New Home Shoppers at Disadvantage Says Startup Founder

“People shopping for a new home can’t find out much about what comes with that home before they agree to a sales commitment,” says Roger Kovack, the founder of HomePersonalizer™.“Even though most new home shoppers head to the web first when they get interested in looking for a new home, they still can’t get to the information they really want.”

“The problem,” he continues “is that new home builders’ websites don’t have much in the way of detailed information about the standard features in their homes, let alone what options and upgrades are available. And there is no information about what selections are available for a specific house under construction, either.”

This situation isn’t intentionally caused by home builders. They simply do not have any convenient way to communicate all of the detailed information about a home to the public through their websites.

On top of that, the demand from consumers in general for more and better detailed information has grown dramatically during the past five years while new home building was largely shut down by the global economic recession that started in 2007.

The economic cycle is only part of this story, Kovack says. Another even larger problem that builders face is finding an effective and easy way to deliver detailed information about the volume of actual items within any home. He says that a typical home may include 1,200 different features and option choices.

“Far too many items to place on one scrolling web page,” he says, “but almost all builder websites are designed with, at the most, one page per new home model.”

“The problem has been how to organize and manage such a massive amount of information so it can be navigated through easily,” said Kovack. “That, and the builder needs to have an easy way to create and edit the data or the staff won’t use it.”

“HomePersonalizer™ solves these problems for new home shoppers and home builders alike,” he says. “We wanted a way for builders to be both transparent about what exactly they are selling and get their detailed information onto their websites. Home shoppers, who are also web users, are demanding more information about everything. This is especially true for the single largest purchase that consumers make.

Shoppers benefit from the convenience of having the information they want literally at their fingertips, at their own computer. And builders benefit from more interest in their homes via the web, increased options sales because of access to information, and, consequently, homes selling faster.

Mr. Kovack is the founder and principal software developer at buildsys.com. He brings a legacy of production home building from his family along with his 35 years of professional software development. The startup is located in Northern California’s Sonoma County.

For more information email Roger Kovack at rkovack@buildsys.com.

 

Fostering Rapport in the Sales Office

Someone recently said in conversation that a relaxing and comfortable environment encourages shoppers to linger. When they linger they become more engaged with the products and selections available to them. Certainly a new home sales office is designed to be welcoming, but shoppers don’t always feel comfortable about lingering with sales staff, and many visitors want to scoot through to the models without even talking.

HomePersonalizer™ can be a great tool for building rapport with shoppers and prospective home buyers. With HomePersonalizer™ on the screen in the sales office, you have all the information about the model details at your fingertips, and you can show shoppers that it can be at their fingertips, too. Shoppers are more comfortable and confident when they have access to the information they need to make strong decisions, including the decision to become a buyer.

When you walk them over to the screen and show them how easy it is to click into a room, its features and options, and into the details about the selections they can make, shoppers will be more responsive to what they see in the standing models. They’ll be curious about optional choices, and know the information is easily available to them. And, they’ll be ready to linger a little longer with you, their questions, and HomePersonalizer™ after they’ve toured the houses.

Later, at the convenience of their own computer, they’ll continue to linger longer in your models, and will remember you as they begin to plan their future home in your HomePersonalizer™.

For more information see:

Overview,  How it works

 

The Product Information Problem

In the past ten years everyone has gotten hungry for information as everyone who uses the web knows and that is nearly everyone. Does that lust for information exclude new homes? Of course not, but if you search through a number of home builder websites, you will find that there is precious little information about the homes they are building.

Sure, many builders offer a page of feature lists and sometimes a slide show or an elevation or floor plan but thats where product information ends. And of course the location, size and price of homes offered is also presented on their websites. What is missing is enough information to get buyers engaged in the homes themselves.

Why is this? Certainly there are mountains of details in a new home as every builder knows so there is no lack of information on the builder’s side of their website. But there is a scant amount of information available to home shoppers and even contracted buyers. What’s the problem?

 One barrier to publishing more information about features details, options choices and rooms specifications is the large mass of information itself. Lets face it, there is no hope of getting all of that on a single web page and the way builders websites are designed is one page per model and that’s that. So what is the builder that really wants to show off their work going to do?

 The answer to that question is to write a features page, encourage shoppers to visit the models and reassure them that a design studio exists. The problem is that the real details that make a house alive is not available on the website and can’t be available on a single web page.

 Okay. Got the problem. What’s the solution?

 The short answer is multiple web pages and that can be done in a limited way on a content management system (CMS) such as the popular WordPress. There are two serious flaws to that approach. One is how to organize those pages into an easy to navigate and natural flow. The other flaw is how to deliver option choices and even give the buyer the ability to select options within that page flow.

Although we have seen some builders try this, setting up the page organization is harrowing and then maintaining the information is even worse. Often the project cannot be completed or doesn’t make the mark of usability for either the buyers or the builder.

The HomePersonalizer™ solution takes all these requirements into consideration. It is a CMS with a content management control panel that is analogous to WordPress but the web page relationships are designed specifically for home builders and that doesn’t restrict your creativity.

For instance, the information subjects are completely up to the builder and can range over a wide variety of interests such as architectural rationale, product option selections, color schemes and more things than we can even imagine. Optional room suites are easy as are multiple full kitchen designs in a single model.

Sound kind of fantastical? It is, but see it for yourself at http://buildsys.com.

Products on the Shelf

I like to find a variety of products to choose from when I shop. For instance, if I am looking for a simple long sleeved, dark colored t-shirt, it is a pleasure to come upon a number of dark toned t-shirts – black, yes, but maybe a green, a blue and a burgundy to choose from also. Not to mention both crew neck and v-neck versions. The selection gives me the opportunity to compare, consider my needs, and make a choice that feels right, rather than simply settle for something that is available. In fact, I may buy more than the one color and style if I come across the right products.

Then again, if I am shopping for a toaster and there is only one product line offered, let alone only one on the shelf, more likely than not I will leave without making a purchase. I want to compare the selections and choose what will best suit my needs.

Simple shopping behaviors like these constitute one of the foundation blocks of HomePersonalizer™. New homes are considered as products made up of products, and products within products. Each component, from the models themselves, to the accessories available for one of the range selections in the kitchen, is a product with information that shoppers and buyers want to investigate before and during the process of making the big decision of buying a new home.

It is exciting for builders to have a way to present such important information on the web. Shoppers can “walk through” a model on the website – at their own convenience, as often as they want, and discover all of the features, selections and details that are available – and make and save their selections. There is really no limitation to what the builder can offer, or to the product engagement shoppers can experience, as well as the satisfaction they realize as they personalize a model.

With HomePersonalizer™ shoppers are more informed and confident when they visit the standing models, and that much closer to a purchasing decision when they visit with sales staff there.

For more information see:

Designing Products , Products on the Shelf