Why Builders Hide Their Models

By Paul Cardis, Founder/CEO, Avid Ratings
Recently, I asked my team to randomly survey builders’ websites to determine how many clicks it takes to access a home tour – the results were stunning! It takes an average of five clicks to view a home once you land on a builder’s website. This finding is even more stunning given that Google and the National Association of Realtors (NAR) found that 92 percent of all homebuyers are now using the Internet to search for a home-a staggering number that highlights how the buying process has changed over the years. In fact, buyers today are using the Internet more often than a traditional real estate agent to begin their home search process. So why do we make it so difficult for homebuyers to view a home? Your guess is as good as mine, but as the old saying goes, “the buyer is always right,” and if they want to independently explore homes and options, I say let them.
Here are some more revealing stats that show why hosting your models on your front page is a HUGE opportunity to increase home sales:

  • According to the 2014 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 42 percent of homebuyers indicated that the Internet was the first step taken to begin their home search. 92 percent used the Internet at some point during the search process.
  • Only two percent of respondents in the same NAR study indicated that they contacted a builder or visited a builder’s models as the first in the home search process. (Unfortunately, a vast number of builders still force customers to physically visit their models to learn more about them.)
  • Of those customers who began their search online, a whopping 63 percent of homebuyers walked through a home they found online.
  • When homebuyers were asked their main reasons for buying a home, 25 percent indicated it was the ability to choose and customize design features.(Again most builders avoid sharing options until a purchase and sales agreement is received, while many more homebuyers would be excited to see options sooner)
  • According to Coremetrics Web Analytics, there is a 35 percent increase in the sales conversion rate among shoppers who viewed online video tours versus those who did not. Also, shoppers viewing the product tours online spent more than 2.5 minutes, on average, engaged in viewing detailed product information about each product viewed.
  • Lastly, the auto industry averages two clicks to access car pictures and three clicks to begin building the car online.

The lessons learned are:

  1. Virtualize your homes online.
  2. Keep it real, buyers want realistic pictures and moreover video of your models. Avoid computer-generated imagery (unless it is photo realistic) since it feels like a video game.
  3. Don’t hide your homes behind layers of pages in your website, instead, bring the homes close to, if not directly on your front page. Provide a “Tour Homes” button throughout your site, so buyers can quickly access your homes easily.
  4. Present options early on in the process. Buyers don’t want to be led, they want to self-serve, and builders who allow it will win.

Thoughts? Email them to me at paul.cardis@avidratings.com

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