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Developers can boost profits by researching amenity preferences

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Steve Burch photoDevelopers risk foregoing profits by not being attuned to shifts in home buyer amenity preferences, according to John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

That firm’s recent survey of more than 23,000 new home shoppers, coupled with the experience of two senior vice presidents, identified several dominant trends for planned communities.

Steve Burch, one of the VPs, emphasized the importance of doing consumer research and segmentation before planning a community. “Too often, the community is panned by a locally connected land entitlement expert and engineer who did no consumer research, and then the developer is forced into land-planning constraints that don’t optimize profitability,” commented Burch, whose 25-plus years of experience in real estate research includes marketing positions with one of the nation’s top homebuilders.

Among popular amenities developers should consider are:

  • Parks. Pocket parks are vastly preferred to large central parks.
  • Social gatherings over big clubhouses. You want to be “the community with a real sense of community.”
  • Trails. Health and fitness matter more than ever. 68 percent want a variety of trails inside the community. Expensive amenities such as basketball courts and rock climbing walls might appeal to a passionate subset of the market, so those concepts should be tested first. One suburb of Atlanta passionately desired a private tennis club.
  • Food. Farmers markets cost very little and bring prospective buyers into the community.
  • Pets. Households without kids particularly value the pet amenities.
  • Pools. Pools come in all shapes and sizes. Make sure you are putting in a pool that matches your new home community.
  • Meeting space. With more than half of new home shoppers working from home one day per week, many customers desire a community meeting space or work space.
  • Package delivery. Secure package delivery is critical, so developments with secure lockers or someone who can sign for a package make a huge difference.

Burch and colleague Dean Wehrli discuss these and other popular amenities in a one of a series of podcasts offered by John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

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