Every week, we ask a real estate professional for their thoughts on the top trends in real estate.
This week, we talked with Shana Jacobs, Executive Creative Director for MP STUDIO.
Houston Agent (HA): How do you establish strong relationships with homebuilders?
Shana Jacobs (SJ): As the Creative Director of MP STUDIO, it is my number one job to cultivate strong relationships with builders and developers. I’ve been in the field of single and multi-family design for a long time, and developing relationships with builders is the most important part of the success of our business. So coming from a designer’s point of view, I strive with each model home, apartment clubhouse, or model apartment to really have lengthy programming discussions at the front end of the project to feel out what the builder wants to feature and who the builder’s demographic is for that market. We spend a lot of time focusing on the builder’s goals and I think over time, the trust is built. It is a mutual relationship of respect that they understand I care as much about their success as they do. How well our firm designs their spaces affects their success. We want the builder to be proud, the sales person to enjoy showing off the product, and the buyer to see memory points throughout that make the model home stick in their mind for a long time. When the builder and designer have a strong relationship, it all just works.
HA: When designing, how do you make sure that you’re showing off a home in the best possible light?
SJ: The first thing I stress to our designers at MP STUDIO is to always spatially layout a room’s furniture to show the size of the room and to focus on any added features it may have. For example in a living room, we want to show the buyer how much furniture can fit while still emphasizing its size. We want the buyer to imagine how they will entertain or have family gatherings in the space. We will also want to show off the large windows and any other focal points like fireplaces the builder has added. If the ceiling has decorative beams, we may draw attention to them by adding a light fixture to draw the eye up.
We also carefully consider our paint selections. We must take into account the amount of light in the room, the wood tones in the home, etc. Our number one paint rule is to find the color you want, then find a gray version of it. This will protect you from painting an overly saturated color.
HA: What is one thing that homebuyers don’t do that you wish they would?
SJ: I feel it is so important to stress to the average homebuyer how crucial it is to concentrate your budget first on structural options. Many buyers get caught up in spending the funds on upgrades like granite countertops or wood floors. I would focus more on adding in the tray or volume ceilings, adding rooms to get the optimal layout, opting for additional windows, and extended covered patios. These things are going to give your new home ‘good bones’ and are not easily added later. Focus on those and then add the granite if budget allows. If not, it’s so simple and cost effective to make cosmetic changes and adds at a later time. You won’t regret an extra window or two or the beautiful 11′ ceilings you added.
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