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Can buying a home today really be as simple as pressing a button? Kimberly Mackey of New Homes Solutions and Carol Morgan from Denim Marketing host Blue Tangerine’s Greg Bray and Matthew Slutsky of BuzzBuzzHome on the Sales & Marketing Power Hour podcast to discuss buying homes online. The four chat about converting your website into an e-commerce engine where home buyers can easily click a “Buy Now” button to purchase their new home. The auto industry has perfected this with cars with various options and upgrades, so how can home builders make this possible as well? Join us as we examine how home builders can transform their online sales methods to boost their transactions.
Matthew Slutsky is the President and Co-Founder of BuzzBuzzHome. With a background in land development, Matthew possesses a wealth of knowledge on the new development industry’s inner workings, which has been integral to the advancement of his company. At BuzzBuzzHome, Matthew focuses on building the brand and marketing the platform to the public, clients, and stakeholders.
As President of Blue Tangerine, Greg uses digital marketing to help home builders grow sales. At Blue Tangerine, Greg aids builders by helping them build a better website and drive more qualified traffic to the site. Greg enjoys teaching the techniques and skills that he’s learned. He has presented at the International Builders’ Show (IBS), the Southeast Building Conference, the Best Home Building Practices Summit, and other webinars and events. He is proud to be a host of the Home Builder Digital Marketing Podcast and Summit.
[00:00:00]Welcome to another edition of the Sales and Marketing Power Hour with your host, Carol [00:01:00] Morgan, with denim marketing, and Kimberly Mackey with new home solutions consultant.
Kimberly Mackey: See, what time is it? I think it's probably about time when it gets started. Time to get started.
Carol Morgan: All right. Well welcome everybody. We appreciate you joining us for yet another sales and marketing power hour, and this is going to be a very fun topic of conversation today. A buy now button coming to a website near you soon, or maybe it's already there.
So without further ado, we will do our. Quick, um, introductions. Um, first of all, we want to make sure that you know about it, our Sales and Marketing Power Hour Facebook group. Um, so, you know, join us there. Lots of lively conversation, feel free to start the conversation or join in on one. We'd love to have all of you guys on there and probably a lot of you already are.
And then quick introductions. I'm Carol Morgan, founder and [00:02:00] president of denim marketing. Uh, we specialize in public relations, social media, digital marketing, really pretty much content. So if it can be written, we do it, everything from blogs, um, traditional public relations. So yes, we still write media, um, advisories and news releases and send those out and score lots of coverage for our clients.
And we will work across a pretty broad spectrum of the home building industry. So we work for builders, developers, architects, um, temporary staffing agencies, some technology products. If it's related to home building in the B to C space or B2B, we probably do it. Um, that's how he reached me. And I'm going to let Kimberly introduce herself, although I don't know that she needs an introduction.
Kimberly Mackey: Aw. So hi everybody. Uh, I'm Kimberly Mackey. My company is new home solutions consulting. And I like to say, of course, that I'm the person or the company that comes in to make sure that sales is the engine that drives the dream rather than running it off the tracks. And right now sales is [00:03:00] running all of our companies off the track.
So my focus has shifted from making sure we have enough sales. To managing that sales pace, managing, uh, managing that pipeline pipeline of buyers. Uh, I'm spending a lot of time doing some handholding, uh, with, uh, with sales management teams and, uh, again, making sure that our brands don't get damaged and that we're still providing that great customer experience.
So, uh, if I can help you with any of that, please feel free to give me a shout out. And Caroline, I'm super excited about our guest today. We've gone international again. So this is cool. So,
Carol Morgan: So, um, we're going to let Greg and my, uh, Matthew introduced themselves. So Greg you're first up.
Greg Bray: All right. Well, hello everybody.
Thanks for coming today. I'm Greg Bray, the president of Blue Tangerine. And Blue Tangerine is a full service, digital marketing and website development agency that specializes in the home builder industry. So if you're looking to build a better website, drive more traffic to [00:04:00] that site and get more sales than giving a call.
I'm also proud to be the co-host of the home builder digital marketing podcast. So if you haven't had a chance to listen to that, we'd love to have you join us there.
Carol Morgan: Fantastic podcast tune in and listened to the episode on public relations
Greg Bray: with the guest, Carol Morgan.
Kimberly Mackey: I'm sure there's a customer experience.
One in there too. I should probably know the episode number.
Carol Morgan: Yeah. I should know mine too. And I don't want to, yeah, I would be guessing, but, um, Matthew, you want to give us a quick introduction?
Matthew Slutsky: Hey everybody, it's Matthew Slutsky. I'm the president and co-founder of buzz buzz home. We are essentially like an MLS, but for new construction.
So we're one of the largest online listings of all new residential construction. From high-rise to low-rise subdivisions, anything new we listed on BuzzBuzzHome. Um, currently I don't have a podcast to, to, to pump, um, Yeah, that's who I am.
