Wichita Builders Give Buyers a Boost in Confidence
The Wichita, Kan., housing market was in pretty good shape at the beginning of 2008, with its single-family permits down less than 10% for 2007, compared to 24% for the state and 30% for the country.
Economic indicators were also good. The unemployment rate was lower and payroll employment and home prices were higher than in 2006.
But buyer confidence was beginning to falter.
So the Wichita Area Builders Association (WABA) went on the offense to help keep their market as healthy as it could be.
“We needed to be preemptive so our members didn’t find themselves in a hole they couldn’t dig out of,” said WABA President and CEO Wesley Gaylon.
The members agreed. They raised $100,000 in just two weeks to launch an extensive media campaign.
The association ran television, radio and print advertisements in local media outlets for five weeks, and following a two-week break it ran ads for its Parade of Homes. Held over three consecutive weekends in April, the parade featured more than 230 homes built by 69 local builders.
Gaylon said that parade traffic was up and the feedback on the campaign from the public was positive.
“Our campaign gave buyers a level of confidence they hadn’t been feeling,” he said.
In fact, he added, after the parade several members scheduled meetings to move forward with new construction projects.
The association also worked to develop a good working relationship with the media, which soon began to depict the Wichita market as "different" from what was being described in national headlines.
Gaylon feels that the campaign has also helped the association’s members develop a different mindset for their marketing efforts.
“It got them thinking about the need to constantly re-analyze their business, conduct self-audits and focus on product positioning,” he said.
Gaylon advises builders and HBAs to “always keep in mind your strengths so you can stay on top when the market changes.”
Members and locals around the country have used information and resources from NAHB to combat negative media stories and restore the confidence of hesitant buyers. Read their stories or access the Myth Buster resources by going to www.nahb.org/mythbuster.
For more information, e-mail Gwyn Donohue at NAHB, or call her at 800-368-5242 x8447.