The Upward Trend of Online Leads for Home Builder Sales
With just about every aspect of the home buying process going virtual in the wake of the pandemic, online leads for home builder sales have never been so important to a market that continues to thrive. While online sales growth for the past five years is a strong indication that home buyer preferences were already seeing rapid change, COVID-19 restrictions have served to help further accelerate this trend.
Why It’s Important
According to a recent Pro Builder survey, “the key to meeting [housing] demand is having the people and processes in place to respond fast and personally to every single lead.” Pro Builder’s research reveals that builders can generate 38% of total sales from a high-performing online sales program.
Livabl, a source for new construction home buying and investing news, further shares data from Do You Convert, an online sales and marketing consulting and coaching firm. The conclusion: More than half (51%) of 2020’s new home builder sales came from online leads, an increase of 20% from 2018 when “less than a third of online inquiries were converted into home purchases.”
Do You Convert’s data, which was collected from over 50 builder partners, confirms that the pandemic, in essence, has served to speed up the undeniable shift from in-person to virtual home shopping that was already in motion, allowing the process to move along smoothly while protecting the health and well-being of buyers and sellers alike, not to mention accommodating an increasingly stay-at-home society. From virtual sales tools like Zoom and FaceTime to videos, 3D tours and high-quality photo galleries, virtual tools “are now the norm rather than the exception, giving buyers a feel for the layouts, finishes and available upgrades.”
With this trend at the forefront of a new business-as-usual model, the developers surveyed reported lead conversion increases upward of 70 percent during the 2020 late spring home buying season as compared to the same period in 2019. The result, according to the report, was that “more companies brought on online sales specialists to follow up on these leads.”
What does this all mean for the foreseeable future? Currently, most home searches begin online. A 2018 study by the National Association of REALTORS® put that number at a whopping 95 percent—including 99 percent of millennials who cited using the internet as their method of choice. Even with this high starting point, industry experts project that online sales programs will grow even further. Livabl surmises that given this trend, online sales programs are expected to see huge growth: “Builder budgets that were once dedicated to state-of-the-art sales centers and designer-decorated model homes will likely be redistributed to managing online leads and funding virtual tools that permit shoppers to complete nearly all of the home buying processes remotely.”