Living The Great Life

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I’m always amazed at the quality of life Yes! Communities offer to their residents. I was in Oklahoma City redesigning a clubhouse for them at their Timberland community, and even though it was a hot day there were a group of kids playing basketball on the sports court, people were enjoying the pool, and lots of kids playing in their front yards and enjoying the playground.  Residents were dropping in to the clubhouse asking when they could reserve the space for their personal use – the list was filling up quickly!

There are so many discussions going on about kids being parked in front of their computers and not being active -that definitely wasn’t the case at Timberland. There was lots for them to do, and they were taking advantage of those opportunities.

Land lease communities offer a wonderful quality of life. Being able to live in a community with features such as pools, sports courts, beaches, mountain views and other lifestyle options means that there is always something to do!

YES! Communities Have The Right Attitude

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Land Lease Communities are such a misunderstood and undervalued type of community. As in every form of housing there are the good and the bad, but after touring some of the yes! communities in Oklahoma and Texas there is no doubt in my mind that this will be the housing of the future.

SE Homes of Texas has recognized for years how important it is to offer the right home for community living and I’ve really enjoyed working with them on this. Getting to see the finished homes and the people who live in them is such a delight – it’s rewarding beyond belief to this Lifestylist® to know you can help these families live in the home of their dreams. With SE Homes of TX being a part of the Clayton Homes family – the largest housing builder in the country- they have the resources to build and design homes that no other company can match.

What is a land lease community? This is where instead of having the burden of owning and taking care of the land your home sits on you lease it from the community owner who then is also responsible for keeping up the streets, common areas, paying the property taxes and making sure that the community is well maintained.  Communities can have a little or a lot of community areas, and most offer on-site management so there is someone there every day making sure the community is run properly. Many of them are in prime locations and can offer swimming pools, sports courts, walking paths, community gardens, and clubhouses. Leasing instead of owning the land your home is on it can save you thousands in property taxes and insurance which you can then invest into your home. You are responsible for your home, but the community owner pays  for everything else.

The advantage of this type of housing over apartments is that you can own your own home, plus you aren’t sharing walls or hallways with your neighbors. Each home is on it’s own lot giving you room to garden or enjoy outdoor living.

I have been visiting communities from coast to coast because I’ve become so interested in this, and the quality of living that the yes! communities provided was above and beyond the others in their areas. Every detail from how the landscaping was maintained to the signage into and around the community is taken into consideration, and even though it is still winter up here everything was spotless! Not a blowing piece of paper or unpainted fence to be found.

What really set the yes! communities apart though was the people behind the name and the residents that live in these communities. Saying (and meaning) yes is the approach this company and it’s people take and the difference this makes is seen throughout. Residents and staff are happy and are excited to be there because yes! has provided a wonderful quality of live for everyone involved.

What’s in a name? Everything when you are talking about a YES! community.

 

Finding The Right Partner

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You would think that finding a contractor or designer to do work on your home would be easy, but take it from this Domestic Lifestylist® it’s not. When I decided to add a test kitchen to The Home Idea Factory I started thinking about having people in my home, and trust became even more important than the cost. Fortunately for me, I found Mike Clark and his team, and my test kitchen is closer than ever to being a reality.

Here’s some tips for hiring a contractor.

Is Bigger Better?

This Lifestylist® spends a lot of time trend tracking so I can help my clients decipher what current fads and forecasting really applies to what they do and their customers. Something that seems to be getting a lot of “Buzz” recently is that people are no longer interested in the smaller sized homes that have been so popular in the last couple of years, but they are back to wanting more square footage.

This may sound good in a news article, but in fact what we are seeing is people want more liveable space – in other words, what they want is every square foot of their new home having a function and no wasted space that they have to heat, cool and clean. Living in a Home Idea Factory like I do may sound glamorous, but with all of this square footage comes a mountain of cleaning that needs to be done every day and maintenance that never ends.

Factory built housing has always been a great example of great use of space. Since every home is engineered, I’m always amazed with how large and functional the kitchens are in a small amount of space. Using as little space as possible for hallways can make a huge difference in the footprint of the home, and taking the time to “space plan” – seeing what furniture will work where and the traffic flow that will happen because of that furniture placement – can alleviate a lot of problems after the home is built.

