Homebuilders are deploying virtual-oriented game plans to combat COVID-19
By Mike Forsum
The arrival of spring usually means the planting of gardens, goodbye to winter clothes, and the start of the home buying season. This spring, however, everything is different. The spread of the COVID-19 pandemic has changed our way of life across the globe.
Because stay-at-home orders have been issued for hundreds of cities across the country, homebuilders and home developers have had to adapt. While the homebuilding industry has been deemed an “essential business” to remain open during this pandemic, and home construction activity and sites are still permitted to continue, sales tactics have had to shift, with the implementation of creative and innovative solutions. With this shift comes the added responsibility of making sure that our top priority remains the well being and safety of the people who live, work for, and are interested in our communities.
At Landsea Homes, technology has been an inherent part of our culture – both in our homes, and in our business approach. We’ve been able to elevate and deploy that technology quickly and at an even higher level to benefit new homebuyers. While many companies have cancelled open houses and tours, and others are relying on online pictures and galleries, we are providing virtual home tour solutions that are quickly becoming the new normal.
Buying a home is one of the biggest and most important purchases of a person’s life. Think about the current state of affairs across the country. Where are people being asked to stay and to remain while we work to put an end to this pandemic? In their homes. As homebuilders, it is imperative that we’re able to provide an opportunity where prospects can experience an accurate and real-life essence of what life in their new home will be like.
Take Landsea Homes’ community Catalina in Santa Clara, Calif., for example. Potential homebuyers interested in touring one of the model homes, can simply visit our website and interact through the Matterport3D technology, which allows for 360-degree home tours and interactive area maps and floor plan maps. Prospects can also request a micro video of the community by contacting us. It truly provides a “you are there” approach for the homebuyer, and best of all, everything they experience is as it will be in their new home.
We have also added community videos to our Atlas text program. With just a quick text message, prospects have an opportunity to schedule a virtual appointment with a sales agent that allows for a preview of the community, floor plans, and overall lifestyle. The agent walks the prospect through the house virtually, focusing on the features of the home that are important to their specific lifestyle.
Other homebuilders are adapting with the use of innovative solutions as well. Homebuilders KB Home and D.R. Horton, who have also been guest builders within several Landsea Homes master planned communities, have integrated similar digital solutions, allowing the flexibility of scheduling a virtual visit with their sales counselors.
Virtual home tours will not be ending anytime soon. In fact, I believe we are experiencing a fundamental shift in the homebuying process that will continue long after we have successfully navigated these unprecedented times. Virtual home tours are providing clients with a convenient and accessible way to enjoy detailed and accurate visions of their potential new home – all from the comfort and convenience of their current living situation.
So, how will all of this affect home sales in the coming months and for the remainder of the year?
It’s hard for anyone to provide a clear answer to this question, but there are some positive clues. What we do know is that while traffic has certainly slowed with the stay-inplace orders, the percentage and quality of the traffic is more qualified than ever, which will help to keep sales volume up. Relative to traffic, sales haven’t slowed down as much as people may be hearing.
People realize that a home is an investment. Combined with historically low mortgage interest rates and available inventory, many are recognizing that now is a great time to buy.
One of our recent homebuyers noted why they bought their first home during this particular time: “We realize right now is a great time to buy with interest rates so low, and when you find your dream home, you do everything in your power to make it work.”
And that really is what and why we are all doing this, isn’t it? To provide dream homes to people who are looking to improve the way they live.
All of us at Landsea Homes look forward to joining our fellow homebuilders and community in continuing to do exactly that, as we all navigate through these uncertain times.
Mike Forsum is the Chief Operating Officer of Landsea Homes