The new home buying process has always been more “involved” than buying a used home, and with good reason. There are more steps to secure a loan, homebuyers often maintain an existing home while their new one is being built, and of course, there’s the actual building process.
Whenever a process is complex or nuanced, there will always be a degree of uncertainty or hesitancy from the people it impacts. So it wasn’t too much of a surprise when Zillow reported that, in 2019, 28% of new construction home buyers were “uncertain or overwhelmed about the process to build or buy new construction.” What is alarming, however, is that the number jumped to 35% in 2020. Why? What changed?
So. Many. Things. Starting in early 2020, home shoppers began a mad dash to buy new homes. This put strain on home builders to keep up with demand. Both human and material resources were stretched thin (OSCs remember these days well). Then came the pricing issues with lumber and other materials. Costs jumped for builders and consumers. But people still needed homes and were ready to pay what the market demanded… and they still are. But the question is — how well did builders communicate these market changes to their buyers, and what new processes did they put into place to manage expectations while still providing stellar customer service? Some builders still struggle with these questions. We’ve got some suggestions to help.
Though email marketing may seem like a basic communication technique — it still works! According to Constant Contact, 61% of consumers enjoy receiving weekly promotional emails. People still open and read email, particularly from brands they trust, and email is often the fastest, most direct way to reach consumers.
This is a real opportunity for builders to segment their databases and send timely and relevant information — on a regular basis — to both buyers and prospects. For buyers, develop a series of emails for points along the building process and provide answers to commonly asked questions. Send the emails on an automation schedule that starts when the contract is signed. If there are changes or delays in the process, make sure the project manager communicates that to the new home specialist, so she can discuss with the buyers.
Your prospects can be segmented even further depending on what stage of the funnel they’re in — for example, responsive and unresponsive, or by community of interest. Send regular updates on sales models, amenities, or changes in construction timelines. Anticipate questions by being proactive and personal!
2) Get Creative
There’s no clearer way to communicate your message than with creative content. If you have a process, or even a part of a process, that buyers often have questions about, create a piece of visual content – like an infographic or explainer video – that’s fun to look at and easy to understand. Post this on your blog and social media accounts, and use it as a basis of one of your automated process emails.
Below is an example of an explainer video that we created with Stone Martin Builders to help their buyers understand how the production team is structured. In a clear and succinct way, this video helps answer the question of who manages the details of their home construction. Think about frequently asked questions from your own prospects and the best format to present the answers.
3) Be a Resource
Today’s consumers, particularly Millennials (who make up the largest share of homebuyers), want to feel that the company they’re spending money with is a partner on their life journey. Show your prospects you care by being a trusted voice in the building industry. Lead with transparency and over-communicate your processes and offerings. Create resources that live on your website, ungated, that address the pain points your prospective buyers have. What don’t they understand? Where are they getting stuck? When do they come to you in frustration? Those are all great sources of blog posts, pdfs, videos, image galleries, interactive web content, and more.
As we’ve seen with the Zillow statistic of 35% of new construction buyers being unsure of the building process, the path to ownership is a perfect area to address. Every builder should have this content as a page on their website, and every serious prospect should receive this information in some format. A downloadable PDF, like the one below that we created with Stone Martin Builders, is a great option because it can be used on your website, in email, and printed and added to your sales folder.
4) Put Info Front and Center
One underused area of your marketing to easily communicate with potential buyers is the community pages of your website! Whenever there are changes, delays, or updates to a community’s progress, create an eye-catching banner that gives the latest information. These could be messages like “On Hold” or “Coming Soon.” Another idea is to include a message that says “Click here for the latest updates on XYZ Community,” and have that link go to a page that is constantly updated with detailed community information.
In 2021, let’s all make it our mission to communicate clearly, be a better partner, and be a trusted resource to our prospects. It will take some planning and time, but as an industry, we can boost consumer confidence in the new home building process and change that Zillow statistic for the better. Need help with your messaging during these unique times? Contact us to let Group Two’s new home marketing specialists help communicate with your buyers!