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Homebuilder doing what it takes to sell in a challenging market

By: Dena Kouremetis
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It’s a whole new ball game when looking for homes these days. Buyers are definitely in the driver’s seat, but how do they determine which deal is the best for when so many possibilities exist? Short sales take patience and skill, bank-owned properties may be priced well but could need costly work, and homebuilders are giving away incredible incentives to move their remaining inventories. One local homebuilder decided to address the “resale vs. new” element of their business head-on in these days of bank-owned homes, traditional homes for sale and move-in ready brand new homes still being built all existing within the same neighborhood. In the case of Sacramento-based JTS Communities’ Ranch Equestrian Estates in peaceful Wilton, Calif., a mixture of resale, foreclosures and new homes all used to compete with one another in this 2-6 acre parcel community that encourages homeowners to make the parcels into ranchettes. But no more. On-site salesperson Steve Gordon does it all. Having been there when the first home went up, Gordon is an encyclopedia on the 1200-acre neighborhood’s septic, optics, soils, floor plans and amenities. So when someone walks into his sales office and the two plans JTS currently offers do not suit the size or price range of the prospective homebuyer, Gordon can instantly represent and direct them to a foreclosure or resale within the community that might better suit their needs. “When the market is 80 percent resales and foreclosures and we have to sell new homes at foreclosure pricing anyway, it makes sense to represent everyone’s interests in the community,” says Romine. “Just because the market is questionable right now doesn’t mean that people have abandoned their dreams of owning their own little ranchette,” admits Gordon. “It’s rare that you can find a place that has already been approved for horses, and it took JTS a good long time to get this community through the approval process in order to offer it. It may take even longer for communities like this to be duplicated in the years to come. So people feel as if they are buying a ‘piece of the rock’ and that make them feel great. “ Indeed, four former Folsom residents have opted to purchase “Green Acres” ranchettes over the past six months or so, he says. “When home prices started out here at $1.2 million and are now at $500,000 to $600,000, lifestyles like this, where people ride by daily on horseback and live in a pastoral setting can be among the first to appreciate in value when the market turns,” he predicts. The neighborhood had 64 sales in 2008 and is poised to sell its remaining homes while continuing its “good neighbor” policy of helping existing homeowners sell as well as banks who need to move their foreclosed inventories. Dena Kouremetis is a Folsom-based syndicated consumer columnist. She may be reached at REritr@aol.com.