The Villas at Seven Desert Mountain by Camelot Homes is a collection of contemporary homes featuring soaring great rooms and seamless indoor-outdoor living. Eric Kruk

It was as good a house as any to test out the market after the pandemic hit. Custom-built with insane views of Seattle and an easy drive into downtown Bellevue, but just far enough out to keep the urbanity at arm’s length. In every other way the house was like others JayMarc Homes was selling before 2020 happened: high end, high quality, and high ticket, with a location that hyped being both “in it” and “away from it all” at the same time. So in July, with the housing market rebounding out of a pandemic-induced pause, JayMarc listed the property with fingers crossed. The house sold that day for $4.8 million.

JayMarc CEO Marc Rousso credits lessons learned in the 2007 subprime mortgage crisis to his company’s navigation through the COVID-19 pandemic: Stay nimble, remain committed to operational excellence, and keep a lot of cash on hand. “We want to stay in a range of 20 to 30 homes a year so when cycles ebb and flow, we are never too exposed,” Rousso says. “We’ve found that if we stay at our pace, we avoid being positioned to lose everything.”

Pivoting to a virtual marketing campaign in the spring that offered custom home classes and seminars via Zoom didn’t hurt, either. “We ended up getting 20 or 30 people a week, and now we have just as many qualified leads who want to build a custom home with us,” Rousso notes. “It was the best interest in the worst of times, and in July the floodgates opened. We sold nine houses in 90 days to hit our goals for the year and gained 20 new clients in the process.”

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