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New-Homes Market Continues to Play Leading Role in Real Estate Today, and Long into the Future

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By Dennis Walsh

new-homes_marketScott MacDonald, real estate investor, real estate broker and owner of RE/MAX Gateway has received numerous accolades, including a nomination for REALTOR® of the Year and induction into the RE/MAX Hall of Fame and Lifetime Achievement. With more than 25 years of experience, MacDonald is highly regarded for his real estate expertise and has participated as a speaker at the RE/MAX International Convention, RE/MAX Broker Owner Conventions, RE/MAX Regional Broker events and RISMedia’s CEO Exchange.

This past November, MacDonald took part in my New Home Sales Success session during the NAR Conference. Here’s some of what he shared with the audience.

Dennis Walsh: How would you describe your new-homes business?
Scott MacDonald: Our new-home sales business is pretty diverse. We do MLS input and offer a guarantee buy/lease and interchange program. We also have a relationship with a multi-million dollar new-home sales center in Ashburn, Va., called Brambleton, the 4th best-selling new-homes community in the country. We have a referral agreement with them for when buyers and sellers come in unrepresented and they have a community channel on FIOS where we’re interviewed about current market conditions. We host meetings at their facility and act as a general resource for them. In addition, we’ve hired a team that focuses on infill lots, tear downs and assemblages for smaller builders who used to be affiliated with national builders.

DW: Are you focused on builder representation, buyer representation or both?
SM: On the infill business, we represent the builder, and with our general brokerage, we represent buyers mostly.

DW: How has new-homes business impacted your overall real estate business?
SM: In the late ’80s and early ’90s, I worked with one of the largest developers in the Washington area who did land development, then sold lots to builders who we represented in doing their sales. In turn, I would get the leads on selling their houses and follow up with people who weren’t necessarily interested in their properties. Now we have an office in Loudoun County, the fastest growing county in the country the last two decades. A majority of what we sell in that office is new homes. Lack of inventory has driven many buyers to new homes, and the desire to be close to DC has spurred the infill and tear-down market. The new-homes segment drives a great deal of both new- and resale-home business our way.

DW: How will your approach to new-homes business change this year?
SM: I plan to get more aggressive with our guarantee buy/lease program for builders. An example of the need for this is found at NVR, one of the largest home builders in the country, who just reported a 19 percent cancellation rate. NVR takes contingent contracts and our program is situated ideally to mitigate this problem for them.

DW: Are you changing your approach as the new market emerges?
SM: Funny you should ask. We just opened an office in Arlington located three miles from DC in order to work the tear-down/infill market.

DW: What are some of the current trends in your market?
SM: Buyers are migrating to large, planned developments where elementary, middle and high schools are strategically located in the neighborhood. They also have shopping, restaurants, entertainment and multiple “health” options like a gym, pools, jogging trails, etc. Other buyers are moving closer to DC and opting for location over amenities.

DW: How about design trends?
SM: Further out, bigger is better. Closer in, the focus is functional floor plans with no wasted space. One thing we’re lacking is first-floor master bedroom options, which builders are moving to accommodate. People still like the two-story foyer, but they’re less excited about the two-story family room.

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