ONLINE HOME PURCHASES ARE CLOSER THAN YOU THINK…

Homebuilding is ripe for disruption. Some experts predict it will first occur in the supply chain. Others focus on new technologies to expand the desirability of factory-built homes. One area that is already overdue for a digital transformation is the process of purchasing a new home. While few customers say they are ready to handle the entire transaction on their own, the industry appears ripe for portions of the purchase process to be handled online.

The ability to reserve a home or homesite online using their credit card for a deposit is both simple to execute and high on buyers’ preferences as an online feature. 46% of all customers surveyed want this option, while 71% of millennials preferred the online reservation approach. Customer feedback tends to bifurcate into (1) the 24/7 convenience of securing a specific home & homesite and (2) transparency of total pricing – customers want to shop total prices online (not just the base prices) including options and upgrades between builders/communities.

According to Greg Bray of Blue Tangerine Solutions, “Technology is the easy part of the process. With electronic document signatures, e-commerce payment systems and secure forms of transmission, we can handle the entire process today.”

The human obstacles appear to be both customer- and builder-driven. From the builder’s point of view, an online buying process requires having total faith in the validity and depth of current data on your website. An online purchase option requires that web data is accurate and available for lot inventories, floorplan lot fit matrices, addition or deletion of inventory as homes sell or come back via cancellations, as well as comprehensive pricing of upgrades and options.

“This requires a level of database depth, accuracy, and vigilance that many builders agree with in principle — but are uneasy about rolling out to the public,” says Bray. Customers (especially young customers) tend to like building/pricing the home of their dreams and comparing the “out-the-door” price with competitors. But even with the best technologies, our research shows that customers tend to get lost or frustrated at points in an online purchase process and want to have access to a knowledgeable builder’s agent.

It’s unlikely that buyers in 2018 are ready for a totally online home purchase process. Some documents are difficult to understand and even sophisticated purchasers will often want further explanation to grasp their purpose. In addition, fees such as bonds financing infrastructure improvement fees (CDD MUDD, etc.) as well as HOA obligations can vary by lot size and portions of even the same subdivision, making them problematic to program en masse.

As with any innovation, the best builders will focus on the opportunities rather dwelling on the limitations. Ultimately, the tipping point for the industry will occur when builders understand they are missing sales that a competitor gained simply by offering the ability to start the home purchase process via their website.

RYMER’S RULES

  • Embrace First Steps Now – 46% of new home prospects say they want the option to reserve a home / homesite online with a credit card as their deposit.
  • Millennials Strongly Prefer Online Purchases – The younger your buyer, the more likely they are to embrace online vs. sales agent for doing business.
  • The Technology Is Ready Today – The human element is the obstacle, not technology.
By |2018-05-08T22:03:06+00:00May 8th, 2018|News|