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2023 Nationals Winners: Home Building Sales and Marketing Magicians

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The Nationals

2023 Nationals Winners: Home Building Sales and Marketing Magicians

Meet the people and teams recognized by NAHB's 2023 National Sales and Marketing awards as the talent behind award-winning sales and marketing efforts in home building 

By Diane Kittower and Sandra Gurvis April 17, 2023
2023 Nationals winners in the People and Teams category
This article first appeared in the March/April 2023 issue of Pro Builder.

This selection of winners from the National Association of Home Builders' (NAHB) annual National Sales and Marketing Awards (“The Nationals”) honors the people and teams working in new-home sales and marketing across the nation. Whether it's through brochures and signage, model home merchandising, or innovative virtual tours, these industry professionals excel at engaging homebuyers and meeting, or exceeding, their expectations for what a new-home and new-home community can deliver.



2023 Nationals winner Mariah Threet



Mariah Threet

Rookie Sales Professional of the Year—Gold Award
Tilson Homes
Waco, Texas


Mariah Threet had been with Tilson Homes in Houston for just 18 months when the company nominated her for Rookie Sales Professional of the Year. She started as an assistant and quickly moved into a sales role, demonstrating a customer-centric approach noted by colleagues and appreciated by customers, who gave her five-star Google reviews. 

“She has been proactive in sharing schedules and process details and is always available should we have questions along the way,” says one customer.

Threet earned those reviews while spending a year working in a temporary trailer on the jobsite after Tilson Homes paused model home construction. But those conditions didn’t faze her; she used the company website to showcase homes and pointed customers to the builder’s 11 other sales parks that included models.

Even as a “rookie,” she already helps train other sales counselors. “I feel like having empathy is one of the key factors to connecting and selling, so that is emphasized in my training,” Threet says. —Diane Kittower




Casey Gerwer 

Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award
J. Anthony Custom Homes
Lucas, Texas

2023 Nationals winner Casey Gerwer

Before joining Texas builder J. Anth­ony Custom Homes in 2018, Casey Gerwer had been a real estate broker and had also worked in business development for a mort­gage company.

That work experience taught her the importance of knowing her audience. “Learning your audience builds trust and creates longevity in the relationship,” she says, “which is so important during the home building process.”

Gerwer is involved not only in sales but also in pricing homes from plans to contract, a practice she says benefits the builder and the client: “I feel that as a salesperson, and assisting in the design of the home, pricing is more accurate as I capture more of the details the clients and I have discussed.” 

Home design is well within her bailiwick, too, as she studied architecture in college for two years.

Gerwer also happens to be the mother of 15-year-old quadruplets. “Since they were born,” she says, “they have been my daily reminders about time management.” —D.K.


2023 Nationals winner Berry Staub



Berry Staub

Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award
Shea Homes
Scottsdale, Ariz. 

Like many other builders, Shea Homes, in Scottsdale, Ariz., turned to technology as the pandemic limited in-person contact. Fortunately, the office could count on community representative Berry Staub, a 21-year-veteran, to supply information for self-guided model home tours and to voice virtual selling sessions.

Shea’s 30-minute self-guided tours allow people to visit models after hours and during holidays. During the tours, when prospects ask Alexa-scripted questions, Staub would provide the answers. She also voice-recorded information sessions—essentially online tours of each floor plan—to launch the company’s new process of selling virtually. 

Technology is valuable, but Staub also appreciates synergy. When she found herself with the only active sales office in the area’s East Valley, Staub decided it would be appropriate—and fun—to have all Valley team members join her office’s monthly lunches. “We could all check in with one another,” she says. “It was energizing and maintained and strengthened our working relationships.” —D.K.




Lucy Hudson, Holly Pulliam, Kevin Cui, and Chelsea Davis

Sales Team of the Year—Leasing—Gold Award
The Marketing Directors
New York

2023 Nationals winners Lucy Hudson, Holly Pulliam, Kevin Cui, and Chelsea Davis

How do you succeed when you and your marketing team colleagues are all new to one another and you’re working on a new leasing project in a neighborhood that’s not familiar to any of you? 

