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PB March 2006

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PB March 2006

Retention Tune-Up

These days, there are many more job opportunities in home building than quality candidates. The best ones are being courted and wooed on an almost daily basis. What keeps employees attracted and loyal to their company?

The Touchpoint Trap

Touchpoints, commonly defined as any direct employee interface with the customer, have become the latest topic for builders who have grabbed a seat at the customer delight cafe.

Hostile Customers

Customer service is the cornerstone upon which successful businesses are built — including those in the home building industry. Exemplary service, however, isn't always enough to ward off the bane of many businesses, commonly known as customers from hell.

Temporarily Permanent

Fifteen years after Hurricane Andrew, the temporary FEMA trailers that were put in place are still being used for housing. No matter how we strive, no matter how much we tear down and replace, no matter how we Americans fall passionately in love with the new and updated, we still end up with a built environment pockmarked by ugly temporary housing.

How to Outsmart, Not Outspend, Your Competition

The D.R. Hortons, Centexes and Toll Brothers of the builder universe have advertising budgets several times the total revenue of many small builders. So how can the little guys get heard in the marketplace when big money talks — loudly? In terms of budgets, sometimes it's not what you have, but how you use it.

NAR Affordability Index Raises Questions

Experts consider housing affordability a primary driver of housing demand. If a buyer's income rises and mortgage rates and/or house prices decline, chances are homes are going to sell like hotcakes...right? Maybe not. The National Association of Realtors' Housing Affordability Index estimates the percentage of a house that a household earning median income can afford.

Ideal Homes Spins Gold from Local MLS Data

Builders can obtain demographics and other economic data from various government and private sources. However, some builders have their own ideas for getting a better read of their marketplace. In addition to tracking real estate deals to uncover emerging trends, builders in some markets have shown the local Multiple Listing Service can be a powerful tool for demand analysis.

Pardee Rolls Out Hybrid SUVs

Pardee Homes gets a lot of mileage marketing its environmental and energy conservation image to home buyers in Southern California and Nevada. Now, the company will get even better mileage as it replaces leased vehicles with hybrid gas-electric cars. As leases come due on company cars, Pardee will phase in 10 Ford Escape Hybrids as its couriers' leases expire.

Putting Options On the Menu

Builders need to serve two masters: their customers and their financial needs. Most people in the industry agree that too much effort goes into selling options, and too many builders give them away for prices below what the market will bear. Builders can make money on upgrades, though. But it takes a good understanding of how to control the selection of options.

Covering your bases

In November 2005, the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commission approved 22 closures, recommended realignment for seven and left five bases open. What does this mean for builders? Those 22 closed bases will eventually appear on the market for sale. In a time of decreasing availability of developable real estate, bases closings can provide some of the largest expanses of undeveloped and valuable land in the country.
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