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Customized models emerge as new home alternative.

In the past, buyers of new homes usually faced two choices: Select from a limited group of model homes or have the house custom built. But today's housing market has spurred the emergence of a third alternative - the customized model.

"It just isn't enough to offer model homes today," said William O'Gorman, sales director at Water's Edge in Saratoga Springs, New York. "Buyers want exactly what they want, and in this environment, they figure they can get it. As far as we're concerned, they can."

"Marketing strategies have switched," noted Robert Nelson, vice president of Nelson Equities, developer of Water's Edge. "We now offer extensive interior customizing, even though the footprints and exteriors of each model will cont uniform.

"Each interior will now reflect the buyer's vision, not ours," he said. "If someone wishes to have four fireplaces, and put the master suite on the first floor, we can do that and still maintain the uniform appearance of our carefully planned community."

Given their new-found power, what are home buyers choosing for their customized interiors?

Well, first-floor master suites are, in fact, prominent on the list, according to O'Gorman.

"New-home buyers tend to be older today than in the past," O'Gorman observed. "Some want the spaciousness of a traditional colonial for upstairs bedrooms, but would rather not climb those steps themselves. This is a radical break from the past."

Other popular features include: *Guest suites. Some buyers are requesting a second bedroom bath/dressing-area for quests. *Highly functional bathrooms. In contrast to yesterday's buyers, today's seem to want less flamboyance and more functionality from their new bathrooms, with bathtub, showers and sink in one room, and commode areas separated. Saratoga architect George Olsen, who works with buyers at Waters Edge, notes that some people are willing to sacrifice footage from their master bedrooms to accommodate larger bathroom complexes. *Porches. They are staging a comeback, even in planned developments. *Fireplaces. Buyers prefer back-to-back configurations. Perhaps surprisingly, bedroom fireplaces are not proving to be very popular in new homes, because hearths take away too much functional space. *Kitchen sightlines. Parents want to be able to see clearly into the den from key points in the kitchen so they can keep an eye on younger children at play. Breakfast-table space. Room for a table near a window is a common desire.
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Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Nov 11, 1992
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