If you’re Lucy Hudson, Holly Pulliam, Kevin Cui, and Chelsea Davis, you focus on your training, dig into learning about the project and its environs together, and communicate honestly.

During their several weeks of training, the team studied in the classroom and on site at the new luxury Stella apartments, in New Rochelle, N.Y. Together, they ate lunch, walked the city, explored food and shopping options near Stella, and had the occasional happy hour. Adding to their team-building experience was the need to quickly learn five digital operating systems—two of which were new to the trainer as well.

The team succeeded in creating urgency by offering incentives and—since Stella quickly reached 85% occupancy—informing potential tenants that the apartment they’d seen and now wanted had already been leased. —D.K.


2023 Nationals winners Micah Ross and Hella Formariz



Micah Ross and Hella Formariz

Sales Team of the Year—Sales—Silver Award
Shea Homes
San Diego

Two heads are better than one, as the saying goes, and Micah Ross and Hella Formariz prove that’s true. The Shea Homes sales team in San Diego functions seamlessly, always in communication and able to step in to answer questions for each other. “There is never a beat skipped,” Ross says.

Ross and Formariz put their teamwork to good use, maintaining an interest list of 6,000 names. Each month, they send out a recap to the entire list with status reports about the construction process, total number of homes sold, and what phase is being offered for sale. In addition, they recently began sending regular texts to people on the list, which they say has netted them a number of sales.

Meanwhile, they’re also paying attention to the backlog list, keeping those customers engaged via catered lunches where people can meet future neighbors and start building friendships in the community even before they move in. —D.K.





Elena Mora

Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Gold Award
Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods
Norman, Okla.

2023 Nationals winner Elena Mora

For 14 years, Elena Mora was the only online sales counselor (OSC) for Ideal Homes & Neighborhoods, and also one of the first OSCs in the country. She worked seven days a week, 10 hours a day, before acquiring a partner in 2020. That schedule may have overwhelmed some people, but Mora exceeded benchmarks and created processes to boost customer engagement.

She attributes her high conversion rates—one measurement by an outside company had Mora leading Ideal to a 36% rate of sales from appointments versus the benchmark of 19%—to being patient and nonjudgmental when prospects aren’t initially responsive. 

One of her new processes focuses on follow-up, the other on prospecting. The follow-up process combines templated emails with text messages, phone calls, and video texts to quickly answer customer questions and provide relevant information. For prospecting, Mora and her partner send an evergreen video each month on a chosen topic, such as price reductions, followed by two texts and a call to give prospects plenty of opportunity to say whether they still want information or are no longer interested. —D.K.


2023 Nationals winner Kari Rowell



Kari Rowell

Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award
M/I Homes
Sarasota, Fla.

Kari Rowell, an online sales counselor for M/I Homes, has always loved social media, so becoming a video influencer for the builder was a natural next step.

Rowell posts her videos on Instagram, Facebook, BombBomb, and LinkedIn, saying they build trust with potential buyers as well as educating them, leading to a number of sales. She averaged 200 phone interactions per week between October 2021 and October 2022.

Working in the home building industry was a natural step for Rowell: Her 19th-century ancestors built some of the first structures in Florida, and her grandfather and parents were builders. “I grew up coloring elevations from the copy machine, running through the model homes, and climbing on the fill piles,” she says.

Rowell got her college degree in construction management and now uses that knowledge to great effect in talking with prospective buyers. She says her ability to explain the construction process helps to build trust with prospects. —D.K.




Diana Carroll

Marketing Professional of the Year for a Builder/Developer—Gold Award
Hillwood Communities

2023 Nationals winner Diana Carroll

When Diana Carroll joined Dallas-based Hillwood Com­munities as marketing manager three years ago, she brought to the job a background that includes work in health care communications and advertising agencies, as well as a degree in graphic design. Carroll tapped that multifaceted experience to create a rewards program for real estate agents and to improve the effectiveness of Hillwood’s website as a marketing tool.

Before setting up the rewards program for the builder, Carroll did her homework to make sure it would be effective by looking at similar programs, researching how to choose gifts, and reviewing real estate agents’ sales histories in order to set goals. The program has succeeded in winning agents’ loyalty, attracting new agents, and has increased the number of agents who have repeat sales in the builder’s communities, Carroll says.