This Champion Home is a great example. It is a model home in Hobbs, NM and I was asked to re-merchandise it so potential customers would get a better feel for the lifestyle that was possible with this home and how they could live and entertain in it.

What we changed was so successful they sold this home the first day! A rancher bought it and loved the mud room, large flowing entertainment areas, and the ranching lifestyle featured in the model.

When you are looking for your next home, have a seat in the model home and really think about the flow of the home and how your family will utilize every square foot of the home. You might be surprised at what you really do and do not need.

Factory Built Housing Intrigues Builders at the International Builders Show

What a great, busy month this has been! This Lifestylist® has show houses to plan, new products to design and great conventions to attend… there just aren’t enough hours in the day for all of the great opportunities that are ahead of us!

Last week I attended the International Builders Show in Orlando and after attending this convention for over 20 years I think this year was one of my favorites.

I am so proud to be a part of the National Association of Home Builders and to be involved in the modular side of home building. This was the year when I saw home builders really taking notice of what benefits factory built construction could offer them, and not only did we do a great job of talking about it – we also showed them.

There are meetings that go on before the Builders Show starts that help put in place best practices to promote and grow the housing industry. Councils cover various specialty groups, and I was impressed to see that Kevin Flaherty, Vice President of Marketing for Champion Homes was not only attending these meetings, he is also acting as Vice Chairman for the Building Systems Council. “The New Champion” is really showing their strength and commitment to the factory built housing industry, and not only are they active with NAHB, they are also becoming more active with the Manufactured Housing Institute. Kevin was a presenter in the NAHB News Conference “Industry Study: Characteristics of Modular Homes” and had great facts and figures about why consumers should consider buying a modular home.

Palm Harbor Homes presented three beautiful factory built homes in the Professional Builder Show Village showing a “Net Zero Eco-Home” that was a 399 sq. ft. park model, a modular duplex, and a modular luxury home. Tony Lucas the designer for Palm Harbor always does an outstanding job, but what he did with the Net Zero home really got people’s attention. Tony added the architectural details on the exteriors that made you want to know and see more which is a lot of what you want a show home to do. It was interesting because another builder brought a home for the first time and it was in neutral colors and without much exterior interest, and many people (including myself) passed it by. I heard the home was beautiful inside, but only found that out after the show was over.

Builders were fascinated by the fact that the three homes were installed, furnished and decors added in 8 days. This was proof of one of the many benefits that factory built housing offers – time savings which results in cost savings. Will these homes result in sales for Palm Harbor? Ron Powell, President of Manufacturing for Palm Harbor Homes stated that “I haven’t seen the statistics, but our internal feeling is that attendance at Show Village was better than last year. There were more attendees with solid projects in the immediate future. In the last few years, there were a lot of attendees trying to flesh-out ideas. This year, they’ve got land and are ready to go.”

Besides having market driven homes at the show, I was also impressed to see Joe Stegmayer – the Chairman of the Board, President and Chief Executive Officer of Cavco Industries, a director and officer of Fleetwood Homes, Inc.  and Palm Harbor Homes, Inc. ,and a director of Palm Harbor Villages, Inc working the show. How he has time to even attend something like this is amazing, and I said working not attending the show because every time I saw him he was helping a potential customer or answering questions. And in his “spare” time he is serving as the Chairman of the Board for The Manufactured Housing Institute. His hands on approach to the factory built housing industry is one of the reasons it will continue to be a force to be reckoned with.

One of the highlights of this year’s show for me was getting to hear Ben Bernanke speak about the state of our economy and what’s ahead for housing. More on that later, but to see more images from this year’s International Builders Show, visit and “like” our Facebook page at: www.facebook.com/lifestylelist. I took over 2,000 photographs and I’m anxious to share my favorites with you.

It Takes a Village

One of the things I love about my job as a Lifestylist is that I’m always learning. I get to travel from coast to coast and learn about what people are really looking for in their new homes and share which builders might be the perfect match for their wish list.

Today I sat in on a committee meeting at The International Builders Show for The Building Systems Council. Not sure what a Buildings System is? The description they use is “Innovative Construction Technologies” and after listening to what was discussed, I’m more convinced than ever that Modular, Concrete, SIPS, and the other forms of innovative construction are going to continue to have more awareness as the preferred way to build.

