Kansas City homebuilder adapts to new realities while expanding to new markets and emphasizing charitable giving
By Zack Johnston
Building homes and communities is no ordinary practice. In fact, it should be something quite personal when you are building the place where people build their lives. It becomes even more personal when the home is considered one of the safest places you can be. This kind of personalized community building is embodied in the work of Summit Homes, a single family homebuilder based in Kansas City specializing in master-planned, multi-product communities.
Summit Home prides itself on creating fully developed communities that can appeal to a variety of demographics in multiple regions. The company is driven by a desire to build places with a sense of belonging, and by a culture of charitable giving that helps foster community.
With home construction deemed as an essential service within its markets, Summit Homes has been able to maintain operations during the COVID-19 health crisis, with some notable adjustments in the name of protecting public health. By already having some virtual measures in place, it was a smooth and quick transition to remote operations.
Embracing Virtual Life
Whether it’s enticing new customers or servicing existing ones, Summit Homes has taken virtual experiences and preventative social distancing to heart during this pandemic. Homebuyers are still out there interested in finding that perfect home, and Summit Homes finds ways to accommodate customer needs in safe and practical ways.
During this time, when things were changing quickly, our team came together. With a lot of communication, teamwork and collaboration, we were able to keep our commitment to our home buyers,” said Zalman Kohen, Chief Operations Officer of Summit Homes.
Community Managers began working from home, and working with clients to schedule appointments for virtual showings. Summit Homes was already familiar with digital contract signing, a highly useful tool for customers wanting to make that final decision in the safety of their current home. For others who need that in-person experience before signing any paperwork, Summit Homes still gave one-on-one appointments provided the customer complete a quick health screening questionnaire.
Customers that were previously already under contract were still able to have their new homes completed on time, and to go through the new home orientation process while still observing social distancing protocols.
“During this time, when things were changing quickly, our team came together. With a lot of communication, teamwork and collaboration, we were able to keep our commitment to our home buyers.” – Zalman Kohen, Chief Operations Officer of Summit Homes
According to Kohen, thinking ahead and having preparations in place was a huge benefit to the business. “Have a marketing and public relations strategy prepared so that you’re ready to tackle anything that comes your way,” he detailed.
It can help in uncertain situation like these to be communicative with all parties involved, and to even over-communicate in some cases.
“We’re thankful we continued to operate and keep our amazing trades busy. And, continue to sell and complete homes for those that are ready to make a move,” Kohen said.
The Summit of Homebuilding
Summit Homes is the largest new home builder in Kansas City, and recently expanded into the Des Moines, Iowa, region. By designing master-planned communities with multiple kinds of products, buyers can find what they’re looking for no matter where they are at in the homeownership process. In fact, Summit was the first builder in Kansas City to open a Design Studio for its customers.
From first-time buyers to families seeking a multi-gen solution, Summit Homes has everyone covered.
Now more than ever, our homes need to be not only energy-efficient, but that need to also help foster a healthy living environment. The Summit Cares program includes over 20 different features to do exactly that.
Things like LED lighting, energy efficient HVAC and water heater systems, Energy Star appliances, and programmable thermostats help to bring down a home’s daily energy use. To help save on water, Summit Cares offers features like water-conserving faucets and toilets, and a rain-sensing irrigation system that knows when to disable itself.
Building a healthy home comes down to the indoor air quality, and Summit Homes goes above and beyond when it comes to this quality. Before new owners move in, the Summit team does a complete duct cleaning. The air system has the highest quality air filters, and a humidifier that carries moist air during heating seasons. This system is also designed to maintain the home’s air pressure, filter out unwanted particles, and, if desired, can clean the air in the home furnace, reducing the allergens.
To top things off, Summit Homes uses a special house wrap material that prevents infiltration of air and water, while letting water vapor escape. It also uses anti-microbial tile grout and eco-friendly damp proofing in the foundation. All of these features help to prevent rot, mold, and mildew and to keep the air fresh and healthy.
Summit Homes prices range from the high $200s to $600K in order to cater to a wider audience. The company even offers an exclusive line of “Care-Free” homes including maintenance services, and also just announced a new product line, Home Squared, which includes a wide variety of options to fit exactly with the buyer’s lifestyle.
Building great homes is just one part of the Summit Homes culture. Another defining characteristic is charitable giving. The company supports numerous organizations committed to helping children and those unable to help themselves. An employee-led Charitable Contributions Committee directs how the company dedicates its time and resources to charities that empower communities.
These organizations include Children’s Mercy, Drumm Farm Center for Children, Hope Haven of Cass County, Boys & Girls Clubs of Greater Kansas City, and Harvesters: The Community Food Network.