Her experience as a director of website design and development also provided insights into how to strengthen the builder’s website as a lead-generation tool, although she notes: “Websites, just like marketing, are never set-it-and-forget-it.” —D.K.


2023 Nationals winner Susan Moody



Susan Moody

Rookie Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award
Rose & Womble Realty
Suffolk, Va.

Massive professional and personal challenges awaited Susan Moody during her first year at Rose & Womble. While mastering the many complexities of new-home sales, she also began training for a Senior Real Estate Specialist designation.

Since many of her active-adult prospects were unfamiliar with homebuying technology and the adaptive features their homes would need to accommodate changing needs as they age, Moody exercised patience, empathy, and experience—a legacy from her volunteer service with Meals on Wheels, disabled veterans, and other organizations.

But then Moody’s 9-month-old grand­-nephew Zander was diagnosed with an inoperable liver tumor. “It affected the entire team,” recalls Joanna Mitzel, Rose & Womble’s sales manager and director of training. Thus began a roller coaster of chemotherapy, surgery, and recovery for Zander that “took five steps forward and 10 steps back,” Moody recalls.

But both Moody and Zander persisted. “Susan continued to sell and guide her active-adult buyers to settlement without a hitch,” Mitzel says, to the tune of some $19.7 million in net closed sales revenue for 2021-22. And Zander is now cancer-free. —Sandra Gurvis




Sam Rangel

Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award
Esperanza Homes
McAllen, Texas

Although he spent his entire 18-year career in new-home sales, closed an average of 51 net sales per year within the last five years (some $10.5 million in 2021-22 alone), boasts a 93.7% customer satisfaction score, and has enviable rapport with both clients and co-workers, Sam Rangel isn’t your typical outgoing salesperson type.

Despite being private and introverted, “He’s the ‘glue guy’ who holds my entire sales team of 33 sales professionals together,” says Shant Samtani, VP of sales at Esperanza Homes. “I credit Sam with turning my sales team into a family where he acts as the ‘big brother,’” providing constructive criticism, encouragement, and serving as a role model for long-term career success.

In addition to enrolling customers in Esperanza’s credit repair program, Rangel goes the extra mile, preparing for every scenario regardless of the market, says Samtani, so buyers can achieve the home of their dreams. “Sam’s focus on the words he uses and in perfecting his tone and body language set him apart,” Samtani adds. “He has the maturity to understand that to win, someone else doesn’t necessarily have to lose, and that speaks volumes.” —S.G.


2023 Nationals winner Jerrad Izaguirre



Jerrad Izaguirre

Sales Professional of the Year—Gold Award
Stylecraft Builders
Temple, Texas

Whether it’s selling cemetery plots, cars, or single-family homes, or helping co-workers, prospects, or neighbors, Jerrad Izaguirre is “the kind of guy everyone describes as their favorite,” says Jessi Kelly, Stylecraft Builders’ chief operating officer.

Izaguirre’s adaptability has paid dividends. During his seven years with Stylecraft, he’s been responsible for selling each of the 350 homes in the builder’s North Gate community, doing much of the marketing on his own, and single-handedly building visibility of the product, community, and location.

All that plus managing pandemic-related delays, product shortages, and price increases. “Jerrad works closely with buyers to manage expectations and provides ongoing communication with updates, addressing all concerns, including sometimes directing prospects to other builders if Stylecraft isn’t the right fit,” says Chad Sanschagrin, founder and CEO of Cannonball Moments’ sales and leadership coaching. “It’s a customer-centric approach that’s brought him many referrals.” —S.G.




Steve Cicekian and Alex Leung

Sales Team of The Year—Silver Award
Emblem Developments

2023 Nationals winners Steve Cicekian and Alex Leung

In addition to an impressive $135 million (USD) worth of sales in 2021-22, Steve Cicekian and Alex Leung also created two innovative programs to increase sales and assist other brokers. 

Their EMBLEM formula focuses on educating agents, buyers, and other key stakeholders in all aspects of sales, allowing them to easily adapt to changing environments. 

