Uniontown, OH – “What we’re doing — it’s nothing new. But maybe we just do it with a little more creativity and sincerity.”
Maurie Jones is Vice President of Marketing for Ohio-based homebuilder, Wayne Homes. And over the past couple of years, as the economy and housing market began to struggle, she turned to a tried-and-true real estate sales approach: the open house.
“Most homebuilders don’t do open houses,” says Jones. “It’s usually something you see with resale homes. But we’ve found they’re a wonderful way to help people understand how a particular home really lives.”
Jones is hinting at a key challenge that Wayne Homes faces. The company offers more than 30 different floor plans, each of which has a number of options for room arrangements and features. That makes for a lot of choices. But all those choices make it impossible to build a model home for every available floor plan. “We’d have to build a small town to model all our homes,” Jones says.
So instead, the homebuilder hosts open houses at the homes of people who are currently building a Wayne home. “So let’s say you bought our new Stafford floor plan,” Jones explains. “One of our sales managers might ask your permission to host an open house in your home while it’s under construction so other people can experience that floor plan.”
Jones says prospective buyers show up with cameras and tape measures in hand. They’re able to see just how big the kids’ bedrooms are, how open the kitchen is and how masterful the master suite is. They can figure out exactly where to put the couch and the entertainment center. And in many cases, buyers are suddenly inspired with ideas for customizing their homes. “When you can walk through a floor plan, instead of looking at it on paper, the ideas just start to flow,” says Jones.
But at these open houses, buyers get more than inspiration; they find reassurance. They can bring all their questions — about how the construction process works, how to arrange for financing, how to prepare their home sites and so forth — and get answers. Wayne makes sure to have the right experts in the room … including the owners of the home where the open house is taking place.
“This is probably the best thing about the open house, letting people who have already built with Wayne Homes talk to people who are thinking about building with us,” says Dave Logsdon, one of the owners of Wayne Homes. “We can tell people how easy we are to work with and how meticulous our construction process is. But that message is a lot more powerful when it comes from somebody who has actually gone through the process.”
So how well have the open houses worked? Well, Wayne Homes is on track to sell more homes in 2009 — during the worst economic downturn in 50 years — than they sold in 2008. As Jones explains it: “When you can see a home for yourself, when you can actually walk on the floors and feel the countertops, you realize that a home is a tangible, valuable thing to have no matter what the economy is doing. And then you become more open to moving ahead.”
Now we know what “open house” really means.
About Wayne Homes
The task of constructing a home from the ground up is made less daunting thanks to Wayne Homes’ four decades of experience, streamlined process and exceptional personal service. They help customers through every step — from home-site prep and financing to choosing from numerous combinations of floorplans, features and finishes. The result is a home of extremely high quality that perfectly suits the homeowner’s needs. Homes range from 1,300 to 3,500 square feet and from the $80s to $200s (plus land cost). Learn more about building a custom, energy-efficient home by dropping by one of the company’s eight model home centers or by visiting WayneHomes.com