Since 1977, Belmonte Builders has been building high-quality homes in the Capital Region. A family-owned business, Belmonte takes pride in working closely with each customer to personalize their home and meet their unique needs.
55+ Living recently had a chance to talk with Belmonte Builders’ owner, Peter Belmonte about his business and trends he sees with customers 55+ looking to downsize.
How did you get started in home building?
My father started building new homes in 1977. After I graduated from college, I worked in corporate America for a few years. In 1985, my father invited me to join him. I was excited to have the opportunity to help build a family business in an industry that I had a lot of interest. I am very proud of the company Belmonte Builders has become.
What’s your favorite part of running Belmonte Builders?
I’m very thankful that I’ve been able to grow the business into a brand that not only my family but also my work family can be proud of. I’ve also had the opportunity to meet people in so many different businesses. Learning about the backgrounds of our customers, tradespeople, suppliers, municipal leaders, and others has given me an appreciation for how important it is to be open to new ideas and ventures. I love talking with people. My family calls me the “mayor” because no matter where we go, I run into someone I know and have to stop to talk with them.
As the owner, what do you think sets Belmonte Builders apart from its competitors?
We work very hard to do right by our customers. Building a new home is fun and exciting, but can be stressful at times, too. Although we do this work every day, this may be the first time our customer has gone through the process, and we want it to be as streamlined as possible for them. We also never lose sight of the fact that no matter how well things seem to be working, there is always a way we can make it better. We always strive to be better than the day before.
What are the most common features empty-nesters are looking for in a new home?
Downsizing means different things to different people. Some people truly want a smaller home with no yard. Others simply need a more flexible floor plan that allows them to live comfortably on the 1st floor with enough room for guests. This is the house they plan to live in for the rest of their lives and they know what they want and need.
The 55+ buyer is savvy. This isn’t their first home and they know what they want. They also know what they don’t what and aren’t interested in features they don’t use often: whirlpool tubs, dining rooms, too many bedrooms. In most cases, downsizing means getting rid of rooms they don’t need while adding space and features to the rooms they use the most.
As you would probably guess, most 55+ buyers are looking for a ranch or master on the main floor with a low maintenance lot. They also prefer more open space, with fewer walls and hallways in their floor plans. We designed our Weston floor plan with that in mind. It is unique because it is an open floor plan that is flexible – we can build it as a master down or as a ranch. We debuted in 2019 at the Showcase of Homes and it became our top-selling plan in just a few months.
The addition of a screened porch and outdoor living space is a popular feature because this buyer doesn’t plan to move again and wants to be able to enjoy all aspects of being at home no matter what the season.
One of the more practical trends we see with the downsizing demographic is in the bathroom. Large showers that have a bench and in some cases, a zero-entry bath are popular and sometimes necessary depending on the buyer’s health needs.
A trend that we are seeing across all of our customers is a shift away from a formal dining room to a study. This trend started before the pandemic but has intensified as homeowners need more space to work with privacy. It’s not uncommon for owners to convert bedrooms or bonus rooms into 2nd offices to allow families to have their own workspaces at home.
How has the Pandemic impacted the way you work with customers?
COVID-19 has made everyone rethink and reinvent ways to safely work and communicate. For customers who want to tour our homes in person, we have safety precautions in place: masks required, temperature screenings, limited # of people allowed, cleaning of homes after each customer, etc. For those who are not comfortable going out, we offer virtual tours.
For customers in the process of building, we’ve developed new ways to review selections digitally with a full visual guide and use web conference calls to discuss and finalize their selections. The changes to our process have been so widely well-received that we plan to continue them as an option once the pandemic is over.
What advice would you give to people who want to downsize now?
This is advice not just for people looking to downsize, but for anyone building a new home. Don’t just plan for now. When choosing or designing a new home, try to develop it with both your current needs and future needs in mind.
The pandemic has created a strong market for resales and interest rates are historically low making it a great time to sell your home and buy a new one. It has impacted the building process as well making it take a little longer. So be sure you talk with your builder about your timeline so you can plan accordingly.
Belmonte Builders is featured in the 2020 Digital Downsizing Virtual Open House Tours. To tour their featured home at 5 Greenbrier Way, click here. You’ll find information about the community including an interview with the Belmonte team, a photo gallery, and a video walkthrough of the home.
Belmonte Builders is currently building in Saratoga Springs, Wilton, Round Lake, Halfmoon, Stillwater, and Clifton Park. To learn more about Belmonte Builders neighborhoods and floor plans, visit: BelmonteBuilders.com.