Upgrade Opportunities in Housing Market
March 19, 2007
PHILADELPHIA - It’s a buyer’s market in residential home sales. Housing prices, high just a few years ago, have dropped in many parts of the United States. New home sales fell 16.6 percent in January to an annual rate of 937,000. At the end of February, Home Depot Inc. forecast declining 2007 profits and slower sales growth because of the U.S. housing slump.
The HVAC market will need to adjust to these realities. It should also be on the lookout for opportunities. Among other things, people who are buying homes will see their money go further. Offering increased amenities is a shrewd move. In addition to more aesthetic amenities - fixtures, flooring, etc. - one home builder is offering its customers top-of-the-line HVAC system upgrades. Heritage Homes Group, a leading homebuilder located in the Philadelphia area, has teamed up with Lennox Industries to offer customers more-efficient home comfort with upgraded IAQ features.
SEEING POSSIBILITIESFred Moore, president of Philadelphia-area HVAC company Comfort Creators, recognizes the potential for homebuyers to spend their money on an upgraded HVAC system. “Some homebuyers will spend $5,000 to $10,000 for a chandelier, but they won’t spend the money for a better home comfort system because they’re not educated on the benefits.
The housing market has some bright spots in the Delaware Valley. “There is a strong demand in the Northeast for $600,000 to $1 million homes,” Moore said, “but builders are still installing 80 percent efficient furnaces. A better system may cost the homeowner $50 more in their mortgage payment, but save them $60 a month on utility costs. They’re actually saving money by installing a better system.”
Comfort Creators specializes in residential new construction. It offers sheet metal and fiberglass duct fabrication and installation; ongoing training; professional system design capabilities; and service to all brands of HVAC equipment.
BUILDER TRANSITIONSBack when Lennox business development manager Brian Feenie was working as one of the manufacturer’s territory managers, he helped Heritage Homes transition from their 10 SEER air conditioning units to the government-mandated 13 SEER units.
David Brandschain, president, and Feenie developed several home comfort options. These are presented to the homeowner so they can decide which one best suits their needs. The top-of-the-line Ultimate Upgrade package will be offered as an option in every Heritage Home community in 2007. The system contains the Lennox 94 percent AFUE G61V gas furnace; the XC21R-410A air conditioner; and the HC16 air filtration system, which captures more than 95 percent of 0.3 micron-sized pollutant particles.
The Healthy Climate® 16 media air cleaner does not require an additional power source for installation, and no regular cleaning or vacuuming are required for its maintenance. The filter is replaced once a year, depending on individual conditions in the home.
The filter’s SlimLine cabinet provides for installations in tight applications, a key consideration in both the new home and retrofit markets. The 7-inch cabinet is said to support up to 400 pounds.
BUYERS' BENEFITS“The best part of this solution is that Lennox has provided HVAC system options training to Heritage sales associates, so they can present the most educated and informative explanations about their home comfort choices,” said Feenie. “There is even a software tool the sales people can demonstrate HVAC system costs comparisons with energy costs over time. It helps the customer visually see the value in choosing the upgrade.”
Heritage also was most interested in providing higher-efficiency equipment options to its customers. David Brandschain, president of Heritage Homes, cited two big reasons for focusing on home comfort in the new home market.
“The rise in utility and gas prices is a pressing issue for consumers, so we’re committed to reducing energy usage and their monthly costs. It’s money in their pockets, and it helps protect the environment. “This is the wave of the future, and Heritage wants to be a leader in this area.”
For more information, visit www.chooseheritage.com.
Publication date: 03/19/2007