A family-run business, National Homes was founded in 1992, an offshoot of Pantalone Realty. Over the years, they’ve developed low-rise projects across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), as well as having active commercial development and custom-home building divisions. These days, National is starting sales at The Forest by National in Bradford and are about to begin construction at The Churchill Collection, a townhouse project in Forest Hill. New home sites in Newmarket and Etobicoke are scheduled to be released this winter. Deena Pantalone is National’s director of sales and marketing.
Q: Has the market changed over the years National Homes has been in business? If so, how have you kept up?
A: I would say the market has changed tremendously. Depending on the areas we’ve built in, we’ve had to adjust our product, plans and designs depending on the economic climate and who our target market is. National, basically from the beginning, has held focus groups. We really wanted to learn about the market: how our buyers live, and what were they looking for in terms of functional design features, exterior finishes and things like that.
Q: What do those focus groups tell you in terms of what buyers are looking for intoday’s market?
A: There are different things they’re looking for, depending on the different locations and target markets. In some markets, multi-family living is important, so if we’re able to – depending on the price point – we design in-law suites or different living spaces that can accommodate that. The designs of our homes have evolved over time to meet their needs, it just depends on the market and where we are building.
Q: How do you develop buyer loyalty?
A: We do surveys and are in close contact even after our buyers purchase homes from us. We let them know what’s going on at National, we invite them to the focus groups, we invite them to the design studio to do workshops on design, as well as to some other community events so we can keep the relationship going.
Q: Land constraints and regulations have slowed down low-rise development throughout the GTA. As a low-rise developer, are there new locations or new forms of building you take on during this slower moving market?
A: Because the infrastructure in certain areas of the GTA is delayed, we’ll focus on some of the other areas of our business – we build industrial/commercial and have built retirement residences that we owned and operated for 12 years – or we do some custom home work, or build infill in downtown Toronto.
Q: How do you see the low-rise market evolving in the future?
A: I think low-rise will still be in high demand. It is a pretty rare commodity, just because land is at such a premium, but low-rise will always be in demand.