With that, they were part of a team that developed a proprietary, web-based sales platform that improves and simplifies the speed, efficiency, and security of writing contracts by using automated worksheets for agents, providing a consistent database throughout the entire process.

Cicekian and Leung also drew lessons from difficulties they encountered in launching EMBLEM’s Design District, a high-rise condo project in Toronto’s Hamilton district. Launched a week after a 1% interest hike by the Federal Reserve, the project suffered a dearth of buyer demand for condo living outside the city center. In response, the duo created enticing incentives, ranging from discounts to extended deposits, and even a Louis Vuitton gift valued at $3,500 (CAN). “Steve and Alex are the perfect forward-looking sales team,” says Alona Sadovska, EMBLEM’s marketing lead. —S.G.


2023 Nationals winner Courtney Schmitter



Courtney Schmitter

Rookie Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Gold Award
Stevens Fine Homes
Wilmington, N.C.

In April 2022, when sales agent Courtney Schmitter took on the position of online sales counselor, a brand-new job at Stevens Fine Homes, she had just returned from maternity leave after the birth of her daughter Bailey.

The working mom was tasked with setting up an online sales program from scratch, establishing workflows and procedures, and evaluating new software/tech solutions, all while working remotely. And, along with being the first point of contact for new customers, Schmitter was still responsible for clients under contract for the homes she’d sold before becoming an OSC. 

Then Bailey was hospitalized with respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a respiratory disease that can be especially severe in infants. “Courtney could have easily thrown in the towel on the OSC, but she stuck it out,” says Naomi Wright, the builder’s marketing lead. 

Instead, Courtney juggled childcare and frequent doctors’ visits while exchanging emails and phone calls with clients, who had no idea of her personal challenges.

In the aftermath, both Bailey and home sales are thriving. Along with closing her existing contracts, Schmitter established an online component that now drives 72.5% of the builder’s sales, Wright says. “Our sales team has come to almost exclusively rely on Courtney for their leads.” —S.G. 



Luckie Sloane, Faith Burns, Taylor Wood, Carolyn Pfau,
Mia Duebner, Jana Hill, and Kari Ferrell

Online Sales Team of the Year—Gold Award
Tilson Homes

2023 Nationals winners Luckie Sloane, Faith Burns, Taylor Wood, Carolyn Pfau, Mia Duebner, Jana Hill, and Kari Ferrell

Despite a year fraught with inflation and interest rate increases, labor and materials shortages, and prospect and customer frustration with these challenges, the Tilson Homes online sales team achieved an average sales contribution of more than 70% and a lead-to-appointment ratio that’s “off the charts,” says Dawn Dantzler, Tilson’s VP of marketing and customer experience.

Tilson’s “on your land” approach to home building also has its challenges. Along with already having acquired property that is sometimes in a remote or rural area, buyers often expect to build their “forever” or retirement home. “There may not be community amenities, nearby shopping, proximity to the newest school, or any number of other enticements OSCs normally have at their disposal,” says Eric Alarid, Tilson Homes’ SVP.

The “Magnificent Seven” found time to not only train the on-site team in Tilson’s new customer relationship management (CRM) system, but also had dedicated office hours to answer questions and provide individual tutoring, Dantzler says, “resulting in a handoff rate that went from 68% in January to 97% in September.” The team also mentored and organized roundtable discussions with OSCs at similar builders. —S.G.


2023 Nationals winner Taylor Humphrey



Taylor Humphrey 

Sales Manager / Leader of the Year—Gold Award
Pacesetter Homes DFW
McKinney, Texas

As a key strategic business partner with sales in more than a dozen communities and supervising twice as many employees, including 18 full-time salespeople, Taylor Humphrey had plenty on his plate. 

Yet at the end of 2021, with new staff who had different backgrounds and skill levels, Humphrey saw the need for a more in-depth training. The result: Pacesetter University, an in-house, year-long program that covers all of the topics a high-level salesperson should understand, including product knowledge, construction, land features, negotiating, finance, and more. 

In addition to the sales team, the marketing, contracts, and closing departments also enrolled in the university. And although initially created for the Dallas-Fort Worth office, the program has since been adopted companywide throughout the builder’s locations in North America.

