Digital Habits Are Changing How People Buy Homes

Avid Ratings used the TecHome Builder Summit to explain how builders can use tech to improve the buying experience for customers.

As much of the country has embraced the digital age, in many ways, the homebuilding industry is lagging. Homebuyers are spending more time on their mobile devices and using them as research tools, but builders often are continuing to sell and market their homes in the same traditional ways.

At the 2017 TecHome Builder Summit, Avid Ratings demonstrated the need for builders to provide their customers a digital and interactive experience.

“Consumers want to be able to access information at their fingertips and make these decisions by using their phones as research tools,” says Avid Ratings director of marketing and communications Jessica Leising. “When it comes to the building industry, consumers are continually moving in that direction even though it’s outside the traditional shopping mentality. I think it goes to creating that excitement and that engagement without necessarily having to walk into a model home.”

“In the homebuilding industry, we think we need to sell the customer when they don’t want to be sold to, especially your Millennial buyer,” adds Avid Ratings founder Paul Cardis. “They’re very sensitive to this. They want to discover.”

Cardis explains that customers are buying homes radically differently than they used to. While price, location and aesthetics still are major factors, a fourth now is emerging – customer reviews. He asks, if Millennials wouldn’t buy a pizza without knowing its star rating, why would they change their mindset for a home?

“Authenticity is king when we look at the market today,” he says. “Buyers want to be able to buy homes the way they buy everything else and live how they’re living in the digital world. And as builders, we need to find a way to get there.”

So, that’s what the company is trying to do with its Avid CX platform.

GoTour is one of three products within that portfolio, and was highlighted for guests at the TecHome Builder Summit. It allows buyers to visualize their new home through virtual reality, 3D imaging and a tagging feature, with which clients can deliver their products to consumers with a simple scan of a printed tag in a model home, brochure or magazine using their mobile device. And, new for 2018, is product-level SKU data, which can identify customer ratings for each product.

Such an offering gives buyers the ability to exercise their imagination for their new home. And, Avid’s innovative GoTour technology earned the TecHome Brilliance Award for Virtual Reality/3D Imaging at the 2017 Summit.

Also incorporated within the Avid CX platform is GoSurvey, which collects and stores vital, actionable data from customer experiences and reviews. And, GoSocial pushes trustworthy reviews to social media and trusted consumer review sites. Together, the three tools work to improve customer engagement and promote homebuilder products and services.

“I think builders are definitely ready to engage digital products that can help lure in consumers,” Leising explains. “The digital future is here and builders are ready to embrace it.

They’re excited to be working with partners like Avid that are at the forefront of some of this technology.”

While Avid Ratings’ digital options represent a significant step forward for homebuilders, it may not be long before they can take a giant leap. Also at the TecHome Builder Summit, Cardis debuted his first ever augmented reality home. In a matter of seconds, he “built” a home in a ballroom at the Phoenix Convention Center.

Though this technology is still in development, Cardis explains that it is the future. Customers will be able to use that to see their home on a piece of dirt and physically walk the exterior and interior of that home, as well as visualize the options that a builder offers, right on the customer’s mobile device. That could be a true game-changer in selling homes.

Until that future does arrive, though, builders can better understand customers’ present digital habits to keep them from living in the past.