Shop the mall, buy a house? KB Home tries new retail concept in Roseville

06/06/2014 6:26 PM

06/06/2014 10:45 PM

The folks at KB Home, one of the region’s largest homebuilders, are hoping that after shopping at Macy’s or REI, you’ll stop in at their new showroom in a Roseville shopping center, browse the displays of gleaming faucets and shining chandeliers – and maybe buy a house.

Plopping a “design studio” into a bustling retail center is a novel effort by the production homebuilder to give buyers more of a custom-home experience. It’s also a way to lure in potential new customers, attracted by the sleek kitchens and electric-car charging stations on display.

In last decade’s housing cycle, subdivision home shoppers typically picked out carpets and colors at construction sites or in business-park settings, with fewer choices and less ambiance.

At KB’s studio in Roseville, near the Westfield Galleria at Roseville Parkway and Galleria Boulevard, buyers sit in leather chairs sipping complimentary beverages, while a professional design consultant walks them through their choices. There are racks of doors, shelves of flooring and walls of cabinet samples on display in the airy, modern setting.

“It sets the stage for customer choice,” said Chris Cady, president of KB’s central California division.

Cady said KB plans to export the concept from the Sacramento area to its homebuilding regions across the nation.

“We’re moving to more of these because they’re a selling point,” he said. In the Central Valley, the company is building homes in Lincoln, Elk Grove, Roseville, Stockton, Modesto and Galt.

Industry experts called KB’s strategy cutting-edge.

“It’s an innovative approach,” said Ioannis Kazanis, a spokesman for the North State Building Industry Association. “KB is leading the way in this approach to allowing consumers to put a personal touch on the home they’re about to buy.” Kazanis said he was unaware of any other major homebuilder opening a design showroom in a retail setting.

On a recent afternoon, James and Sandra Sadighi made their final selections of cabinets and countertops for a home they’re buying in Lincoln. They’d been in twice before, once to get a preview of their choices and a second time to make their selections. Their third and last visit was a chance to make a few changes and confirm their purchases. Andrea Preston, a KB design consultant, walked them through the process.

Sandra Sadighi said she’d found buying their first home a stressful experience, but the relaxed and upscale setting of the design studio was “less stressful.”

The couple had picked out upgrades such as dual-zoned air conditioning for their four-bedroom, 2.5-bath house in KB’s Sierra Vista community. The base price of the house was $334,000, and the custom options raised it to $360,000, she said.

James Sadighi said he liked the design studio because it gave him an upper-crust experience at a middle-class price. “It affords an opportunity for average people to have a custom-designed home,” he said.

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