Homebuyers are looking to developers to offer an appealing, entertaining community, and it all starts with a strong master plan.
It’s something Steven Magee, executive VP of Land and Development at iStar, says is crucial when looking to broaden the appeal of communities. Walkability, community spaces and atmosphere are just a few of the features included in a master plan.
“Social amenities such as recreation centers and outdoor gathering spaces are what many buyers gravitate toward,” says Magee.
But with all of the tech options available, today, there’s more to it than that. “Outdoor flat screen TV’s and Wi-Fi access are appealing,” says Magee. And they should also be included in a master plan, along with other outdoor recreation tech and sustainable green building options.
And now is the time to get on board with detailed master plans, as they could soon be mandated in your state.
“In California, and on the national level, you need to pre-plan projects with more detail than ever before,” says Magee. In many parts of the country, these types of plans are even being required from cities and local governments.
Generating “Drive-Up Appeal”
Developers should put themselves in the shoes of the buyer in the initial stages of master planning to understand the importance of “drive-up” appeal.
“If you are going to develop a solid master plan, you must have an appealing drive-up plan,” says Magee. Drive-up appeal refers to the features your potential buyers will see when they first enter the community.
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What to Include in Your Master Plan
A detail-oriented master planned community is helpful, because it enables the developer, builder and investor to optimize the area by better understanding every inch of the proposed community.
Including homes of different price points in the master plan can help developers appeal to different demographics. That segmentation within a community can also help with visualizing outdoor tech packages and community spaces. These attributes define a community’s atmosphere.
According to Magee, the number one feature that buyers want in a development is a walking path and easy-access to recreation. Integrators can amp up the appeal of walkways by installing smart lights with occupancy sensors that kick on when a resident walks past. Community spaces can be optimized with multi-room audio systems, outdoor TVs and even outdoor kitchens. These features should also be included in the master plan.
Design and tech placement are only part of generating appeal with a master plan. More buyers are demanding sustainable homes and communities that reflect the green ways they want to live. And that should be included as well.
For example, iStar’s new Spring Mountain Ranch community showcases a point-to-point drip irrigation system in its master plan. This was included in the plan as an appeal point for both buyers and developers, because it efficiently keeps community areas lush and green, while cutting costs.
Other sustainable features that developers should consider including in their master plans are flood mitigation, weather sensors and permeable pavements and walkways.
“Master plans have changed in recent years, because a lot more foresight is going into the plans,” says Magee. “It’s more about providing a complete consumer experience than it used to be.”
Magee adds, however, that developers need to provide a solid master plan without sacrificing “risky capital.” The idea is to balance appeal points with affordability. Otherwise, a poor master plan can lead to investors dropping your project before it even breaks ground and ultimately lost profits.
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