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With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic hitting all industries, including the real estate market, home builders and their sales executives are feeling the chaotic ripple effect of social distancing and contactless relationships. Fortunately, at the same time, maturing technologies are becoming ripe for addressing the challenges caused by the crisis—and may well become the new norm.
According to an April 2020 webinar hosted by Builder-MetroStudy and presented by Meyers Research, entitled COVID-19 Weekly Update, in order for home builders to remain navigate new market waters, digital experiences will replace in-person experiences:
“For home builders, the virtual element is unescapable now. It used to be pretty cool, and everybody was moving towards it. Now, it is irrefutable and absolutely required,” explained Tim Sullivan, Senior Managing Principal at Meyers Research. As Sullivan points out, in the current and post-pandemic world, home buyers are bound to say: “Show me the product! Virtual model homes—let me walk through it—and see it in a 3D environment! And then interactive floor plans and site plans from my Mobile, from my phone…I can do all of this!” 1
“Show me” is the new word on the street. Virtual showings, virtual open houses, and virtual selecting and customizing different homes are becoming musts. It is time to leverage technology and focus on the online stages of the home buying experience more than ever.
There are three steps home builders should adopt to seize the sales opportunities online and virtual technologies can offer when attracting, retaining and winning over home buyers. Let’s take a look at each one more closely.
The first step is to better compete with resales for home buyers’ attention. How? By upping their game with respect to their Zillow listings. Did you ever notice how your listings look like following a Zillow map search? Are your displayed listings outdated—or even worse, showing up on unappealing, empty fields?
Zillow’s Inline Community Preview (ICP) is a feature available in Zillow’s Promoted Communities, making home discovery and exploration simple. Home buyers browsing on Zillow see a visually rich preview of all new construction lots and future home sites in builders’ communities. Developed in collaboration with Alpha Vision, a Zillow Group Advantage Program partner, ICP-enabled communities stand out with a graphic overlay of the fully developed community that grabs home buyers’ attention on the map view. Alpha Vision builds the community preview with site maps provided directly from the home builder. Once the map completed by Alpha Vision, an actual layer on top of existing maps to offer home buyers a better visual experience.
The results are in the numbers. According to the Zillow Group, in early trials, Promoted Communities with the ICP had:
2.4x more pageviews from the search map on Zillow.com
20% more pageviews on Zillow.com
13% more pageviews overall across Zillow-owned sites and apps
Social distancing has created a shift in home buyer’s journey towards falling in love with a home—and committing to a purchase. This process of falling in love is vacillating towards online discoverability, which can no longer be a mere teaser. Builders need to beef up their website content and features—or be left behind in the competition’s dust.
With many sales associates forced to work remotely, new engagement techniques and bonding skills are required. Model viewings are more complex than ever before; often by appointment only, they are no longer the ultimate ”romantic moments.” Instead, on-site visits are becoming more of a confirmation of buyers’ decisions, rather than the point of commitment for their purchases.
As the home buying process continues to change, with fewer open houses and on-site visits, more and more sales will be conducted remotely. That is why it is vital to equip your sales associates with a digital sales center to nevertheless offer a personalized customer experience—and maximize the likelihood of sealing the deal. Often called the Digital Sales Assistant by our hundreds of sales associate users, AlphaCenter is a proven sales center technology platform that is focused on the engagement and relationship between sales associates and home buyers.
Novel times generate new opportunities. The market is ripe for a transformation in home buying and selling logistics. As consumer behavior changes, home builders can tap into the tremendous potential virtual technologies can offer to personalize the sales process, accelerate sales as well as access a wealth of analytics to fine-tune your development and sales strategies even more!
Looking to take advantage of the home buying changing market? Contact Alpha Vision today!
1 Transcript from MetroStudy Covid-19 weekly update, April 1, 2020