Carol Morgan: Excellent. Glad to have you here as well. I'm going to stop the screen share so that everybody can [00:05:00] see us bigger now, and we'll go back to it at the end of the program for our final slide.
But, um, thanks again, everyone for being here. And I think this is going to be really a fun conversation. So let's kick it off with a question for Greg. What does buy online actually mean for a builder?
Greg Bray: Oh, Carol. That's, that's a great question because I think it actually means something very different to every builder.
And that's where some of the topics that we are conversations that we have get a little confusing, because I think there's a perception that it means just this full everything you could possibly ever do. Just happens when you click a button and it's just magic and all of a sudden, you know, tomorrow you can move in and, and it's, you know, yeah, it does.
It does, but, but I've seen, it means something as simple as a lot reservation for, you know, a, a small, a small payment, um, it can get into model selections. It can get into, you know, uh, mortgage applications, whether that's a simple pre qual with just a few questions or [00:06:00] the full kit caboodle of the full application, lots of different ways that you can make the buying process part of your website.
Carol Morgan: Yeah, absolutely. Um, Matthew, you want to chime in on that?
Matthew Slutsky: I see by now as being. When I think of buy now is the full transaction. So literally being able to buy online, this is something that we actually launched a few years ago, um, through a company that we created called Daypack, which was a full inventory management software for builders that manage, uh, POS in the sales center, as well as allowed people to buy online through BuzzBuzzHome.
Um, we were a little early to the market and we've actually, um, shelved that product at the moment, although we did go live with buying online. Um, so I see that's one side of it is the literal click to buy, uh, buy online, full transaction, takes you through the entire funnel. And then the other side of it is the more personal buyer online.
So rather [00:07:00] than having to go to a sales center, um, see everything be sold to fill out paperwork there, being able to interact digitally or even. In the sales center, but then coming back home, being able to sign and do the entire process through DocuSign and more of a handheld method. When I see both of those is very good examples of vial line, very different from kind of handholding to full, uh, Amazon model of click and buy.
Carol Morgan: Yeah, I think we're all used to that Amazon model of clicking by and Kimberly, the other word we have to learn to say like Matthew is process. I can't even say it, but it's about and process. We don't say right here in the south. So,
Kimberly Mackey: um, my reaction is typically to go more Southern. So exactly.
Carol Morgan: Well, you know, Kimberly, do you want to talk a little bit about, you know, kind of the by now and the online revolution and Carvana and CarMax and you know, that whole trend,
Kimberly Mackey: I'll be [00:08:00] happy to kick it off.
And then we have an expert here on Carvana. So we do, so we'll turn it over to him for that. But you know, as, as I've said on many of our, our webinars, you know, my previous home, my, that I've lived in for 20 years, we sold it virtually the buyers bought it sight unseen. Um, this is not unusual for a long time with military buyers.
They've been buying sight unseen, but it was, it was. It was, uh, we provided a lot of virtual tours. We provided a lot of, you know, I did aerial with drones. We did walk-through videos. We did good high-quality virtual tours with professional photography. Um, so that people really got a sense of it. And again, it was an existing home.
It wasn't adding options or I wasn't gonna change anything. Although I did have to put a roof on perfectly good roof. I had to tear off. I was still a little bitter about that one. Um, but, um, you know, buyers are ready to do that for the [00:09:00] used home market in, in at least in, in some places. And we're seeing a huge uptick in that right now.
Are they ready, to, to make the leap and totally buy online when it's a new home, which is already a little scary and it's already sight unseen. I mean, we've, we've been selling them virtually that's what a to be built is. Right. So we've been selling them from paper, from drawings, from the website, um, just to show people what they're going to get.
So how big a leap is it really then to, to go, Hey, let me, let me go through this myself, but I think it's still a little more high touch. I'll tell you that. That
Matthew Slutsky: was when we launched by now, that was kind of our, with Daypack. That was at our thesis was we specialize in new construction and the vast majority of new construction lists inventory house, there is nothing there to touch.
Like you're going to a sales center for a sales experience and probably one of the strongest. Sales experiences you'll ever go [00:10:00] through. I mean, it is a, uh, hardcore sales environment in the new construction world. So you're actually, there is nothing to actually see. There might be a model home built or there might be a model suite built that are totally upgraded beyond belief.
So it's not even what you're going to be getting. Um, and that was kind of our belief is why wouldn't someone buy online rather than exposing themselves to that process. Um, but it didn't really turn out that way. I mean, it, people still need that. Hand-holding um, and again, we thought there was no doubt that the military often bought that way, but that's what we thought new construction was the perfect model for buying online.
Like there is no house to see there's no physical structure to take, take an inspector through your spouse through it. Here's like a piece of paper, like a 2d drawing and being like, okay, give us a half a million dollars now for this piece of paper. Um, so, so we thought that it was kind of the perfect [00:11:00] market for buying online and I think we're getting there.
