Contributing Editor

Susan Bady has been writing about the housing industry for 25 years. She most recently served as senior editor of design for Professional Builder and Custom Builder magazines, and is now a contributing editor to those publications as well as the portal Web site HousingZone.com. Bady has also written for such consumer magazines as Cabin Life and Better Homes and Gardens’ Home Plan Ideas. You can reach her at susanbady@sbcglobal.net.

Darling Homes knows how to stir buyers’ passions

In the June issue of Professional Builder, I discussed the American Classic Series by Dallas-based Darling Homes. Unfortunately there was no room for photos of the homes, so I’ve included a shot of the Lantana model here.

When I spoke to Mike Carter, then vice president of marketing for Darling Homes, he said, “It’s all about symmetry and following classic architecture. So many builders out there today, especially the larger builders, have gotten into this production mode. And we’ve stepped back to say, ‘What is it that makes a home special? What makes it unique?’”

The American Classic Series aims to fulfill the desire of a certain segment of buyers for homes built in the 1920s and 1930s. Some of these buyers are purchasing older homes in the M Streets, a neighborhood in the heart of Dallas that has an upscale, suburban feel. “They love the charm and character of older homes but then they have to do renovations, and it’s still not the school district they want,” Carter said. “So we saw an opportunity to take timeless, classic designs and build them new in master-planned communities. People can personalize [the homes] the way they want from day one, and they’re getting the best of everything.”

Open floor plans are available in both one- and two-story designs with a variety of options, including game rooms, three-car garages and second-story media rooms. They’re not the biggest homes on the block (the largest plan is 3,500 square feet), but they have that “wow” factor discerning buyers are looking for, he said. Note the front porches and louvered shutters, the transom windows and wainscoting, the crown molding and custom cabinetry. Buyers can even paint their homes in bold colors such as canary yellow. That alone would make some hearts skip a beat.

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