This story was originally published in Builder.
This is part three of a four-part series about how builders are catering to Gen X buyers. Click here for part two.
In Denver, a popular city for millennials, some home builders are finding success with buyers one generation older. For instance, Denver-based builder Infinity Home Collection has honed its focus on providing homes that not only meet the needs of young families, but also satisfy the desires of move-up buyers eager for upgraded features, style, and comfort.
“I think all of the homes that we’ve designed since the beginning have been targeted toward young, growing families,” says Dave Steinke, co-owner and general manager of Infinity Home Collection. “[And we] like to go into places really more towards the end of their cycle than the beginning, where it’s established a little bit.”
Infinity Home Collection delivers 75 to 100 homes each year, with average home prices around $1 million. The homes in its Vive at Stapleton community start between 2,900 and 3,100 square feet, with four bedrooms and a main-floor study. From there, the builder offers its buyers a wide range of design choices.
“It’s a long way from a custom home, but in terms of finishes, it’s no different. You can have any appliance, you can have any cabinet, you can have thousands of tiles and floors and countertops. You can mix it, match it, customize it, and that’s what they really want,” Steinke says.
The builder’s master baths are popular with buyers, with large showers and acrylic freestanding tubs as fixture options. The kitchens can include wine stations, beverage centers, 60-inch ranges, and built-in fridges. While Vive at Stapleton’s yards are small and its homes are built close together, the builder utilizes corner stacker doors to create indoor/outdoor spaces that flow together and feel larger.
“We focus on building privacy walls inside, so you’ll be able to have a denser neighborhood,” says Tyler Steinke, director of sales operations. “You’ll have some privacy from your next-door neighbors and everyone kind of has their own little space. And we leave enough room in the yard for the kids and the dog.”
Dave Steinke found that Gen X buyers are very focused on finding the right home for their family. “They’ve got two or three small children that they’re raising, they want to be in a great neighborhood with great schools, and they want to be around people like themselves,” he says. “They want their kids to have a lot of friends. So we have to build and design homes to accommodate that family.”
He also notes that Gen X buyers love to entertain and need space inside their homes to entertain the way they want to. A wide open floor plan and enormous kitchen islands appeal to this purpose. “There’s also a lot of room for privacy. The four bedrooms upstairs aren’t just stacked next to each other with a hall bath. Most of them have their own bath. But they’re situated in spaces along hallways, so those kids have some privacy and some space of their own.”
Sustainability and Generation X
Nearby in the Vita, Panacea, and ZEN 2.0 Collections, Thrive Home Builders’ appeal to families includes LEED certification at Panacea, EPA Indoor airPLUS certification at Panacea and Vita, and 100% Zero Energy construction at ZEN 2.0.
The builder was an early adopter of standard solar power for all of its homes, and builds a majority of them with double 2x4 9.5-inch wall sections for enhanced insulation. Additional envelope features include high-efficiency windows, airtight sealing, and an electric heat pump for the HVAC system, with a gas backup furnace. Thrive homes are DOE Zero Energy Ready across all price points, ranging from the $200,000s to the high $800,000s.
According to Stephen Myers, vice president of sales and marketing, these features resonate strongly with Generation X buyers. “Think about when the first Earth Day was, back in the seventies,” Myers says. “This was all stuff that was influential for Gen X as they grew up. And so Gen X was really, I believe, the first generation to absorb some of these messages about sustainability and a focus on our health and organic food. Our energy-efficient features and our health features are really key in our strategy to approaching Gen X because we think that Gen X cares about those things.”
Beyond its commitment to energy-efficiency and healthy environments, Thrive has strategies for visible home features that appeal to Gen-Xers and their families. Popular considerations include upper-level laundry rooms, finished basements where older children can get away and make noise, family foyers, and owners’ entries that include drop zones for keys, coats, and shoes.
One of the builder’s strongest concerns is improving and iterating on its current homes and designs. This not only means making the homes healthier and more efficient, but also more attainable for the buyers that want the features they offer.
“I think the elephant in the room for our entire industry is that our products are becoming unaffordable,” Myers says. “So what we’re going to have to do is figure out how to maintain our brand platform and yet get to a more attainable product for our buyers. So I think that’s the challenge that is probably being presented to every builder, and we’re certainly no exception. We just want to remain who we are while we try to do that.”
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