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Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

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Outlook 2020 – Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Part of our series of Outlook 2020 Q&As with building industry executives

How do you see the outlook for the new home industry in 2020?

We’re going to see strong demand fueled by record population growth. The period from August 2018 to July 2019 was the largest 12-month population increase in Canada’s history. And the industry is not building enough housing, especially rental housing. At the end of November 2019, ReMax predicted a six-per-cent increase in the average cost of a Toronto resale home in 2020 – fueled by demand that just isn’t being met.

Deena Pantalone
Deena Pantalone, Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation, National Homes

Ben Myers of Bullpen Research says Toronto needs 22,000 new rental apartments a year to create a healthy vacancy rate of three per cent. If you include all the new purpose-built rental units coming on, say 4,000, plus if you assume that three-quarters of all new condos will be rented, then we’re still falling 9,000 units short. That’s not good for renters, homeowners or the health of our economy.

One thing I definitely see is that people are open to new ideas, new technology and design that will make their lives easier and give them time for the important things in their lives. And that means property technology (Proptech) will become more and more central to their lives, and to the building industry in general.

And what’s the outlook for National Homes?

For decades now, National has focused on putting the needs of our customers first, and that’s what our You are the Blueprint philosophy is all about.

This year, we’re introducing a wide range of “Bright Ideas” that were developed at National’s inaugural Blueprint Workshop. Globally recognized leaders in the fields of technology, product development and design, participated in group interactions and the co-creation process. Also taking part were dozens of past and prospective National buyers of varied ages and demographics; National staff architects, designers and engineers; and students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program. The results are now being unveiled in our newest communities.

What is National Homes doing to address the issues facing the homebuilding industry – namely, affordability and new home supply?

Our Bright Ideas are intended to make people’s lives simpler, from innovative Proptech to design solutions. We are introducing four different townhome projects, from Courtice in the east to Burlington in the west. We are also introducing new construction thinking, such as our Panergy Wall Systems that bring factory efficiency and quality with significant energy cost savings, year after year.

We’re also making it easier for young families to own with plans for flexible down payment programs.

What more could the industry do to address these issues?

It’s all about innovation! The building industry hasn’t changed much in 100 years. New thinking, new products, new technology… the only way we’re going to adapt to the needs of a new millennium are by doing things differently and better.

Our industry needs new ways of building that save time, and therefore money, new products that save real dollars in energy costs, new construction methods that reduce waste and improve quality.

What should prospective new-home buyers know about National Homes for 2020?

In Bradford, we have 40 detached ravine lot homes from the mid $800’s at The Forest. In east Brampton’s Three Rivers Claireville, we have Phase 2 of our townhomes, right next to the 850- acre Claireville Conservation Area. In Burlington, we’re launching townhomes at Tyandaga Heights on Brant Street, by the Tyandaga Golf Course. And in Courtice, we’re introducing The Vale by National, backing onto woods and a stream.

Why should homebuyers consider buying from your company in 2020?

We design with the needs of our customers in mind. That’s more than a motto, it’s central to the way we work. Our Blueprint Workshops are the spark that drives our design. We learn what people want; what they wish builders could offer; then we create the communities, the homes and the features that satisfy those dreams. And we’re building communities from east to west, so if you’re looking for a National home, we’re where you want to live.

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National Homes is celebrating 25 years of excellence

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National Homes is celebrating 25 years of excellence

For National Homes, it all began 25 years ago with the vision of one man, Rocco Pantalone. A vision to make the dream of homeownership a reality for Ontarians. Inspired by timeless values and nurtured by hard work and dedication, that vision has blossomed into a leader in real estate who continues to make a positive impact in the lives of thousands of families across the GTA.

Founded in 1992, National Homes has today grown into one of the GTA’s most successful homebuilders. With land acquisition and development, commercial, retirement homes, retail and residential projects in its portfolio of accomplishments, National has developed more than 20,000 acres of land, constructed thousands of sq. ft. of retail and commercial developments and has a growing focus on the highrise residential market.

From Ajax to Oakville, from Toronto to Bradford, National has built more than 15,000 homes and won numerous awards for design and marketing. Along the way, the National Homes brand has become one of the most recognized and respected names in the Greater Toronto Area.

But despite its size and awe-inspiring growth, at its heart, National Homes still remains the caring, dedicated company that treats every single home it builds – no matter how big or small – as special. Because National knows that, to the homeowner, it’s the realization of a lifetime of dreams and aspirations.

