Homeowner Highlights: Employee Edition
Although Laura Spead has worked at Eastbrook Homes for the past five years, it wasn’t a foregone conclusion that she would become a customer. After all, buying a home is a huge investment and she wanted to get it right.
Spead and her husband were in the market for a home because she had been commuting from the lakeshore to the Eastbrook office in Grand Rapids and wanted to move closer to work. They first explored renting a house and were confronted with “astronomical” monthly payments that didn’t seem reasonable. Then they looked at existing houses and encountered tons of competing buyers who would bid the sales prices far above what Spead and her husband were comfortable spending on a used home.
After vetting those two unsatisfying options, the couple decided that building a new home with Eastbrook was the best choice for their growing family.
“Who knows how long it would have taken us to find something on the existing market?” Spead said. “And then if we were going to overpay anyway because the existing market is selling so high, why not stretch our budget just a little bit to get exactly what we wanted (with a new build)?”
As a customer closing manager for Eastbrook, Spead spends much of her time guiding the homebuilding process for other people. It’s telling that when it came time for her and her husband to become homeowners, they opted to go through the same process themselves.
And she’s not the only Eastbrook employee who has taken that path. Time and time again, people who work at Eastbrook choose to make perhaps the biggest investment of their lives by building a home with Eastbrook.
“It was an easy decision just because of what I know of Eastbrook, their integrity, the quality of the homes,” Spead said. “It just made sense.”
Spead and her family, which is expecting a third child in June, have already moved into their Stockton model home in Eastbrook’s Lowing Woods community, west of Grand Rapids. The neighborhood, which is full of people at the same stage of life with little kids, has been the perfect fit.
Here’s a look at the homebuilding stories of three more Eastbrook employees:
Baylie Mooney, young adult moving from downtown condo
Baylie Mooney already owns a condo in downtown Grand Rapids. But after adopting a husky during the pandemic, her house started to feel a little cramped. She began thinking maybe it was time to move into a bigger home, one with a yard for her dog.
Dealing with the stress of the real estate market was not appealing, however. So, when a friend from work started building a home with Eastbrook, Mooney realized that maybe she, too, was financially ready to build.
Sure enough, construction is underway and the foundation of Mooney’s new Poppy home in Eastbrook’s Cook’s Crossing community south of Grand Rapids just got poured. If that’s not exciting enough, even better for Mooney has been working with the design professionals in Eastbrook’s Home Creation Studio to select all the interior finishings. A big perk of building new is building your home with everything you want.
“The most fun part of this whole process is getting to pick out exactly what tile, exactly what floor, what wall colors, what cabinets,” said Mooney, an estimator who takes plans for Eastbrook homes and creates purchase orders for every single item.
“I had so many design possibilities and it was so fun having a designer help me narrow down what’s actually going to look good in the house. She really helped me mesh it together in one cohesive look.”
Mark Wittekind, married empty nester
Unlike Mooney, Mark Wittekind’s favorite part of building a home with Eastbrook was that he didn’t have to make any design choices. Looking to downsize from a house on three acres with a trout pond, Wittekind and his wife opted for one of Eastbrook’s Move In Homes, an already-built condominium in the Autumn Trails community near Rockford, north of Grand Rapids.
“We didn’t have to make all the design decisions, so for us that was the magic moment,” Wittekind said. “We had a whole team of people that did a fantastic job of putting everything together.”
To be fair, as Eastbrook’s director of architecture, Wittekind did have a hand in designing his Channing model home. His team came up with the whole floor plan! It’s an “open and very comfortable, livable” design with a sunroom off the back where Wittekind and his wife spend a lot of time – time they now have because they’re no longer mowing and maintaining the 3-acre lawn at their previous home.
“It was beautiful (at our old house), but a lot of maintenance,” Wittekind said. “Condos, there’s no mowing. No shoveling.
“I can’t believe we didn’t do it sooner.”
Taylor Youngs, young adult and first-time homebuyer
Like so many prospective homeowners, Taylor Youngs was frustrated. She went to countless open houses and showings, put in a half-dozen offers on existing homes and lost out every time – “not even just by a little, but by so much!”
Youngs wasn’t planning for her first home to be a new build, but banging her head into the impenetrable wall of the existing market made it easy to wonder if building with Eastbrook was possible for her. She quickly discovered that the answer was yes!
The idea that Youngs could go into Eastbrook with the same budget that she had for an existing home and experience a one-stop shop with amazing designers and no bidding wars was liberating.
“I don’t have to go out and be ‘Oh, my gosh, I have to redo this roof,’” said Youngs, a homeowners association manager with Eastbrook. “I don’t have to compete with other people.
“I look at the available lots. I look at my budget and what fits where, and I go from there. They have such a great grasp on the different products and what works well with your lifestyle. They respect your budget, and they find things that work within that that look really, really good.”
Youngs decided to build a Rowen home plan in Eastbrook’s Cook’s Crossing community, and construction is currently at the tail end of framing. Instead of hopelessly going through open houses on the existing market, she’s now able to walk through a new build that soon will be her own new home.
Youngs cannot wait for closing day.
“It’s really stressful (trying to buy a house on the existing market) and building can be stressful as well, but it’s in the best way, knowing that something amazing is coming,” she said. “Sometimes as I’m about to fall asleep, I’m, like, ‘I’m building a house. It’s a thing. It’s a real thing!’”