Realtors May Hold Key to Home Builder’s Virtual Tours Success

Written by Posted On Friday, 15 May 2020 05:00

If  you ever visited a  new home model, you have experienced the WOW factor. The WOW factors that model merchandisers are paid big fees to create. 

Unfortunately, that option is no longer available to those who prefer virtual tours at their convenience or virtual guided tours by appointment. Virtual tours cannot generate a WOW factor, leaving the model comparisons to square foot and price comparisons and the shoppers imagination. 

Orlando Realtor Pat Taylor, a past chair of the Greater Orlando Builders Association’s Sales and Marketing Council said a personal visit is always preferable to a virtual tour.

 “Home builders’ virtual tours need to focus on the flow and sense of arrival that the home features in person and come as close as they can to what a live tour would look and feel like. 

“It is difficult for most shoppers to visualize the space between a kitchen and the second bedroom, for example, unless they have an engineering background.

“That is why I am such a fan of 3D technology,” Taylor said. Some builders are using 3D technology and there is no doubt other technology coming that improves whatever is in use now. 

Taylor said about 50% of her sales over the last ten years have been  new homes, so she is well qualified to speak to the wants and needs of new homes shoppers. 

For years, new home builders invited new home shoppers to visit their models any time of the seven days a week they were open. No appointment necessary.  Appointments are now required. And virtual tours are suggested before a personal visit. 

This is the builder’s attempt to generate prospects who are shopping without a Realtor. Frankly, I hope they see a meaningful improvement in their absorption rates due to increased direct sales. 

This is not to say that these builders don’t want or need Realtor support. They do and they aggressively reach out to Realtors, including putting a Realtor or Broker tab on their websites.

Resale Realtors have used virtual reality for years, including Skype, mobile devices and video. 

Orlando Realtor Gina Francis, named one of Central Florida top Realtors, says she has been using virtual reality for years mostly with investors. She takes investors on a guided tour of the resale and includes a video of home issues that she knows will be of concern to the investor. 

The goal is to show the investor what is needed to maximize the lease amount and minimize the deferred maintenance possibilities,” Francis said.  

Home builders must understand that there is a new normal type home shopper they must reach, and help them understand the value proposition as they learn to appreciate new homes without the WOW factor.  

This understanding must be manifested in their website messaging, the quality of their virtual showings, and their online guided tours. 

Three takeaways for home builders: 

1. Understand that the new showing normal does not produce the emotion and WOW factor. Err on the side of a more costly technology if you can see a marked improvement in how your models’  WOW factors come across. 
2. Experienced  Realtors know how home shoppers respond to virtual tours. Ask your favorite resale agents to take the tour and give you feedback on how they think their prospects will react. For example, “where bicycles are stored might be important, but overlooked,” Francis said.
3. On a personal note, based on a survey of ten national websites, make sure the action you want the home shopper to take is explicit. Comparison shop your competitions’ websites, and you will see why this is important. 

And one word to Realtors – New homes represent what you need the most, saleable inventory. 

For my money, the new normal for Realtors is their need to start showing new homes. As abnormal as that might sound.  

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David Fletcher, NHCB

David Fletcher is a co-founder and CEO of New Home Co-broker Academy LLC., an online e-commerce business. Visit David's website to take his famous 3-hour online course, How To Build  A New Homes Niche, to become a certified New Home Co-broker (NHCB). More than 5,000 graduates. Content is based on his long career and onsite sales success working with both builders and Realtors to list and sell more than $3 billion in new construction. If you are a broker who wants to offer your agents a way to add new homes to their resale inventory and home shoppers, this is your solution. 

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