Published on June 23, 2020
E-commerce is rapidly progressing as the world navigates COVID-19. A recent article in Forbes magazine citing statistics from a report published by Adobe shows online spending in May hit $82.5 billion, up 77% year-over-year. According to Adobe, it would have taken between 4 and 6 years to get to the levels that we saw in May if the growth continued at the same levels it was at for the past few years.
Also propelling e-commerce in the home building industry is the Great American Move projected by John Burns Real Estate Consulting in early May. That mass migration spurred by COVID-19 is now underway. Families are moving for various reasons – some for more room or better arranged space to work from home, new opportunities, new careers, life change improvements and personal comfort. With home buyers already accustomed to starting their search for a new home online, the advent of social distancing measures solidified the trend toward virtual home purchases – at least for a significant portion of the process.
Analytics from the home buyer engagement experts at Outhouse, LLC. demonstrate the importance of robust online marketing platforms, Following an initial drop in traffic when the country began Staying at Home, they saw a steady increase in traffic across the board for builders utilizing their Interactive Floor Plans.
With home buyers conducting much of their new home search and purchase activity virtually, online sales and marketing professionals were expecting to see a significant move by home builders to upgrade online lead generation tools. But it appears many builders have not been as quick as buyers to embrace virtual sales. Do You Convert’s 2020 Homebuilder Follow-Up Surveyshowed moderate adjustments in the ways builders are conducting business online, but not to the extent they were anticipating.
What this means for you.
Builders and developers need to expedite website upgrades if they want to be competitive in a changing world. There is a huge opportunity for builders to sell homes even when buyers are staying at home or 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 and developers can take:
Top Online Sales Tools
For master-planned communities, one of the top online sales tools is an Interactive Site Plan which can be built in phases for staggered openings or to separate individual builders. Outhouse’s newest 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.
Interactive Floor Plans with a furniture planner, options selector, and dynamic pricing are key to engaging home buyers. Outhouse’s work with many CRM platforms to automatically deliver leads to your inbox.
Other online sales and marketing tools include Photoreal renderings, Matterport tours, virtual tours, animations, and sophisticated chatbots like the one from AtlasRTX which is designed specifically for home builders
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.
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.