FloorPop  - Interactive Marketing Best Practices for Homebuilders, July 5, 2006
Vol. 7, Issue 4: Copyright (C) 2006 Blair Kuhnen.  All rights reserved.

FloorPop FloorPop (Flôr-pop) n. 1. The home buyer who visits a Builder's community and writes a contract for sale the same day. 2. The sound made by a salesperson clicking their heels high in the air and returning to the floor after a prospect signs a contract the day they first meet.

Your #1 Competitor is on the Ropes

Your #1 competitor is on the ropes and you are letting him off easy. That's not like you. So, who is your #1 competitor? Is it D.R. Horton or Pulte? No, it's not. Is it Lennar or Centex? It's not them either. Your #1 competitor is the alternative product most of your lost sales go to, the resale market.

We held a TV interview with Boyce Thompson, Editorial Director for Builder Magazine while at PCBC. I think Thompson put it well, "Last year there were 8.2 million homes sold. 7 million of those homes were existing. Only 1.2 were new homes. From a builder's perspective they really do not compete against each other, their competition is existing homes." Moving new housing's share by just 1% could mean close to 100,000 additional new homes closed annually. Thankfully, new homes represent an ever increasing value relative to resale homes, but builders need to get the word out to home shoppers.

Today, new homes are superior to resale homes for a number of reasons. However, on the Web very few builders point out the differences. I think they should. It would help your sales and the industry.

If the new home you build is clearly superior to a new home nearby, I bet you would point it out to home shoppers visiting your model. Why are builders reluctant or slow to point out the obvious advantages of new housing and put it online where most home shoppers start their home search?

I think it may stem from product deficiencies in new housing from the 1960's to the early 1990's. I'm not sure homes of that period were much better than homes of a generation before. The windows were no better, the roofing materials were about the same, the siding products left much to be desired. Today it's different.

New Homes are Better

New homes are better. Not a little better, a lot better. Let's consider the differences. Let's start with the money you save by buying new. Our new homes are tighter, better insulated, and usually come with excellent windows. Now match that with 13-SEER and 15-SEER equipment and you have homes that are hugely advantaged. While individual variances can be tremendous, according to Sam Rashkin, National Director Energy Star for Homes, "Compared to older homes we lived in as children, new Energy Star qualified homes use 1/2 to 1/3 the energy needed for core functions such as heating cooling, hot water lighting, and appliances." But it's more than money, it's also time.

New homes require dramatically less time to maintain. Paints are more durable, siding products can be nearly maintenance free, and home automation can monitor the performance of your new home. If money and time were not enough of a benefit, let's throw in your health.

The final big benefit of new housing is just now coming to fruition. New homes are becoming healthier. With whole house air filtration systems, mold prevention and control, and water purification systems, new homes are becoming an integral part of a healthy lifestyle. Not to mention the possibility of lead, asbestos, and poor wiring in older homes.

So, with all these benefits (I'm sure you can think up many more), it's time for all builders to send the message clearly to all who visit their websites and neighborhoods.

Are builders sending this message online? Not many seem to be. Here's one good example from Lennar:

http://www.lennar.com/build/buildhome.aspx

Too much? Too hard? The one benefit we can all easily talk to are the dramatic improvements in energy efficiency. If you have but one message to deliver, energy efficiency may be the one that shifts share from resale to new.

Blair Kuhnen is the publisher of FloorPop and can be reached at 817-658-7698 or via email at kuhnen@earthlink.net.

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