Scott 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 over 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, he 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 in-fill 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/in-fill 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.
DW: How do you market yourself in the area of new homes?
SM: We visit new-home sites and drop off brochures. We also meet with builders at their sales meetings to discuss our program. When they come to our meetings, we reverse market them by finding out where they’re looking for land, where they’re located and if they’re open to utilizing our program. When we come across potential lots worthy of subdivision, we take the properties to them. Additionally, we network with local New Homes Guide reps to get in front of builders.
DW: What strategies do you have in place to grow your business success?
SM: Not only are we going to bring on more builders to market our program to, we’re also going to find more tear down/assemblage opportunities and continue to grow our relationship with the Brambleton New Home Sales Center. We’re also going to get more aggressive with our guarantee buy/lease program.
DW: Any other advice you’d like to offer?
SM: As our success in the new-homes arena demonstrates, there’s almost unlimited opportunity, but it’s essential to arm yourself with the knowledge and expertise to serve both builders and new-home buyers professionally. I became a Certified New Home Specialist™ in 2007 and encourage everyone in real estate to take advantage of this educational opportunity. The new-homes market is growing quickly and will continue to play a major role in real estate long into the future.