Selling the Great Outdoors

The most frequently neglected aspect in model home merchandising is the one new home shoppers see first — the great outdoors surrounding the new home.

By Carole Eichen | March 31, 2002


Detailed exterior merchandising of models demonstrates a builder’s commitment to added value that all buyers can appreciate.

The most frequently neglected aspect in model home merchandising is the one new home shoppers see first — the great outdoors surrounding the new home. A bit of attention to this area can go a long way in setting one new home apart from another and increasing buyer recall.

Good reasons to merchandise the exterior spaces in a new community include:





  • It maximizes any size lot. Large lots with fully extended patios help a good house be-come a great one. On smaller lots and in smaller homes, effective exterior merchandising expands living space and helps buyers imagine possibilities that go beyond salable square footage.





  • It presents a commitment to added value that buyers in all price ranges appreciate. Whether in a restaurant, clothing store, movie theater or new home, buyers want to believe they are getting the most for their money. Showing skill and care with exterior spaces presents a value message to buyers that they carry with them as they tour the interior, and in turn, enhances their reaction to the home.





  • It responds to buyers’ more sophisticated shopping sense. The population is getting older and, if not wiser, at least more affluent and savvy about aesthetics. Spend the time and money to show buyers you understand their desire for an enriched living environment.

    Beyond the why to do it is the how to do it. Start with a buyer profile and a thorough study of the demographics and psychographics of this target group. Are they young, casual, just starting out? Are they well-established, discerning, with very particular tastes? Is it an executive family who entertains frequently, or a single buyer focused on his or her career who is home for only short periods of time?


    To make the most of a presentation, pick a theme and then select colors, materials, styles and furnishings that support that theme.
    While the merchandising specifics will vary according to buyer type, tips for effective exterior merchandising for all groups include:





  • Show the rear yard as a wonderful play space, whether that means with swing sets or gourmet patio parties. This is the safe, serene place where buyers can imagine unwinding from the pressures of the day.





  • Look at the lot in the context of size, problem areas and potential. For example, small side yards can be ideal for mini-courts. Is there a space for a fountain off the dining or breakfast room? Can the lot accommodate an outdoor seating area with a trellis for added privacy?

    To make the most of the presentation, settle on a theme — Mediterranean, English country, Santa Fe — and then select the colors, materials, styles, furnishings and accessories that support the choice, inside and out.

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