The easy thing about custom homes is that you don’t have to worry about the buyer. They walk right through the door, more than willing to share their wants and wish lists. In production housing, you first need to establish who the buyer is. Buyer profiles have a huge impact on design, and getting it right is crucial for a community’s success. Let’s look at buyer profiles and decide on the impact they have on design.
The first way to look at buyer profile and the way most builders organize their product is to organize by price point. This varies by market, but the common thread in all markets goes as following: Entry Level, First-time Move Up, Second-time Move Up and Luxury.
Entry Level - There are many design factors that relate to this category. The main features of entry level plans are value and efficiency. The designs tend to be more compact, with structurally simple massing. Room count tends to be an issue as well as most entry level buyers are families starting out. They will sacrifice a generous master bath for another bedroom. For the entry level buyer, every square foot counts!
Move Up – While these designs are still efficient, the move up plans focus more on amenities than the entry level plans do. The master bath grows in size, kitchen islands are larger and focus on high-function, while storage opportunities are abundant. The rooms may have more definition and detail, with increased window count and higher ceilings. The distinction between first time and second time move up is as much about size as anything. Second time move up product tends to be larger in square footage and footprint. Along the way, there are certainly enhancements to detail and amenity as well. Where a first time move up ceiling may be a high flat, the second time move up may have a ceiling treatment such as a coffer or tray.
Luxury – If there was ever a place for all the bells and whistles, this would be it. Luxury is not about ‘more stuff’ though. There is an elegance of space while fit, finish, and attention-to-detail is put on showcase throughout. You will likely be looking at master retreats with sitting rooms, his and her closets and spa showers. The kitchens may have more than one island with working or ‘messy’ back kitchens. Outdoor living and the connection to the interior living space is also a critical feature. Spaces are arranged to maximize views and capture natural light. Bath count increases as well in luxury product.
Another layer to the discussion of buyer profile has to do with demographics. Millennials and active adults are two of the most discussed buyer groups in the market today. Moving beyond generations, it only gets more nuanced. In addition, there are the needs of single parents, multi-generational families and cultural buyers that can impact design. For example, millennials and active adults tend to be drawn to fewer room count, entertaining kitchens and room flexibility. These buyer types can range from entry level to luxury, but are mainly in the move up market. In many cases, when developing a product line, you may only need a certain plan or option to appeal to these groups.
When identifying and selecting your buyer profile, go in with both feet. You certainly want to avoid going entry-level with a luxury mindset, and vice versa! Getting it right can be the difference between a successful community and a flailing one!