OPUS In the News
Opus Homes Grand Opening
When many people hear the word "Opus," one of the first things that comes to mind is an orchestra performing the works of a master composer. For people here in Woodbridge, and soon the town of Whitby, that word has now become synonymous with high-quality and stylish homes. Opus Homes recently celebrated their Grand Opening at 331 Cityview Blvd. to an incredible turnout of family, friends, clients, and supporters on January 24th. It was rather fitting that such a familial atmosphere was present during the Grand Opening as much of what Opus tries to accomplish, according to President Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco, is creating the optimal customer experience for families in the communities they build within. The company itself, launched in 2011, was built on a foundation of 35 years worth of construction experience, handed down from grandfather, to father and finally to daughter. The event also provided an update on a couple of Opus Homes communities. River's Edge in Castlemore is now down to just 3 lots remaining, while the new community currently planned in Whitby called Endeavour, is sure to be just as big a hit. Mayor Bevilacqua was on hand to offer his congratulations to the entire Opus team as well, joining the many in attendance in heaping praise for the work already done and the bright future ahead for everyone involved with Opus Homes.
Composing a multi-note Opus
Friday, February 3rd, 2012
The more irons Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco has in the fire, the happier she is.
At the same time 29-year-old was launching her new home building company in 2011, Opus Homes, DeGasperis-Ronco decided to add to her family. Just days from her second child's due date in early 2012, she was on hand as Opus held an open house at its new Vaughan offices and launched a site in Whitby the last weekend in January.
"I'm young, I have energy and I have never done well with just one task at hand," she explains. "I welcome the challenge and have no qualms that I'll be able to handle it (motherhood and running the company)."
She is quick to add that she has a trusted team of industry veterans backing her up, including her husband Michael Ronco (head of legal and development), sales and marketing director Domenic Bauco, construction head Mike Ferri and her dad Carlo, the company co-founder, "who supplies motivational support and pops in once or twice a week to advise me on how to run and manage various aspects of the company."
DeGasperis-Ronco is a member of a well-known building clan (Arista Homes). Her grandfather, father and uncles founded TACC Construction, a leader in earthmoving, sewer, water main and road building.
"You know when kids are young and they play teacher? My brother and sister and I — I'm the oldest of three — used to play TACC Construction. We'd be on the walkie talkies, directing what sites to drive machines to because we'd heard my dad do that. It's been in my blood. As soon as I started working in the industry, I loved everything about it and what I loved most is that I got to make people really happy because I was helping them create their dream home."
DeGasperis-Ronco studied business and marketing at York University before starting her career at Arista Homes as decor centre manager.
"They didn't have a full-fledged decor centre and were just starting to design one," she says. Under her supervision, the decor centre became one of the premier centres in the GTA. That's where she honed her customer relations skills, realizing that home buying is a heavily emotional experience for buyers, "so they are either completely upset with you or completely enamoured with you."
In 2008, DeGasperis-Ronco was asked by the Building Industry and Land Development Association (BILD) to chair a new committee, the decor managers' forum, comprised of about 30 people from around the GTA.
A few years ago her father asked her if she'd thought about starting her own company.
"Why would I want to do something like that?" was her initial response. "But he planted the seed and ultimately, I decided that was what I wanted.
"I've always been a hard worker as I always felt I had to prove myself because of my last name and my age. Those were the two factors that have pushed me harder to be better and to educate myself to know what I'm talking about."
Still, she appreciates being part of a building legacy. "The fact that family built such a great and diverse group of companies has only come to benefit me and they helped propel me forward with their expertise on development."
Opus Homes launched in 2011 and DeGasperis-Ronco has found herself in rare company as one of only a handful of women at the helm of home-building companies in Ontario.
She had a clear vision for how she wanted Opus to differentiate itself.
"The first priority is client relations and educating and informing buyers," she says. "We don't want them to feel blindsided by the home-buying process. We want to keep they very educated and involved in the entire process."
Calling on her decor background, DeGasperis-Ronco wanted to create distinctive upscale features that buyers get as standard in every Opus home (which so far have been geared to second or third-time buyers). These include eight-foot solid panel front doors, limestone fireplaces and stand-alone tubs in master ensuites.
"I think people appreciate those features and it helps us stand out from the crowd," she says.
The company started by looking for small sites in excellent locations. Opus Homes' first site, River's Edge in Brampton, offered detached homes on 40-, 50- and 65-foot lots and only two of 36 are still available. When Endeavour in Whitby launched in late January, 22 of 28 lots sold on opening weekend. Endeavour includes detached homes on 40- and 50-foot lots, in a double cul-de-sac surrounded by forest.
DeGasperis-Ronco says a sound marketing program has helped get Opus off to a successful start and the company has relied heavily on database and email marketing and giving a professional sales pitch. When people call or email Opus, they get a personal response from DeGasperis-Ronco or one of her team members.
Sustainability is another important part of the Opus philosophy. As well as energy-saving and eco-friendly features in its homes (heat recovery ventilators, dual-flush toilets, Energy Star appliances and lighting fixtures, products made from recycled or renewable materials), Opus has adopted a corporate green policy, using motion sensors to trigger lighting, using recycled paper, using natural light as much as possible and using filtered water served in glass or ceramic vessels with no plastic bottles allowed.