I’m always so impressed to see how much some companies and individuals are doing “behind the scenes” to make sure that everyone has the opportunity to own a home of their own. They don’t just build, sell, and walk away – they spend hundreds of hours donating their time supporting the communities they build in and  attend meetings like today to work together and make sure we all build the best homes possible.

Champion Homes has really stepped up lately and has been getting very involved in the different organizations that support modular housing. It was great to see them represented at the Building Systems Council meeting today and learn that Kevin Flaherty who is a Vice President with Champion has stepped up to be the interm chairperson of the Building Systems Councils’ Modular Homes Council.

Palm Harbor Homes – a division of Cavco Homes is also having a strong showing at IBS. They have three homes on display that prove that modular can be a preferred from of construction. In less than a week they were able to set and furnish homes that range from under 400 sq. ft to over 3,000 sq. ft. Doing that using traditional construction would be next to impossible.

If you aren’t attending the show and touring the show floor and Professional Builder Show Village to see these homes in person, you can take a look at the homes and the other cool products I find on Pinterest.

DIVE IN To a New Modular Home by Champion

Champion Homes has taken buying a new home to to the next level with the introduction of DIVE IN – a way to design and customize your own home online or with a sales agent.

DIVE IN (Design Interactive Viewing Experience) offers a collection on plans that let you choose different lifestyle options, flex spaces, alternative kitchen designs and other choices that allow the customer to design a home that is truly a home of their own.

Kevin Flaherty, VP of marketing for Champion Home Builders said this is the perfect tool for retailers to help their potential buyers design their new home.  “When it is used with a tablet computer, the sales experience grows exponentially with the ability to provide the customer with all the information they need to make an informed buying decision in a unique, concise and captivating manner.”  We loved interviewing Kevin and Phyllis Knight – Chief Financial Officer of Champion at the recent MHI Congress and Expo, and their enthusiasm about the factory built industry is contagious.

We are proud of the Lifestylist® Designed model homes we have done for Champion, and we are looking forward to doing more in the future. This video can show you the difference a Lifestylist® Designed model home can make.

 

Speaking Out at the International Networking Roundtable

Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be asked to speak at the 20th Annual International Networking Roundtable this year.  Speaking to a full house, Felber shared her knowledge on how to add lifestyle to communities to increase resident satisfaction and to help keep communities full.

George Allen of GFA Management hosted the event which had an increase in attendance of over 20% from last year. To find out more about this event, or to receive more information on land lease communities, contact Mr. Allen at: 317-346-7156. A video overview of the event is also available on YouTube.

Southern Energy Homes of Texas Opens Fall Show

SEhomes of Texas opened their Fall Home Show today, and the response from retailers and landlease community owners has been fantastic. Five Lifestylist® Designed homes are being featured, each with it’s own theme. The Opening Day party had a hunting theme, and guests had a wonderful time playing washers and feasting on barbeque that was cooked in a smoker resembling a gun.

These well designed homes have the features consumers are looking for including master baths with separate showers, large gourmet kitchens, split master suite plans and one home even has a media room with a refreshment area.

 

To get more information on the homes, contact Sales Manager Ryan Blackburn at: ryan.blackburn@sehomes.com

The Trailer Diva Gets a New Home?

This Lifestylist® is proud to be a Trailer Diva – I love factory built housing and think it is the way that most housing will be built in the future. I was shopping at NorthPark Center the other day and saw something I have to have – a playhouse that is the cutest trailer I have ever seen! It was part of the Parade of Playhouses they do every year, and every year’s homes are better than the year before.

The event benefits Dallas CASA – a 30 year old organization with over 500 volunteers that are advocates for the best interests of abused and neglected children. What an important organization that needs every dollar that this amazing event raises. I went online today and saw the playhouse that was being auctioned off online was at $8,500 and it was worth it!

To be the lucky owners of the rest of the homes you bought raffle tickets, and winners were chosen today at NorthPark. Rumor has it that my favorite had some of the most bids of any of the other playhouses – I guess there is a future for factory built housing! I didn’t win my dream trailer, but the real winners were Dallas CASA, and that’s what  is really important.

But, if the winner of my dream trailer decides it doesn’t fit in with their decor, give me a call – I have the perfect place for it!