If you want to know what makes a great master-planned community, you need to listen to Bob McLeod of Newland, one of the biggest and best master developers in the nation. Bringing 50 years of experience and having sold tens of thousands of homes, Bob shares some of his priceless lessons learned.
Building Great Communities
Some of those lessons are:
- You need to give buyers diverse product. A masterplan is a lot like an auto dealership—and Bob should know, he used to run one. You need different home types—detached, townhomes, apartments—the way a successful car dealer needs sedans, pickups, and SUVs.
- You need to be geographically diverse too. Having a big footprint helps, particularly during a downturn, because different places act differently during different parts of a housing cycle. This can even be true within a market. So if the energy sector crashes in Houston or aerospace in Southern California, you can still succeed somewhere else.
- Having a long-term view and a financial partner that shares that vision is critical. Communities have an active lifespan that lasts years. A good developer has to be patient and learn to sell through the natural life cycle of a place. In Sekisui, Newland has a partner that counts in years, not quarters, and has the kind of realistic expectations that allow Newland the space to build the best communities.
- A good developer understands that geographic nuances can be crucial, that two communities even a few miles apart might require completely different answers.
- Builders too are different from market to market, even within the same company. A good developer will bring their experience and research to bear on a community and make every builder there better.
The Buyer Is King
- But there is nothing more important than understanding the buyer. Not just what buyers want now, but how they are changing and what this means for what they might want in the future.
- The most critical lesson to be learned, Bob tells us, is that you have to do the work to gain a complete understanding of who the buyer is—their lifestyles, their preferences, and their aspirations. All of these factors will hugely impact the design and product of a community.
- A developer sells land. Fitting the land plan to what buyers want is everything. And finding the mismatch between what buyers want and what is available to them—or not—can be the difference between success and disaster.
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