"You can't just talk the talk, you have to walk the walk," says DeGasperis-Ronco.
Instead of giving a traditional closing day gift to its buyers, Opus Homes has created the Families Helping Families program.
Buyers can choose from several charitable organizations that Opus supports and the company will make a donation in the buyers' name. Those charities include the Ride to Conquer Cancer, Earth Rangers, the Salvation Army (Brampton) and the ETA Vaughan women's shelter.
Carlo DeGasperis has participated in the Ride to Conquer Cancer for the past five years and in 2010 was the top contributor to the cause. Opus also contributed to CTV's Toy Mountain in 2011.
"I've been very privileged in my lifetime and been given a lot of opportunities and I need to pay it forward," says Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco.
Grand Opening of River's Edge
Keeping it Real Estate
17 October 2011
About a month ago, The Toronto Star's NewInHomes reported that OPUS Homes' highly anticipated community, River's Edge in Castlemore, would be coming soon. Not only is the new community highly anticipated, it is also OPUS' first release ever! With that in mind we are very excited to announce that the grand opening took place this weekend.
OPUS Homes invited one and all to come and see what this new development had to offer, and everyone was impressed. Local residents and purchasers took in what the project, and where please to see the flowing floorplans, proximity to fabulous amenities as well as its great value.
Located at Castlemore Road and McVean Drive in Brampton, River's Edge will be set amidst the most convenient and necessary amenities. Recently, the Castlemore community has been rapidly evolving; it has appeared on recent Trimart Hot Lists numerous times in the past couple of months, restaurants and shopping centres have been thriving, and the population is rising at a healthy rate. In addition to the multitude of area amenities, the surrounding environment is absolutely breathtaking.
The homes will be bordered by forest, and the West Humber River will weave through the community, gracing it with the serene sound of trickling water. The peaceful ambiance is also accented by the Riverstone Golf and Country Club, which is practically next door. Also, proximity to Highways 407 and 427 makes the rest of the GTA easily accessible. River's Edge has practically everything you and your family will need to grow happily together.
River's Edge in Castlemore will feature 36 luxurious detached homes on 40', 50', and 65' lots, and they will range from 2,101-4,535 square feet. There is a wide array of different home designs that have been strategically placed in order to make the streetscapes as aesthetically pleasing as possible.
The family-friendly layouts of each home make it possible to live comfortably in exquisite surroundings. The homes will have top quality features and finishes, which you can select from OPUS' excellent Decor Studio; OPUS believes that your space should reflect your family's unique personality and create an environment that says, "welcome home".
OPUS Homes understands that a home is where you create some of the best memories of your life, and it should be a stress-free, natural transition when acquiring a new one. They are prepared to offer the best quality in service throughout every stage of the homebuilding and homebuying process, from sales to decor to construction and on. Prices for a home in River's Edge are starting in the low $500,000's.
As stated above, the grand opening is this weekend; we promise that you do not want to miss out on this magnificent opportunity to own an OPUS home and be a part of this monumental occasion. If this exclusive community is a sign of things to come, then we are very excited to welcome OPUS Homes to the GTA.
Recipe for Success
Februray 3, 2012
Walk into an Opus Homes sales office and it might seem more like a family reunion than a meeting between new home buyers and sales representatives. And that's something that makes company founder Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco extremely proud.
"I can't tell you how many people I hugged because I felt I knew them already," says DeGasperis- Ronco just days after attending the launch of her company's second development, a community of 28 fully detached homes in Whitby, Ontario, called Endeavour.
A family-owned business based in Vaughan, Ontario, Opus Homes is leveraging than 35 years and three generations of DeGasperis family construction expertise to offer a slightly unique approach to new home development.
After honing her skills at Arista Homes where she led the redesign of the décor centre, DeGasperis- Ronco started the company with the goal of personalizing the entire new home experience, beginning with a strong emphasis on customer service.
"First and foremost I want to make people happy, to build them a home that they enjoy spending quality family time in," she says. "Italian family or not that's what we live for ... and I really want to makehomebuyers feel a part of the process."
The connection starts when prospective buyers register on the Opus Homes website. Through a comprehensive e-marketing campaign, they are kept in the loop, receiving information about Opus Homes, energy-saving choices, the exclusive features that come standard as part of the company's Living Refined initiative, and more. By the time they visit the sales centre, they should have already received most of the answers to their questions, she says.
Just as Opus One Winery in California has made a name for itself with an exclusive wine, Opus Homes is hoping to stand out from the crowd with three Living Refined features that will be a part of every home it builds: inviting eight-foot front doorways, luxurious lime fireplaces and standalone soaker tubs in the master ensuite. It is also differentiating itself with a new twist on the traditional closing day gift, offering homeowners the chance to select from a predetermined list of charities and making a donation to that charity in their name.
"Regardless of where we build, I want people to know that there are distinct features that make their home an Opus home," says DeGasperis-Ronco.
