PB November 2005

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Features

Mother Nature is ironic. As one part of the country was being saturated by rain and flood waters, the rest of the country was suffering one of the longest droughts on record. Lush lawns baked to a golden straw; blooming buds dried as quickly as they grew. Home builders and owners alike were desperate to conserve any water Mother Nature delivered. Enter rainwater harvesting.

The majority of real estate developers look to increase their potential investment return by using other people's money. Assuming that the rate of return for the project is greater than the interest rate for the debt, the more debt placed on a property, the higher the potential return. The use of borrowed capital to make an investment, called leveraging, does not always guarantee a return.

A mid-August poll published in USA Today indicated 71 percent of respondents would accept a tax hike to keep developers away from their property. I don't know who asked the survey question, nor do I know how it was asked, but I'd like to see the details. I know I could blow huge holes in it.

Lights. Camera. ProductsThis month we feature the latest in lighting.

I recently returned from Professional Builder's Benchmark Conference where I feasted on a cornucopia of educational seminars served up by some of the best minds inside and outside our industry. One of those was Ram Charan, an acclaimed adviser, author and teacher to some of the world's most successful companies.

If successful home building was a recipe, the ingredient list might look something like this: one part skilled builder and trades; one part good land and floor plans; two parts satisfied customers. Because customer satisfaction is such an integral part of the home building recipe, builders are focusing more than ever on improving their customer satisfaction ratings.

Statistics show that "Be back" customers — those returning for a second or third visit — are almost four times as likely as new prospects to purchase a home. What is the goal with "Be back" customers? Does the approach change for a first time customer? This month, we sit down with new home sales professionals Stacy Hair, Jeff Kaizer and Debra Dunaway to discuss "Be backs" versus new prospects.

In today's highly competitive marketplace, building product manufacturers have to work hard at establishing relationships with their savvy builder-customers. Fortunately, hard work doesn't go unnoticed. Builders appreciate the extra mile a product manufacturer is willing to go to ensure customer loyalty.

David Hale, President of Hale Development discusses what products he won't build without.

Editorial Director Paul Deffenbaugh invites readers to check us out!

Lambert Arceneaux is thriving on the "unofficial design revitalization" he sees taking place in Houston's historic neighborhoods. Following success as a remodeler on historic jobs, he formed Allegro Builders in 1997 and has delighted mostly upscale couples in neighborhoods like his current favorite, Houston Heights, a century-old planned community.

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Ashton Woods launched Starlight Homes to target entry-level home...

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