It’s really all about you

In fact, this is the core philosophy behind the National tagline: ‘You are the blueprint.’ At National Homes, the company starts with you, the new-home buyer, and your needs. Then it design homes to suit the way you do the things you do. National believes that a home should give you what you truly want. It’s more than just about the features, the quality, the service. It’s really all about you.

To be able to respond to and anticipate buyer’s changing needs, National has put innovation at the core of its business. The company’s R&D department (Blueprint Design Lab) regularly tests products, materials and techniques to improve the quality, safety and comfort of our homes. The new Bright Ideas initiative offers advanced tools and gadgets that make homes smarter, more responsive, more energy-efficient and more time-saving.

Also read: Also read: In conversation with Deena Pantalone of National Homes

“Innovation has always been a staple of our corporate foundation,” says Deena Pantalone, managing partner and director of marketing and innovation for National Homes. “I’ve travelled to leading international cities where this type of research is being carried out and worked in incubators, labs and accelerator programs globally. We want to anticipate homeowner problems and provide solutions by thinking ahead. We want to provide futuristic homes that are affordable.”

You are the blueprint

In a world of cookie cutter homes and mass-produced designs, four words separate the insipid from the inspired: ‘You are the blueprint.’ It’s a remarkable company credo, a design philosophy, a worthy goal. Most of all, it’s National’s way of saying that everything starts with, and revolves around, you, the homebuyer.

The needs of the customer are the driving force behind every home the company builds. Because, at National, it isn’t about all the great features it puts in. It isn’t just about the quality or service. National believes that a home should give you what you truly want. It should be designed to suit the way you live

Before National Homes puts pencil to paper and nail to wood, its team asks a lot of questions. Of their customers. Of themselves. And of focus groups. Questions like: Where would you like to live? What is your ideal home? What technology would you want in your home? Then they take the answers and design their homes to address those issues. It is how they walk the walk, and how they put the Blueprint philosophy into action.

In January 2018, National held a Blueprint Workshop that brought together creative design thinkers with dozens of past and potential future National Homes buyers of varied ages and demographics. They gathered in the IBM Innovation Space at Venture Labs in Markham, along with National Homes’ staff, designers, architects, engineers and partner leaders for a thinktank dedicated to new homes.

The workshop’s purpose was to provide in-depth insight into homebuyer’s needs and desires, to further research and development efforts to position National Homes as a builder that values innovation and is responsive to its customers. The day’s agenda delved into the homeowner experience beyond bricks and mortar to feelings and dreams. It explored new technology and time-saving solutions, as well as how to make the homebuying experience unique and personalized.

A National celebration

As National Homes marches towards their next milestone, the respected builder takes a moment to look back at the high points of the company’s eventful journey, and thank all the valued partners, trades, staff, associates and homebuyers who put their faith and trust in National Homes. Everyone is invited to join in the celebration of 25 years, an inspiring springboard for the next 25 years and beyond.


To learn more about National Homes and to register for new and upcoming communities across the GTA, visit the web site.



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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

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In conversation with… Deena Pantalone of National Homes

With a mission that You are the blueprint, National Homes is laser focused on what new-home buyers want, the things they love and how they want to live. Having built more than 5,000 homes across the GTA, with increased focus on the highrise market, National doesn’t just strive to build quality new homes. Just as critical is exceptional customer care, and a market-leading embrace of technology every step of the way.

We spoke with Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation Deena Pantalone to get her insights on just how National connects with today’s discerning homebuyers, and what lies ahead in 2019.

Deena Pantalone

HOMES Magazine: As Director of Marketing & Innovation at National Homes, how has what you do changed over your time in the role?

Deena Pantalone: The largest change has been the evolution of our marketing to digital communications, and smart phones in particular. My role has expanded from Managing Partner and Director of Marketing, to Managing Partner and Director of Marketing & Innovation over the years, as I am constantly looking for innovative ideas to set National apart from everyone else, whether it be in our designs, technology or our customer service. We want to be at the forefront.

We are focused on keeping up to date with state-of-the-art technology and seeing how it can apply to National Homes. Keeping an open eye and mind approach to any new property technology and be willing to explore and implement if it will benefit the homeowners, potential buyers and us.

HM: Technology is an increasingly important part of home building these days – in everything from construction to sales and marketing to what customers expect in home tech. How prevalent is National involved in keeping up with these trends?

DP: Technology is central to everything we do at National. As homes and families get more and more integrated with the new digital revolution, National Homes is in the thick of it all – bringing ever more bright ideas that help our homebuyers stay on top of their lives. More choices. More options. More devices. At the end of the day, it’s about making our homebuyers’ lives easier, smarter and richer.