Since opening in May of 2011, Opus Homes has announced two communities: Endeavour in Whitby and River's Edge, an enclave of 36 detached homes in Brampton, Ontario, which opened in October.
After just three months, there are only two lots remaining at River's Edge and after just one week, only five lots remain in Whitby. All of which points to the fact that DeGasperis-Roncomayhave found a family recipe for success.
"I've never wanted to be looked upon as someone who was handed something on a silver platter," she says, noting that it's in her nature to work hard to prove otherwise. "I'm here for the right reasons. Let me show you what I've got."
For more information about Opus Homes, visit www.opushomes.com. In addition to Endeavour and River's Edge, the company is planning two additional projects for 2012 in Brampton andVaughan respectively.
Low-rise, high life: Dream home with money left to decorate
February 22nd, 2012
Lisa Van de Ven
You want the backyard, master suite, big kitchen — maybe even the white picket fence. All this in a new low-rise home. But where can you find one?
The truth is, low-rise means low inventory when it comes to finding new homes in the Greater Toronto Area. According to numbers released earlier this year by the Building Industry and Land Development (BILD) Association, low-rise made up only 38% of new- home sales in the GTA in 2011, compared with 75% of the market in 2000. A record-low four months worth of supply was left to sell as of January 1.
Market shifts aside, there are still new low-rise sites to choose from. You may just have to go a little farther out for them, or find an infill community by a developer willing to think small.
"We've seen an increase in activity over the last year in interest in our homes, and we're selling a lot more," says Richard Aubry, architect with Preston Group. "The availability of product … is not the same as it once was."
Preston Group is seeing that success in Newmarket, a town once considered on the edge in terms of acceptable commutable distances to Toronto. There, they're selling homes at Copper Hills, a project of 45-, 50-, and 52-foot lots; with homes ranging from 2,470 to 3,667 square feet and starting at $639,900. Even Newmarket, almost an hour north of Toronto, is reaching build-out, Mr. Aubry says.
"My opinion is that more and more of these towns are reaching build-out," he says. "The opportunity for greenfield development such as this are narrowing, and there's pressure to intensify, to create higher densities."
But while "higher density" can mean condominium growth, it doesn't have to. Some developers are finding interesting ways to intensify while still offering the low-rise product their buyers are after. Take Geranium Homes. The developer has a project in Pickering of 26 45- and 50-ft. lots on two culs-de-sac, called The Courts of South Rouge. The lots have been carved from older, longer lots in the mature neighbourhood, in an effort to intensify the area. Homes at the site range from 2,743 to 3,818 sq. ft. and are priced from $689,900. "It speaks to the need for intensification and to make use of everything you've got available," says Sue Webb Smith, Geranium's marketing director. "And it's not something that's imposing on the existing neighbourhood, it's something that fits right into it."
Endeavour, a Whitby site by Opus Homes, is another small infill project. It has 28 lots in total, of 40 and 50 feet. The site, located in a mature neighbourhood, backs on to forest and ravine land, and features homes ranging from 2,266 to 3,573 sq. ft. and starting at $459,990.
There are still some new opportunities for low-rise growth, says Opus president Andrea DeGasperis-Ronco. "If we can't find new developments, I think we're going to eventually have to do redevelopments," she says.
Or, developers — and buyers themselves — will have to move farther out, to new markets. That's happening already, at Branthaven Homes, which is currently selling Bravo! By the Lake in Grimsby, outside of Hamilton, and is seeing people coming from the western GTA —namely Mississauga and Etobicoke. They're willing to make the commute, says Branthaven president Steve Stipsits, especially considering the price points at the townhouse community. Homes there range from 1,365 to 1,657 sq. ft. and start at $223,990.
"Townhomes of similar sizes and a similar look in Oakville were selling for $500,000 recently," he says. "That's a big part of the draw, for sure. Plus, Grimsby's a nice place to be."
Like Ms. DeGasperis-Ronco, Mr. Stipsits still sees opportunity in the low-rise market surrounding the GTA; while developable land is harder to find, he says, there are still properties awaiting municipal approval that will open up some low-rise growth in the near future. In the meantime, he's exploring new markets. Besides Grimsby, the builder has three low-rise projects in Kitchener-Waterloo: Nestings, Doon Creek and Joy in Kitchener. Again, price points are lower than they would be in the GTA, and buyers from as far off as Mississauga are willing to make the commute to achieve that affordability.
"Drive a little, save a lot," is the phrase Dan Flomen, broker with TFN Realty, uses. "People have been commuting from Barrie and Aurora and Newmarket forever," he explains. "And the traffic going north to south is much more than it is to go west to east…. Plus a lot of people take the GO Train."
Mr. Flomen is working with Empire Communities, selling their low-rise sites west of the GTA, in locations such as Kitchener-Waterloo, Brantford and Hamilton. Those sites include Summerlea in Binbrook (where semi-detached and detached homes range from 1,309 to 2,799 sq. ft. and start at $254,990) and Riverland in Kitchener-Waterloo (homes range from 1,178 to 2,817 sq. ft. and start at $284,990). Secondary markets such as these, Mr. Flomen predicts, will continue to build up as the greater GTA continues to grow.