Could some of the most in-demand housing markets be cooling off?
Trademarked Product Targets Boomers
Two years ago,when the baby boomers started turning 50, Randy Sebastian formulated a strategy to capture that market.
Two years ago, when the baby boomers started turning 50, Randy Sebastian formulated a strategy to capture that market. The Portland, Ore. builder applied his experience with the custom/luxury market to an entirely new product line: production housing for aging boomers.
Sebastian’s company, Renaissance Custom Homes of West Linn, is building a line of 2000- to 2400-square-foot houses, priced from $200,000 to $300,000. Collectively known as Woodbridge Custom Homes, they offer, in Sebastian’s words, "$500,000 worth of quality in a $300,000 house." Sales started in February 1999; at press time, he had sold 22 houses for an average price of $300,000.
Pollard-Hosmar Design, Portland, developed five base models, each with two elevation choices. They express a Pacific Northwest Craftsman theme, with rustic exteriors that integrate porches and broad roof overhangs. The style strikes an emotional chord with local buyers, who find it reminiscent of their childhood homes, Sebastian says. Master suites and living areas are located on the first floor, with guest bedrooms and baths upstairs. In addition, most plans have a den that can be used as a home office, and all include upgraded wiring. Pollard-Hosmar eliminated the formal living room and jazzed up the master suite, great room and dining room with open-beam, vaulted ceilings.
The color and design palettes, created by Portland architect-designer Michael Stueve, utilize rich, muted hues such as mustard, sage and mocha, mixed with granite and other natural materials. "The interiors feel hip, like a Starbucks coffee shop," Sebastian says. "We got away from brass hardware and we’re using brushed nickel instead." About 100 options are available, including granite countertops, cherry cabinets, butler’s pantries and built-ins. The only thing buyers can’t upgrade are the exteriors, he says, because the idea is to create theme neighborhoods with a consistent look.
Woodbridge Custom Homes is a registered trade name for the state of Oregon and in the application phase in other western states, owned by Renaissance Development Inc. The line is currently offered at two locations in northwest Portland and West Linn. Sebastian has earmarked 500 lots for the product in Portland alone and plans to expand to the San Francisco and Seattle markets next year. He expects to sell 100 houses in 1999 and 200 in 2000.
Coming of Age