnis-Honey | From Page: A7 | Gallery

Suisun City police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: July 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Suisun City police log: June 27, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

 
Fairfield police log: July 28, 2014

By Glen Faison | From Page: A12

Weather for Wedneday, July 30, 2014

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B14

 
.

US / World

Hamas demands for cease-fire and Israel’s concerns

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1, 1 Comment

 
Israel hits symbols of Hamas rule; scores killed

By The Associated Press | From Page: A1

Fist bumps less germy than handshakes, study says

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2 | Gallery

 
New California fines for wasting water take effect

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

California lifeguard injured by lightning improves

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
PG&E charged with obstruction over San Bruno blast

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

Chevron California refinery overhaul up for vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A5

 
Tuberculosis patient who refused care is arrested

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

4 charged with murder in death of USC student

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8

 
Crews make gains on 2 California wildfires

By The Associated Press | From Page: A8 | Gallery

Last crew member of Enola Gay dies in Georgia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9

 
Poll: Immigration concerns rise with tide of kids

By The Associated Press | From Page: A9 | Gallery

Shelling adds to mounting civilian toll in Ukraine

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10

 
US, Europe impose tough new sanctions on Russia

By The Associated Press | From Page: A10 | Gallery

Generation of tanners see spike in deadly melanoma

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate confirms McDonald as VA secretary

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12 | Gallery

Body of young stowaway found in US cargo plane

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Report: Health premiums rose significantly in 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Highway, bridge money at risk: Senate to vote

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

 
Senate bill would end NSA phone records collection

By The Associated Press | From Page: A12

Liberians in US worry about Ebola outbreak

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

 
Top doctor dies from Ebola after treating dozens

By The Associated Press | From Page: A13

.

Opinion

Red light camera fate now uncertain in state

By Thomas Elias | From Page: A11

 
Obscure state agency creates big money problems

By Dan Walters | From Page: A11

Some people have missed the drought memo

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 4 Comments

 
What kids don’t know would shock you

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11, 10 Comments

 
Cemetery support committee thanks sponsors

By Letter to the Editor | From Page: A11

.

Living

Community Calendar: July 30, 2014

By Susan Hiland | From Page: A2

 
What to do when ‘it’ hits the fan

By Barton Goldsmith | From Page: A2

Today in History for July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: A2

 
I like Liam, but I think he’s interested in another girl

By Kathy Mitchell and Marcy Sugar | From Page: B5

Horoscopes for July 30, 2014

By Holiday Mathis | From Page: B5

 
A do-ahead dinner to make back-to-school smoother

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

You too can bake artisanal quality bread at home

By Elizabeth Karmel | From Page: B6

 
A healthy afterschool snack that eats like a treat

By The Associated Press | From Page: B6

.

Entertainment

TVGrid

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B7

 
Music aside, Queen of Soul is pumped for fair food

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7

Sarah Palin launches online subscription channel

By The Associated Press | From Page: A7, 1 Comment | Gallery

 
‘Sharknado’ sequel has bite and lots of laughs

By Frazier Moore | From Page: A7 | Gallery

.

Sports

NCAA settles head-injury suit, will change rules

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

 
49ers WR Brandon Lloyd enjoying return to NFL

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1

Schaub settles in as Raiders starting QB

By The Associated Press | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Fairfield Indians blank Next Level Athletic to win SRL tournament title

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B1 | Gallery

 
Mudcats tie Vacaville Admirals

By Daily Republic staff | From Page: B2

No joke: Kings’ Cousins hopes for Team USA shot

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Liriano fans 11 in Pirates’ 3-1 win

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Athletics rally for 6 runs in 9th, beat Astros 7-4

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2 | Gallery

 
Husband arrested in death of NBA player’s aunt

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

Triple-A brawl results in 11 suspensions

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Broken water main floods UCLA; 5 people rescued

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

49ers sign former Cardinals RB Alfonso Smith

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
Vin Scully to return for 66th season in LA in 2015

By The Associated Press | From Page: B2

 
This date in sports history for Wednesday, July 30, 2014

By The Associated Press | From Page: B3

.

Business

Study: 35 percent in US facing debt collectors

By The Associated Press | From Page: B7

 
McDonald’s could be liable for labor practices

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Food writers subpoenaed in ‘pink slime’ lawsuit

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
Stocks end lower ahead of economic data

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

Twitter 2Q results soar, stock flies high

By The Associated Press | From Page: B8

 
.

Obituaries

Jack L Hudack

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Robert Dale Myers Sr.

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Clifford C. Hemler

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
Jeanetta M. Hale

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

Patricia Jo McDonald

By Nancy Green | From Page: A4

 
.

Comics

Sally Forth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Dilbert

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Zits

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Beetle Bailey

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Get Fuzzy

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Pickles

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baldo

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Wizard of Id

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Baby Blues

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Peanuts

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Rose is Rose

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
For Better or Worse

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Garfield

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Blondie

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

Frank and Ernest

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B4

 
Sudoku

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Bridge

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Word Sleuth

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

Cryptoquote

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5

 
Crossword

By Daily Republic Syndicated Content | From Page: B5