Self-guided home tours have arrived. This game-changing innovation is opening doors –– literally and figuratively –– for home builders and real estate companies across the country.
From the Builder 100 to Zillow to leasing offices, the number of businesses providing self-guided home tours to their shoppers has skyrocketed. Within new home construction, some of the nation’s largest and most prestigious builders, including D.R. Horton (#1), Lennar Corporation (#2), Taylor Morrison (#6) and Hovnanian Enterprises (#14), have already rolled out self-guided tour technology this year. Meanwhile, Zillow recently announced that it will be extending self-touring options to all its Zillow-owned homes this summer.
Why? Because it’s an experience the consumer was demanding. It began even before COVID-19 brought “social distancing” into our collective vocabulary –– and it will remain long after. This new technology is breaking down barriers, providing an enjoyable experience for home shoppers and, ultimately, bringing more buyers to new home communities.
How Do Self-Guided Tours Help Home Builders?
Letting home shoppers into models and inventory homes unattended can be intimidating at first. It requires a shift in philosophy. But the consumer shifted long ago. The way we shop for everything has changed dramatically over the past decade and new homes are no different.
Today’s consumer wants to shop for new homes on their terms—they don’t want to be sold. They want an experience of discovery. Self-guided tours can be the perfect solution to provide the experience home shoppers demand.
Did you know that, on average, 70% to 80% of home shoppers who register on a builder’s website never visit the community? Self-guided home tours can eliminate key friction points to get them off the couch, in the car, and to your doorstep. You’ll open the door to prospects who might never have visited the community, and now you’ll have more qualified leads for sales teams to nurture.
These key benefits of self-guided home tours make it possible:
We all lead busy lives, so convenience has become mandatory. The standard 10am-to-6pm sales center hours don’t work for everyone. In a recent survey conducted via The Washington Post as well as several regional and national builders, 51% of home shoppers said they would be more likely to tour a home if they could do so before or after normal business hours.
The same survey showed 51% of shoppers also would be more likely to tour a home if they didn’t have to deal with a salesperson on their first visit. Self-guided home tours give these shoppers the freedom to tour the homes they’re interested in on their schedule. Integrating home automation technology like Amazon Alexa creates an interactive experience where home shoppers can get answers to their questions and even launch smart home features during their tour. Afterward, they are empowered to engage with a salesperson on their terms.
Consumer Health & Safety
In 2020, the COVID-19 pandemic and the necessity of social distancing has created another friction point. Self-guided home tours offer peace of mind by protecting the health and safety of home shoppers and home builder sales teams as shoppers can tour homes privately. So home shoppers who might otherwise have delayed their search or stayed away altogether can feel confident in moving forward with their home search.
More Engaged Prospects
Historically, salespeople have been the gatekeepers for the new home experience. This can be especially true in today’s environment when many communities are open by appointment only. Self-guided tour technology offers shoppers the opportunity to tour homes on their own, on demand. When a shopper completes a self-guided tour and then reaches out to the sales office, they’re already more informed, engaged and motivated than your average lead, putting your team in position to close the sale.
The best self-tour solutions will seamlessly integrate with a home builder’s established processes. Think of it as adding a very powerful tool to your arsenal, one that does not require a complete overhaul of the way you do business.
Self-Guided Tour Technology
The upheaval that 2020 has brought to our daily lives has certainly encouraged the rapid adoption of self-guided tour technology. But it was already on the way. Consumers won’t be going back to the old ways of doing things, so neither can home builders.
New platforms like UTour enable every builder to offer the on-demand, interactive, self-guided tours that consumers demand. It combines the instantaneous nature of digital access with the power of physical experience, making it as easy as possible for shoppers to do business with you. UTour includes built-in integration with Lasso. When a shopper schedules and completes a self-guided tour, their contact information is automatically fed into the Lasso CRM, providing convenient access to vital consumer data, all in one place.
Want to see how self-guided tours options are already benefiting home builders? Check out this article highlighting Taylor Morrison’s record-high sales in June and how they credit their success, in part, to adopting new technologies, including self-guided home tours.
About the author…
Tom Nelson is the Founder & CEO of UTour, an innovative service that allows home shoppers to enjoy interactive, self-guided tours of a homebuilder’s inventory homes, models and sales centers on their schedule, even early mornings or late evenings. It’s the industry’s first integrated solution for on-demand home tours that combine unattended access and AI-powered voice technology using Amazon Alexa, to meet the specific needs of homebuilders and developers. In addition, Tom has been influential in helping to shape the marketing strategies for builders around the country for over two decades as President of NDG Communications, a full-service advertising agency specializing in the new home building industry.