We do market research and workshops to determine what our buyers would like to have in their ideal homes and how they would feel if we implemented certain things, because it goes back to our core values – You are the blueprint.

We hold cutting-edge events such as our Blueprint Workshop at the IBM Innovation Space, which brought together 70 participants in discussions, presentations and interviews, learning about innovative products from building and design professionals and sharing their thoughts in a thinktank format. This way, our customers have a direct input into ideas that are reflected in our home designs. Because our philosophy has always been that, as a customer, you are the Blueprint.

We’ve brought virtual reality into our sales offices so buyers can walk around and explore their future homes, and we’re constantly looking for ways to be energy efficient and more sustainable.



National Homes Focus Group
Pantalone leading a customer focus group discussion

HM: And in the next five to 10 years, what will be the biggest change or opportunity in these areas?

DP: Property Technology is expanding at an exponential rate. That means your home will be smarter tomorrow than it is today. We will be seeing more of smart buildings, cities and communities, driverless vehicles which will affect the way that homes are designed.

Right now, smart home technology is just in its infancy, so in five to 10 years, everything will be connected not only in our homes, but our construction processes and development work.

HM: How important is social media at National Homes, in terms of connecting and communicating with customers – particularly Millennials, who have grown up in the digital age?

DP: Digital communications are key to everything we do today. Prior to a sale, it starts with social media on platforms such as Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, Houzz and Facebook. We search out the latest innovations in architecture, design, technology from around the world and share them with our community. And, of course, we also speak to our followers about upcoming neighbourhoods and other news.

HM: National is building in a variety of communities in and around the GTA. Where do you see the next hot market – in terms of either geography or product type?

DP: There’s no question that affordability has become the biggest issue in the GTA housing market, and land prices are right at the heart of the matter. Everything starts with the needs of our customers, and if price is even more of an issue today, then we have a responsibility to find answers.

This is why we are bringing on new communities in Brampton, Courtice and Burlington, where lower land prices can make homes more affordable. And we are expanding our product design mix to include midrise condominiums that give people better prices.

National Homes Forest Phase 2
Forest Phase 2 Model Home

HM: What can your customers expect from a National home?

DP: Our customers can expect a home that is designed with their needs in mind. We put an enormous amount of effort into research, workshops, focus groups and questionnaires.

Our customers can expect exceptional customer service. Our Customer Care program has been designed to make the entire home purchasing experience a positive one. Some of the highlights include a New Home Workshop and seminar to prepare you for the homebuying process, the National Care Kit, a wealth of information on how to care for the finishes inside your home, innovative framing walk-throughs, detailed customer surveys and a homeowners’ portal communication hub where they will find everything they need to know about their home.

HM: Please finish the following statement. For National Homes, 2018 was a year of:

DP: Innovation. From the home designs we have been developing for our new communities, to the products and technology we are incorporating into our homes, this year we have been pushing the boundaries behind the scenes to ready ourselves for the launch of our next communities.

HM: And 2019 will be a year of:

DP: Introduction and implementation. In the new communities we introduce this year, all the research and development we have been working on behind the scenes will start to be available to our new buyers. And that makes this coming year a very exciting time for us.


  • THE FOREST, detached homes, Bradford, Final phase coming soon
  • STATION TOWN, townhomes, Markham, In registration
  • THREE RIVERS CLAIREVILLE, townhomes, Claireville, In registration
  • COURTICE, townhomes, In registration
  • BURLINGTON, townhomes and condos, In registration
  • BRAMPTON, townhomes, In registration



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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

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Cover Story: Editor’s Choice: National Homes

Blueprint Workshop revolutionizes new home consumer research

As its slogan “You are the Blueprint” attests, National Homes takes homebuyer feedback seriously when planning its homes and communities.

Always an industry innovator, the company has now revolutionized the concept of traditional focus groups and consumer research with the National Homes Blueprint Workshop, a ground-breaking event that explored how homeowners feel about their homes, how they live in them, and what type of design, features and technology they believe will improve their lives.

The January Blueprint Workshop brought together creative design thinkers with dozens of past and potential future National Homes buyers of varied ages and demographics. They gathered in the IBM Innovation Space at Venture Labs in Markham, along with National Homes staff, designers, architects, engineers and partner leaders for a THINKTANK dedicated to new homes. Students from York University’s Schulich School of Business real estate master’s program also participated.

They broke into four small groups with partner leaders to engage in discussions, presentations and interviews. IBM helped to design and facilitate the workshop.

When IBM’s expertise in human-centred design indicates that the conversation is less about features and functions, and more about users and outcomes, businesses are more successful. It’s about understanding what matters to clients, how they see the world and getting to know them.

