In early May, John Burns Real Estate Consulting projected the Great American Move as a result of COVID-19. According to their latest assessment, that surge in household relocations is now underway. As families work from home, many are finding their current space is not ideal if employers continue the shift to remote offices. Many families are looking for new opportunities and new careers. Some are moving for life change improvements and personal comfort. All will need new homes to rent or buy and this brings a plethora of opportunities for new home builders.
A few things we learned while stay at home orders were in place:
- Americans are not great at following stay at home orders for an extended period!
- We love to shop from home – already knew this, but COVID certainly confirmed.
- Homebuyers continue their search even when they can’t be out touring models.
Following an initial drop in traffic, the homebuyer engagement experts at Outhouse, LLC saw a steady increase in traffic across the board for all builders utilizing their Interactive Floor Plans. Blue Tangerine also saw a traffic dip in March followed by a steady increase in traffic and higher year over year growth for their home builder clients into the month of May.
With home buyers conducting much of their new home search and purchase activity online, we were expecting to see a significant move by home builders to upgrade virtual sales platforms as well. But it appears many builders have not been as quick as buyers to embrace online sales. Do You Convert’s 2020 Homebuilder Follow-Up Survey showed moderate adjustments in the ways builders are conducting business online, but not to the extent they were expecting?
What this means for you
There is a huge opportunity for builders to sell homes even when model home traffic is down. With many people still minimizing time outside the house, this trend will continue for the foreseeable future. As younger generations come into the market, your online presence is even more critical as these are the buyers who grew up with interactive gaming platforms, YouTube, and Amazon. They will be even more comfortable, and eager to shop for homes online.
To ensure you are prepared for the increase in online sales there are several steps builders can take:
- Have an awe-inspiring, engaging website.
- Include powerful sales tools like Interactive Floor Plans, Interactive Site Plans, Photoreal Renderings, virtual tours and animations. These tools engage and build emotional connections with home buyers while they are on their quest to find the perfect home.
- Have a dedicated Online Sales Specialist(s).
- Have a strong automated CRM like Lasso CRM or TopBuilder to nurture online sales leads.
- Make sure your online sales tools are integrated. Outhouse’s Interactive Floor Plans work with many CRM platforms to automatically deliver leads to your inbox. The latest Interactive Site Plans give buyers a complete picture of lots and available homes with rendering pop-outs and links to the Interactive Floor Plans available for each lot.
In summary, much of the new home sales process will continue to gravitate online. Buying a home virtually makes it easy for people staying at home, or families moving out of state. It is critical for builders to make the investment now, to engage online shoppers, and capture those leads.
About our Guest Blogger:
Jim Sorgatz is VP of Marketing at Outhouse, LLC, a builder services firm revolutionizing the integration of drafting, rendering, animation, virtual tours, interactive platforms, graphic design, print, and display for the home building industry. Outhouse’s integrated services and processes enable clients to visualize, build, and sell their homes with greater speed and accuracy, saving them time and money. Former VP of Member Services with 20+ years at the Home Builders Association of Central Arizona, Jim works with builders to move the industry forward in a meaningful, impactful way.