Customization is the Key to Selling

Customization is what motivates buyers to choose a house—and make it their home\

By Tommy Beadel

It was was Albert Einstein who said, “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”

At Thomas James Homes, we have taken his guidance to heart—among our core values is a commitment to simplicity in the homebuilding process. This means eliminating stress and frustration through thoughtful consideration and better answers.

At the same time, we try to retain a relentless focus on building homes that are a sanctuary, places to reduce the stress of urban life. Quality is woven into everything we do—our available designs, our materials, our thoughtful high-end touches. This also means a commitment to customization—options that help each buyer transform their house into a home, and a private refuge for their family.

Customization and simplicity can sometimes seem like contradictions in the selling and building process. There are countless decisions, big and small, that come together to transform a floor plan on a page and a catalogue of options into a single place where a family comes together to start and end each day and recover from everyday stress.

As builders consider how to elevate the customization experience and retain that critical simplicity, here are a few guiding principles that can help inform strategy.

Begin with a solid start. Don’t begin with bare bones. Design the base package that becomes the springboard for the home of their dreams with a package that is commensurate to market. Given the opportunity, buyers will spend money to customize their homes, especially if it is located in the neighborhoods they love.

More choice is better. In a world where most builders are taking choice away from buyers, it’s worth standing apart by providing as many opportunities to customize as possible. This is what personalizing a new home is all about, and it infuses the process with a level of creativity that truly engages a buyer.

Process is key to decisions and design. Even as you’re keeping the level of selection and customization high, you can’t lose sight of the options and design process. That process has to be managed by experts for it to feel simple and inviting to buyers. It could be that it’s not the level of choice that’s making the buying process so difficult, but rather the process by which your designers, sales consultants, collateral, and model homes introduce these choices.

If you are finding that having more choices makes the selection process too difficult or burdensome, it’s worth taking a close look at how your team is presenting these options to the buyer. Often, it is a question of the right training and process around options, and not reducing the options themselves, which will make the process feel smooth and organic for both the buyer and the builder.

Builders make houses; options make homes. You can find the key to success in residential real estate design in the simple distinction between “house” and “home.” It’s a distinction that’s driven so much of the sales and marketing around new home construction for decades. And yet, it hardly seems like it’s been fully explored. Anyone can build a “house,” and as builders, our first and most important goal is to insure we are delivering high-quality, enduring properties for our buyers.

But it’s in the design and the details that a “house” becomes a “home,” and no matter how many units a builder may sell, their buyers will ultimately remember the small, custom touches that transform a house they selected from a design catalogue into a true sanctuary.

No single choice matters more than all the choices, together. Think for a moment about the house where you’ve lived the longest. Think about the places that are most memorable to you in that house—the spots where family and friends gathered, or the quiet corners where you could read. Think about the design elements that went into those spaces; whether the house is decades old or built last year, someone picked the paint colors and wall treatments, chose the countertops, and decided upon the countless details that combine to create a home.

And yet, it’s highly unlikely that the buyers of that home remember why they picked that paint or that countertop. (It’s just as unlikely that they recall what they paid for it.) As a house becomes a home, each of those options becomes meaningful in aggregate, taking disparate choices and blending them together into a place of comfort and security.

Tommy Beadel is the CEO and Co-Founder of Thomas James Homes. He writes about the TJH experience, disrupting the new home industry, reducing the stress of urban life, and building homes that are sanctuaries. For more information, visit

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