Melissa Brown, of Patten Title, has a long history in the new home construction industry. Today, she shares her resume, insights, and opportunities for the industry.
Q: Tell us about your background in the building industry.
A: I grew up on construction sites with my father being a custom home builder turned multifamily developer, but I’ve worked in the building industry for the past nine years. I was the Director of Sales and Marketing for a local Austin multifamily developer for five years and now lead the builder/developer division of Patten Title and Law.
At Patten, I focus on our builder/developer clients within the Austin area. We help our clients from dirt to close with entitlements, site plan review, marketing plans, HOA document prep, and of course a smooth closing for them and their clients.
Q: You are very active in the Austin builder community. Can you tell us more about your involvement in the HBA and Austin Infill Coalition?
- Currently on the Board of Director of the Home Builders Association of Greater Austin as well as acting chair for the Programming Committee, member of the Membership Committee, Professional Women in Building (PWB), and HomePAC. https://www.hbaaustin.com/
- Currently on the Board of Directors of the Austin Infill Coalition and focus on the membership development of the organization. The AIC has been in existence for over 3 years but became a formal 501c this January, so this is very new. (still working on the website)
- Currently a member of the Urban Land Institute (ULI) on both the Market Place Committee and Affordable Housing Committee https://austin.uli.org/
My goal by being a part of these organizations is to gain a well-rounded understanding of our clients’ needs. Builders and developers are facing many challenges with city regulations, lack of trades, and cost of land. The need for attainable housing within the Austin area is well known, but the cost to build within the area continues to increase with elongated caring cost, increase in material and labor cost as well as lack of supply. If we are able to save our clients time and money then hopefully we can help put a dent in the struggles builders and developers go through daily and ultimately help with the needs of our community.
Q: From your perspective, how do you see the industry changing?
A: Multigenerational living is making a comeback – this is something I find very interesting and it completely makes sense. With the cost of living going up and the amount of debt, the number of young people coming out of college with the ability to afford a home on their own is very low.
Adding a separate entrance to a home, an extra 1100 sq ft, or “in-laws” quarters is becoming more common. This is changing the way buyers are looking at homes, giving them more options in interior selections, but creative square footage usage is also becoming more common.
I have seen smaller builders have more success in moving product because of their ability to make quick changes to floor plans to fit the buyers’ needs.
Q: What opportunities do you see for Builder Marketers?
A: Touching the target market multiple times before they step in your door is key; giving them the ability to make decisions without having to come to you is a great opportunity that I think more builders should capitalize on. We live in a world where it is not uncommon to have people move across the country for a job, a loved one, or just for better weather, so more contact is a great way to help them find the home and neighborhood they want to live in before they even get there.
In terms of prospect follow-up, sales teams needs a way to follow up and see what their prospects are looking at and what they want. A marketplace for them would be a game changer in driving traffic and sales. Once a prospect leaves a showroom without signing a contract, more than 75% of sales are lost. Having a real-time way to track what buyers are looking at and changing/requesting is a wonderful opportunity. I’m not sure how this can happen but I think it is needed.
Q: Any final perspectives that you would like to share?
A: Showcasing and tracking the types of material clients or potential buyers click on or remove would be a great tool for a builder. The cost of material is going up and the less amount of selection options they would need to carry or price could be very beneficial.
Also, tracking the changes to the floor plan, how many times the extra bathroom was added and removed etc. would be great information to the marketing department, so they know what appeals to buyers. This data is also important to the executive teams to get smarter and more consumer savvy.
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