Majority of homebuyers today focus primarily on online resources when researching homes
BY LISA MEYLOR
Emotional aspects of the home shopping journey have stayed the same throughout the years. We all want to find a place to create memories and have a sense of belonging. What has changed, however, is the way we shop for homes. Technology has enriched the home shopping experience and forever changed buyer’s expectations about their journey.
According to the NAR Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends Report 2017, 89 percent of Boomers and 99 percent of Millennials search online. In other words, every generation of buyer expects some sort of digital engagement, and builders need to provide tools to meet those consumer expectations. Buyers today are already well into their home shopping journey by the time they step into your sales office. Their onsite experience should be a natural continuation of that journey.
Are you maximizing your sales office potential? Here are three ways you can create more memorable experiences using technology.
Give Buyers Opportunities to Engage
Home shoppers want to fall in love with what you’re offering and visit the sales office to reaffirm that they like in person what they saw online. Customer engagement is key, as the more engaged a customer is, the more likely they are to develop an emotional connection. Technology offers multiple tools for engagement during buyers’ sales office visit.
In a 2016 Bokka Group study, more than half of new home buyers considered social media most important in the research phase. Today, you can leverage social media directly into the sales office experience. Digital social media signage, which comes in numerous sizes and configurations, combines curated, #hashtag-driven consumer images with traditional marketing photos and copy to create an engaging and dynamic visual experience.
Many home shoppers use a (touch-based) smartphone or tablet when searching online, so touchscreen technology in the sales office provides a familiar continuation. From a psychological standpoint, touch is one of the best ways to get consumers engaged with a product. That’s why agents, for example, encourage home shoppers to feel finishes in the models. Touch-based presentations engage home shoppers with details about the community from home plans and amenities to the local area.
Tap into Your Buyer’s Emotion Through Storytelling
From adding another bedroom to a yard for the dog Spot, home shoppers want to build a new life story. Storytelling creates a vicarious narrative experience and goes beyond logic to tap into the emotional side of the home buyer journey. Include this important component in technology platforms, from websites and social media to sales office touchscreen presentations and social media digital walls.
Visuals can be more powerful than words in evoking emotions. Go beyond just text and use imagery to portray a relatable life story. Images to consider are new neighbors enjoying community events, families in the local park, and livable interiors. But don’t stop there. Incorporate images into interactive location maps and amenity spotlights. Use photos alongside text to portray the local elementary school, art gallery, dog park, or community pool.
Well trained sales counselors will always attempt to learn their home shopper’s story, but your story is also important to buyers. To build trust, relay the company’s story, including history, charitable giving, and community involvement. And, when there’s an interesting history about the land or unique aspects of its development, that’s also an important story to tell.
Personalize Your Buyer’s Experience
According to the 2014 NAR Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers, 25 percent indicated their main reason for buying a new home was the ability to choose and customize design features. Technology provides personalized experiences unique to each home shopper.
Interactive floorplans, online or at the sales office, encourage home shoppers to dream and create a plan that fits their lifestyle. They’ll see the base plan change as they touch to select and “try-on” structural options. Add virtual furniture so they can further personalize and visualize living in the space. Give your home shoppers the ability to print, email, and save customized floorplans so they can revisit them after they leave the sales office.
Builders also go beyond floorplans and incorporate virtual design studios that help home shoppers envision the interior living space. This virtual experience encourages personalization with various finishes such as cabinetry, flooring, and countertops. Buyers who use this technology in your sales office are better prepared and save time during the design studio appointment.
Sales office technology is more than a passing trend. Builders who leverage technology to provide an enriched home shopping experience will stand out amongst the competition.
Lisa Meylor is the Marketing Manager for Computer Presentation Systems, a software development company that has provided solutions to new home builders for over 30 years. She may be reached at cpsusa.com.