POV: New Home Sales During and After Coronavirus

April 20, 2020

Photo credit: U.S. State Department.

The coronavirus pandemic has shocked the home builder industry, but each individual developer has responded in its own unique way.

Some builders have paused new home construction while others are proceeding with projects in order to capitalize on the coming economic rebound. Meanwhile, almost all builders have closed sales offices in at least one market. 

The coronavirus pandemic and its economic side effects won’t last forever. 

Here’s our view on how the new home sales landscape will evolve over the next 12 months – and what sales and marketing leaders can do to prepare.

Pandemic Phase 1: Mandatory Social Distancing.

new home signs during coronavirus pandemic

New home construction may be ongoing, but many of your sales offices are closed to cut costs or to adhere to state or local government mandates.

However, bored consumers are still driving around. They have little to do and want an excuse to enjoy the spring weather from the safety of their cars. Now is not the time to stop marketing entirely.

Those of us who’ve been through a downturn or two know this: Even when buyers are nervous about investing in a new home, they’re still browsing and paring down their list of potential communities. 

Your pandemic to-do list:

  • Level up your online presence with real-time chat on your website and Facebook page and live one-on-one home tours via Facetime or Zoom.
  • Install informational kiosks outside shuttered sales offices and model homes to ensure that driveby shoppers can access floor plans, pricing, community amenities, etc.
  • Ensure that you are providing interactive details about your models, communities and home design within your customer channels.

Pandemic Phase 2: America Reopens.

At some point, the country will reopen for business. The date will vary by market based on the local public health and political situation. Some states could reopen as early as May.

Even when your market reopens, home buyers will be cautious due to financial insecurity and the health risk of engaging with a sales person. At the very least, handshakes will be less common.

Home builders that can calm consumers’ nerves and convince them to leave the perceived safety of their cars will sell homes. Home builders that can’t, won’t.  

Your pandemic to-do list: 

  • Review your daily cleaning practices and train your sales managers on the new etiquette of doing business in the age of coronavirus. 
  • Leverage your weekend directional and onsite signage systems to convince shoppers that your community is the community worth stepping out of the car for.
  • Bridge the gap between digital and environmental marketing. These marketing vehicles work in tandem to engage and inform new home buyers during their search both at home and around your communities.

Pandemic Phase 3: The New Normal. 

Our health concerns will fade over time but the economic damage may linger for quite some time. Families will have missed out on weeks, months, or more of earnings. Investors will have had small fortunes wiped out in the volatile stock market. 

Homes will still sell. They just won’t sell themselves as they’ve done the last few years. Sales and marketing teams will have to work as hard as they did in the Great Recession to close deals. 

And, as anyone who survived that downturn can tell you, it’ll take more than virtual tours on your website to sell homes in a soft market. 

Your post-pandemic to-do list:

  • Amplify online marketing by integrating with tried and true tactics like weekend directional sign systems. After all, 80% of your weekend foot traffic is tied to signage. 
  • Reassess your existing partnership ecosystem. Seek out partners offering scale, strategic thought, and proven implementation excellence.
  • Understand the difference between “home search” and “home sale”. Home builders in several markets have developed the means to help them sell homes and identify buyers, but many are still struggling to engage buyers during their home search.

Have you adapted your strategy due to the coronavirus pandemic?

We’d love to hear your approach to new home search and sales in the age of coronavirus. Contact us!

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