Discovering Hope in 2013

Another year is almost behind us, and I think most of us are looking forward to a fresh start in 2013.

Last year made it clearer than ever that nothing is more important than relationships. I feel so fortunate that I was able to spend time with my cousins I hadn’t seen in years, had some great sister time and what was most important, got to spend a lot of quality time with my kids and grandkids.

Being around the grandkids reminded me how wonderful it is to always be looking forward to tomorrow and the opportunities it brings. The amazement of what a fantastic job my kids are doing as parents, and how talented their Jr Lifestylists are keeps reminding me how important it is to spend time with family.

Here’s hoping that 2013 is filled with hope for all of us, and we remember what brings us joy.

Bob Vila Embraces Factory Built Housing


There’s nothing we love more than a positive story about factory built housing, and has a wonderful article about the history of factory built housing.  Lifestylist® Suzanne Felber was honored to be interviewed and quoted in the story, and what is really exciting is that the author of the story – Jane Dagmi – was so intrigued about what this form of housing offers she’s continuing to learn more and visit communities on her own. I’m looking forward to more of her stories in the future.

One of the things that has always been a detriment to our industry was the perception the press has, so having writers not only like our homes but also want to know more is a step in the right direction.

Be sure to also take a look at the timeline that Jane did -it’s one of the best I’ve seen.

We Appreciate Your Business

I just got back from working on a great new Lifestylist® Designed model home for SE Homes of Texas. It is at The Oakwood Homes of Channelview store, and I still can’t believe all of the features and details this home offers. I really enjoyed going down to Houston to merchandise the home, and one of the biggest things I immediately noticed was how well done the home center was, and how nice the home team was. They went out of their way to help me, and I noticed when they were walking prospective home buyers through the new model the team was very knowledgeable about the building process and really helped the buyers learn about the homes without pressuring them.

When you drove into the center, there was a huge banner that stated “We Appreciate Your Business” and I definitely got the impression that they did. The most valuable thing that all of have right now is our time, and it was great to know that this team wouldn’t be wasting mine. The center was beautifully landscaped, the homes were well merchandised and clean, and the minute you walked into their offices you were greeting by a professional that made you immediately feel at home.

Sadly, not everyone seems to appreciate our business, which makes how these Clayton owned sales centers treat their customers even more special. Coming home to missed appointments and being on hold for hours with the cable and internet companies made me appreciate even more the Oakwood Channelview experience.

Sharing Great Design

Modern Homes was such a great publication, and in many ways it was way ahead of it’s time. I’ve always loved this cover that Lisa Stewart Photography shot – it’s hard to believe that this home was sitting in a parking lot in Tunica Mississippi!

I just happened to share this photo on my Facebook page and got lots of positive comments as to what a beautiful home this is, and people had no idea that this was a modular home.

As an industry we build a beautiful, well designed home – we just need to get better about letting consumers know about what a great product we have. If you haven’t tested the social media waters, now is the time. You’ll be amazed at how many potential buyers are starting their home buying searches there.

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.

The Limitations of Modular Housing

It seems like people are finally beginning to realize that factory built housing may be a better way to build – I’ve had two site builders ask me if the projects that we are working on might be more efficient if we do a modular build instead of the way they traditionally build. What’s really great is these are both commercial projects – one is a clubhouse and one is transitional housing for 14 so I’m really proud of my clients for looking at all options. In fact, Champion Homes is doing quite a few commercial builds, including hotels for a major hotel company – I can’t wait to see (and stay in) the finished buildings.

Many people have the misconception that using modular construction is very limiting – I’m always surprised with how many people think you can only do 1 story. In fact, all construction has some limitations, but with modular you can build multi story buildings just as you can with site built.

This beautiful home in Montana that was built by the EnergyMate division of Patriot Homes is an example of what can be accomplished using modular construction. It has a 2 story family room and rock fireplace in it -they just completed the fireplace on-site with rocks they found on the ranch.

Before you make a decision on who is going to be building your next home or building, you might contact one of the many fine modular builders that might be the right fit for you.

If you need recommendations on who might be a good fit for you, feel free to contact us at: and we’ll be happy to share our list of qualified builders with you.

Appealing to The Right Buyer

A model home is one of the most important components of a builder’s marketing plan.  It is where you show potential buyers the quality of your homes and show why their lifestyle will be better by buying one of your homes.

A successful model home needs to be memorable, and merchandised in a way that it will be remembered more than all of the other homes that the potential buyers visit.

Our new Lifestylist® website has an article on how we made a model home very memorable by playing up interesting museums in the area.

The next time you walk through your model homes, see if they are memorable enough for potential buyers to chose your home over the competition.