Yet, despite his massive organizational skills, ambition, and success (289 net home sales worth nearly $148 million in 2021-22), “Taylor is a humble leader,” says Ryan Taft, senior consultant at Shore Consulting. “He’s always asking, ‘Is there anything I could be doing better to help my team?’ and he is driven to help others succeed while providing an unparalleled customer experience for his homeowners.” —S.G. 


More Winners in the People and Teams Categories in the 2022 Nationals Awards

  • Alex Vaynrokh    Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award, The Marketing Directors, Jersey City, N.J.
  • Andy Tungka    Sales Professional of the Year—Gold Award, Roseland/Liberty Harbor, Weehawken and Jersey City, N.J.
  • Arden Stehling    Rookie Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award, Tilson Homes, Georgetown, Texas
  • Cassie Cataline    Marketing Professional of the Year for a Builder/Developer—Silver Award, Brookfield Properties Development, Summerville, S.C.
  • Catherine Smith, Ian Balderston, Jacqueline Lobdell    Online Sales Team of the Year—Silver Award, Van Metre Homes, Virginia
  • Collin Ellingson and Debi Baker    Sales Team of the Year – Two or More People—Silver Award, Etco Homes, Pacific Palisades, Calif.
  • David Martin    Sales Manager/Leader of the Year—Silver Award, Challenger Homes, Denver
  • Edwin Blanco    Sales Manager/Leader of the Year—Silver Award, China Overseas America/ Golden Glades Capital Management/ Adoni Property Group/ Denholtz Properties, Jersey City, Franklin Lakes, and Red Bank, N.J.
  • Elizabeth Heike, Karla Mena, and Nicole Arms    Online Sales Team of the Year—Silver Award, Empire Communities, Vaughan, Ontario
  • Faith Burns    Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award, Tilson Homes, Houston
  • Hannah Yoo    Marketing Professional of the Year for a Builder/Developer—Silver Award, The Marketing Directors, N.Y. and N.J.
  • Joanna Phelps Mitzel    Sales Manager/Leader of the Year—Silver Award, Various, Suffolk, Va.
  • Laura Matson and David Waha    Online Sales Team of the Year—Silver Award, Trumark Homes, Newport Beach, Calif.
  • Lauren Carroll, Jodi Smillie, Dan Flomen, Sofia Poshni, and Sarah Calder    Sales Team of the Year – Two or More People—Silver Award, Empire Communities, Vaughan, Ontario
  • Liberty Martin    Rookie Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award, Trumark Homes, Newport Beach, Calif.
  • Lindsay Haltom    Marketing Professional of the Year for a Builder/Developer—Silver Award, Homes by Taber, Oklahoma City, Okla.
  • Mia Duebner    Rookie Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Tilson Homes    Houston
  • Michael Baker    Rookie Sales Professional of the Year—Silver Award    Challenger Homes    Elmhurst, Ill.
  • New Home Star OSC Team    Online Sales Team of the Year—Silver Award    New Home Star    Elmhurst, Ill.
  • Preslee Harrald    Rookie Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Simmons Homes    Owasso, Okla.
  • Shannon Marler, Paris Bieber, and Josh Selleck    Online Sales Team of the Year—Silver Award    Tri Pointe Homes    Las Vegas, Nev.
  • Sofia Godoy    Rookie Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Stone Martin Builders    Alabama and Georgia
  • Tawny Swink    Marketing Professional of the Year for a Builder/Developer—Silver Award    Tri Pointe Homes Arizona    Scottsdale, Ariz.
  • Terrell Turner    Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Epcon Communities    Charlotte, N.C.
  • The Vincent Condos    Sales Team of the Year – Two or More People—Gold Award    Rosehaven Homes    Mississauga, Ontario 
  • Tosha Flores    Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Tri Pointe Homes    Dallas
  • Tristen Berry    Rookie Online Sales Counselor of the Year—Silver Award    Schuber Mitchell Homes    Joplin, Mo.
  • Whitney Harvey    Sales Manager/Leader of the Year—Silver Award    Magnolia Homes    Collierville, Tenn.



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