25 Years of Serving the Homebuilding Industry
David Schoner, Vice President of CB New Homes, is recognized throughout the industry for his knowledge and expertise in new homes. This month, Dave is celebrating a quarter century with the company. A lot has changed in that time, and we wanted to talk to him about his experiences during 25 years of serving the homebuilding industry. Here are Dave’s insights on the past, present, and future of residential building in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, New York, and Connecticut, the areas CB New Homes primarily serves.
Q: Dave, I understand that in the beginning, CB New Homes’ mission was to support Coldwell Banker local office associates when they had a builder who wanted to list new construction. But now CBNH seems to offer so much more. Tell us a little about that evolution and what it means to today’s homebuilders.
Dave: In the beginning, there were many more small- to mid-sized builders with subdivisions of 25 to 50 single-family homes.
Ultimately, mainly in response to the implementation of environmental regulations in New Jersey, development went on to be more focused on urban areas. That’s where you’d find the infrastructure and train service and so forth…Hoboken, Jersey City, etc. As a result, multi-family became the thing, and leasing also came into play.
As the landscape changed, the building of condos, townhouses, and apartments became more prevalent in New Jersey, so I decided it was time to create a group to service these larger accounts with CBNH-employed sales staff working full-time, on-site for those builder clients. Last year our team closed over 500 homes, over 80% of which were attached homes.
Q: You mentioned a distinct shift from mostly single-family detached home subdivisions in the suburbs to attached, multi-family, apartments, townhouses, and condos in various locations including suburbs, infill, and urban areas. What is CBNH’s current split between apartments and for-sale housing?
Dave: We are currently at about a 50/50 split between rental and for-sale communities. But we’ve always got our eyes on the horizon. If there’s a change coming, we’re likely to be the first to know about it.
The tide is continually changing, and CBNH has always been exceptionally good at getting out in front of those changes. We’re currently in an unprecedented market, but CBNH’s flexibility has always been its greatest asset.
For instance, in addition to planned subdivisions and multi-family projects, local CB associates still work with custom home builders developing spot lots—say, an older home in need of demolition. The builder may construct a new home valued at far more than the former property, oftentimes in the million-dollar-plus range.
No matter the size or scale of the new construction project, what truly sets CB New Homes apart is our emphasis on business intelligence, which allows us to strategically position communities and homes for optimal sales price and velocity.
My degree is in Urban Planning, so research has always been my stock-in-trade. It’s important to pay attention to the data, no matter what product or service you’re offering. Years ago, I decided to create a database consisting of profiles for every active subdivision in New Jersey. Since then, we’ve expanded it to include Connecticut, southern New York, Philadelphia, and eastern Pennsylvania. We currently have over 4,000 profiles in that database, and it’s constantly being updated. I think of it as a sharp knife that cuts through everything.
Q: What led you to undertake such a huge task?
Dave: It became a necessity because we found other data sources unreliable. CBNH’s research division still does what they’ve always done, only now they can do it quicker and go deeper. This more thorough analysis is turned around faster, thanks to our proprietary data.
Research-driven sales are achieved and sustained through market research conducted throughout the life of the job. CBNH knows when things are changing—and we know it quickly. It’s a value-added service that we provide to every client, regardless of size or number of housing units.
Q: So, in addition to the expansion of CBNH’s offerings, your office continues its original mission of assisting Coldwell Banker local office associates who are trying to land a smaller builder. What does that collaboration look like? What kinds of services does CBNH offer those CB associates?
Dave: Serving the homebuilding industry is a unique niche with specific needs. As we have always done, we provide collateral materials and guidance to all our clients, and we extend that to local CB associates representing new construction. The form that takes depends on the size of the job…whether 2 lots or 15 lots…whether in NJ, NY, southeastern PA, or CT…what kind of a property it is, etc. CBNH can provide everything from renderings and floor plans to signage, banners on buildings, billboards, websites, and email marketing—and we provide many of these tools to the local CB associates without cost. Even with a tight budget, every builder gets this invaluable CBNH marketing expertise and unmatched service. CBNH can even provide quick analysis to see if there’s another price point the builder should consider or another product line or property they should be looking at.
Q: There’s no getting around how much marketing and advertising has changed during your 25 years serving the homebuilding industry. Can you give us your thoughts on the most effective way to allocate marketing dollars in today’s world? How much digital and social media marketing do you do for your clients, versus traditional marketing?
Dave: Digital is more impactful than most print today. Especially important are Google search and display advertising. Driving traffic through ranking high on Google can get expensive, but it’s crucial. MLS is still impactful. Signage too, although towns have generally become more restrictive about signage. Some local online press is good for PR and/or small ads. And, of course, we offer social media marketing services when appropriate, depending on the target market for the project.
Q: Finally, can you talk a little about CBNH’s ability to adapt and adjust its approach to constantly changing market conditions and circumstances. I’m thinking particularly about the challenges presented by the COVID-19 situation.
Dave: Our on-site sales and leasing staff has been only too happy to prepare virtual property tours and post those videos to social media, as well as offering one-on-one personal tours via Facetime, Zoom, etc. We’ve even sold some homes sight unseen, thanks to these innovative efforts!
During the pandemic, access to the outdoors became a big consideration, as well as space to work and exercise from home. Lifestyle amenities in multi-family communities were shut down during COVID. Those apartments and condominiums were designed to be smaller because of the amenities offered, with the idea that residents would mingle and socialize in the common areas and didn’t need a larger residence, but COVID affected that perception. People started feeling a bit of cabin fever. They started wanting more room inside their homes—including dedicated home office space—and private outdoor living areas.
As we move past COVID-19, some will revert to urban environments, but others will not, preferring instead to retain their larger residences and outdoor living space. Some will move into older urban areas, especially younger people who are not as fearful of living in closer quarters and those who prefer the entertainment, sports, and cultural amenities offered by urban areas. Using New York City as an example, two of the driving forces that will entice some to make the city their home are reduced rents and increased incentives. With Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs in mind, I would say that as long as public safety can be resolved and people can once again feel safe being on the streets, a certain number of them will move into or return to the cities.
Q: Thanks, Dave, for sharing your experiences and insights. And congratulations again on 25 years serving the homebuilding industry!
Dave: Thank you. It’s an incredibly interesting and rewarding profession that I continue to enjoy to this day.
Recognized throughout the industry for his knowledge and expertise in new homes, David Schoner oversees all aspects of market research, sales, marketing, and broker outreach for CB New Homes and its builder clients. Under his guidance, the CB New Homes Division has grown into one of the tri-state area’s most respected new home sales and marketing companies. Dave has led the development of CB New Homes from a suburban subdivision-oriented organization into a premier, full–service condominium and townhome sales, apartment leasing and marketing powerhouse, earning the trust of many of the area’s most prominent homebuilders.
To put the knowledge and expertise of Dave Schoner and his team of new home sales and marketing professionals to work for you, contact CB New Homes at (973) 407-5460 or firstname.lastname@example.org.