“With a typical focus group, people are sitting behind a screen or mirror with a facilitator and it’s structured,” says Deena Pantalone, director of marketing innovation and managing partner for National Homes. “This was more relaxed and comfortable. Rather than asking things such as, ‘Which interior finish do you like,’ we discussed generally how it feels to live in a house.”

The workshop’s purpose was to provide in-depth insight into homebuyers’ needs and desires, to further research and development efforts to position National Homes as a builder that values innovation and is responsive to its customers.

The day delved into the homeowner experience beyond bricks and mortar, explored new technology and time-saving solutions, as well as how to make the homebuying experience unique. It explored the idea of community, looking not just solely at homeowners’ needs, but what their parents and children might need as well.

Participants were selected based on responses to a survey sent to registrants from National Homes’ communities, along with current homeowners.

Partner leaders included Karl Vredenburg, Director IBM Design Worldwide Client Programs and head of IBM Studios Canada; Professor James McKellar, Associate Dean External Relations and Director of the Brookfield Centre in Real Estate and Infrastructure at the Schulich School of Business; Raphael Wong and Matt Lennan of ThoughtWire, a leading Canadian digital intelligence company; Jenna Zaza of The Interactive Abode, a technology company that allows purchasers to virtually decorate their new homes and make finishing selections online; Jason Disher, Logan Stewart, Tyler Balding and Yonnas Tecle of Panasonic, a company that makes state-of-theart home products; and Bob Storey, Andreas C. Leuth and Greg Jefferies of Sto Canada Ltd., a leader in high-performance building cladding options.

“Innovation has always been a staple of our corporate foundation,” says Pantalone. “I’ve travelled to leading international cities where this type of research is being carried out. We want to anticipate homeowner problems and provide solutions by thinking ahead. We want to provide futuristic homes that are affordable.”

Workshop participants got a glimpse into some of the future possibilities. For example, ThoughtWire has changed the way people act with their built environment with its software. It has played a transformative role in digitizing healthcare facilities, speeding up workflow and improving patient experience with automation and real-time interactions between medical staff, systems and devices. For instance, patients can control the temperature in their rooms, medical personnel get real-time patient information on their devices and elevators can be programmed so food carts delivering patient meals won’t be delayed. Some of this technology can be adapted for residential use.

Panasonic might be best known for home entertainment products in Canada, but the company has a comprehensive lineup of home-related products and builds entire new home communities in Japan. Participants learned about the Shimau Principle – the art of space and harmony where everything is in its rightful place. Panasonic offers comprehensive storage and organization solutions. Developed in Japan, where people live in smaller spaces, the solutions are a great fit for condos — or any home — as many homeowners do not utilize space to its best advantage.

Attendees got to see, touch and feel EcoShapes from Sto Canada, a product that has been used in Europe for more than 30 years but is new to Canada. It reduces energy costs, provides a higher R-value and reduces the home’s carbon footprint. Sto’s forward-thinking products contribute to creating a superior energy-efficient home.

Zaza, founder of The Interactive Abode, explained how pop culture, online sites and TV shows inspired development of her interactive software that allows purchasers the time to research and make decisions about their new home selections from the comfort of their own homes. It uses photo-realistic renderings to take the guesswork out of decisions between standard or upgrade options and allows buyers to visualize how colour selections and finishes will look in their new residence. Zaza says in the last five years, sales centres have incorporated software that helps with homebuying, but the process was lacking in the design studio. Zaza brought four laptops for workshop participants to try the online design studio for themselves.

Pantalone is excited about the possibilities the Blueprint Workshop offered and sees this as the springboard for more collaborative sessions with homeowners and other partners to transform the builder-buyer relationship.

“Our slogan, ‘You Are the Blueprint,’ means something to us as a company,” she said. “This will allow us to take our relationship with our purchasers to a whole new level and create a more meaningful buying and living experience for them.”

National Homes looks forward to offering some of their latest “bright ideas” at upcoming new home communities in 2018 and 2019 including Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.

National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.
National Homes returns to Bradford with Phase 2 of The Forest, featuring elegant homes and stunning architecture.


Visit National Homes online for more information and to register for previews before the public openings in communities in Markham, Bradford, Brampton, Courtice and Burlington.



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Video: National Home’s Blueprint Workshop

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Video: National Home’s Blueprint Workshop

National Homes Marketing Director Deena Pantalone and their Ad Agency Creative Director Geoff McOuat discuss the success of the Jan 19th Blueprint Workshop.


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