Marketing & Sales
'A Deal Is A Deal' When Builders Abide By A Contract, No Matter What
Here's a homebuilder story worth retelling -- ICYMI, or not.
When life deals lemons, make lemonade.
Maybe just accept that lemons are part of the deal sometimes. That can make you appreciate the times life deals fruits sweet – less sour – to the taste.
Life has dealt builders everywhere lemons, in the form of whac-a-mole-like price spikes, materials rationing, product dry-spells, and who knows what's next.
The 2021 "Selling Season," such that it's been, has worked out to be a Stop Selling Season for builders in three out of four communities, due to any one of umpteen bottlenecks, stoppages, outages, shortages, and eye-popping-sticker-shock-ages.
Instead of getting to do what homebuilders feel they're made to do – buy land, contract for work and materials, and help customers take hold of the home of their dreams – they've had to turn themselves into disappointment managers.
This is why a bright light story is worth the in-case-you-missed-it retelling.
Builders make lemonade all the time when they get dealt lemons. And when they can't or don't make lemonade, they take the lemons as much in stride as possible.
Here, the headline in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram, over an article reported by staffer Gordon Dickson, reads,
"Dallas-Fort Worth home builder promises buyers it won’t raise prices like others have"
Dickson's access point into the story was the viewpoint of a buyer, one who was well aware – like many people, whether they're on the homebuying dancefloor these days or not – that supply chains, commodities prices, labor shortages, etc. were wreaking havoc with the new-construction market.
This buyer, with earnest money down and a contract in place, had her ear to the mill on what was happening to buyers in-contract like her. The premonition this buyer felt was for almost certain frustration, disappointment, fear, anger, loss.
Instead, here's what this buyer experienced, according to Star-Telegram reporter Dickson's account.
Her builder, Bloomfield Homes, which is based in Southlake and builds homes throughout the region, promised clients it would honor the prices in all of the company’s signed contracts.
Certainly, other homebuilders, perhaps many other homebuilders, have abided by a similar or identical practice. Bloomfield may not be alone in doing so, and that would be worth knowing.
Here's what this anxious buyer received at the moment anxiety had spooled up to sheer terror.
The Bloomfield Homes email features an image of two shaking hands. It reads: “Even if construction costs rise during the building process, Bloomfield Homes will respect the Contract Price because we believe a deal is a deal!”
We don't stand in judgment of firms that have taken the perfectly legal step to cancel contracts and or build in escalators, or add to the final price of a new home based on the global supply chain seize up that has throttled business sectors ranging from consumer packaged goods to automotive to computers.
What we do celebrate is the heart, soul, and wisdom of builders whose capacity to see themselves in the frame of the moment allows them, as well, to see beyond that frame, to the longer term relationship that binds a homebuilder to his or her or their customer.
“We’re not perfect, but we try hard, and it just seemed like the right thing to do,” Dykstra said.
Dykstra said the rising costs of materials has eliminated much of the usual profits he would be making from some of his company’s homes that are already under construction. But, he said, sending the email was a way to protect his company’s reputation — at a time when many other builders are under fire for the way they have handled the historically hot housing market — which he believes is better for business long-term.
That just seemed like a story worth repeating. As much as it's an uncharacteristically difficult time for builders – one where they know there's demand for what they produce, but show-stopping limits on what they can complete – it's still a problem they'd rather have than its opposite.