I still don't think we're fully there yet in most markets.
Kimberly Mackey: Yeah. Cars, you know, kind of are getting there. Maybe they're getting there faster than us because the car buying experiences. I feel like so far, so much further inferiors, and it's not a great experience. So maybe that's it, Greg, what do you think?
So you're the car buying expert?
Greg Bray: Well, I don't know if I'm a car-buying ex, but I am a, I am a big Carvana fan and happy customer with multiple purchases, um, in, in the, in the past. So, um, but, but I would say, I think if you want to find one word that connects all of these conversations, it's about trust, isn't it?
Because, because when we don't trust what we're going to get for our money, that's where the hesitancy hesitancy comes from. So you look at Carvana. What did, what did they do to, to make that trust more comfortable? They give me the chance to return the car if I don't like them, you know? So, so you can get the car for seven [00:12:00] days.
You can have it for seven days. And if you don't like it, no questions asked you can return it. So what does that do for my fear of making mistake? What does that do for the trust of, am I going to get what I really think I'm going to get? Are these pictures or is this virtual tour really going to be what it is, is going to show up?
You know, in my driveway, when I have this car, I think it really is. We think about that, that trust that now, again, I'm a big Carvana fan, but I hate their website. All right. I'm going to the website. If, if there's anybody who knows somebody in the Carvana web developer, give me a call. I can save them a hundred thousand dollars.
Okay. Because I give them all kinds of feedback on their user experience. It's not. Ideal. Okay. The ability to compare and the ability to, to, to favorite things and find what you were looking at before and see some of the details. There's a lot of opportunity for improvement there, but once you hit buy, this is the one I want.
The, the process is fantastic. Um, you know, the, the ease of figuring it all out, the, the lack of, [00:13:00] of worry about what's happening. What's not, but I did not buy those cars without talking to somebody. I called them a couple of times, you know, I had interactions with the delivery person. I returned two hours.
Carol Morgan: going to ask if you'd return,
Greg Bray: once you've returned to, I returned I've, I've bought three. So I only return one per transaction. Um, but there were things that showed up that I, you know, what, it didn't look like that in the picture to me, sorry, not the right one. And that was, that was fine. You know? So, um, when I, when I sit there and think about how does that translate to builders again?
How do we deal with the trust issues of, am I going to get what I think I'm going to get. When I, when I make this cause isn't that what makes us really hesitate? You know, as in looking for that, how do I know what I'm really going to get
Matthew Slutsky: for this? That's a huge difference. And I haven't been on Carvana, but how many car manufacturers are there that you can buy in, in the United States or north America?
Like the handful and you know, them all like, would [00:14:00] you be buying a car off of Carvana if it was by luck car? And it was like unknown and there's what is the, the, the history of the car manufacturer and the regulations around that. So you feel secure. There's also, listen, you go outside, you see a hundred Volvo SUV is not what they look like.
You know what you're going to be getting through that process, but there are thousands upon thousands on thousands of builders and each unit they produce is a pretty unique unit. I mean, instead of you going down the street and you're like, oh, that's the, uh, Model four C evergreen, the house I just bought.
The four seat green evergreen house, uh, is pretty low. So it was getting over that, that some of the big builders who have really stronger patients might be in a different playing field than your, than your typical builder. But even the big builders. I mean, there's efficiencies, there's issues. It's not a standardized process for every unit.
Like it is a car
Kimberly Mackey: and [00:15:00] people don't understand it. I mean, being an expert in the industry, I still had questions in buy and buying and building, and this was my third new home to build. And I still had questions. There were things, there are things that have changed. Each builder does things differently. Um, there, I mean, you know, it, it, a lot of the stuff through, through even the construction I had to ask questions about.
So, and I, I stumped my builder a couple of times he had to go find out from the manufacturer of that product. Because I was asking questions that, uh, you know, out of curiosity, more than out of fear of, of user what it was going to be like as an end user, but just to make sure I understood it because it was different.
It was something that had changed.
Matthew Slutsky: Yeah. And I'd see with that. There's definitely, I think probably a lot of what you're talking about is that the minute details, but I think all of us here in new construction can read a floor plan really well. I mean, me who is more specialized for me, it's condos. I can read a condo for a [00:16:00] plan and understand that really well.
And it's hard to remember that the lay public has no idea how to read a two D floor plan. Even if it's a small 500 square foot unit. I mean, it looks like a eight by eight. Primary bedroom is huge. I mean, it just doesn't make sense to the average user. So it's a scary thing, you know,
Carol Morgan: and condos, that's a great point.
You know, condos have been sold from plans or 3d tours for, you know, a decade because you typically, aren't going to start that, you know, building going, you know, vertical until you even have sold, you know, 40 or 50% of it, you can't get your loan. So, you know, that's something we in this industry have been good at.
So it makes the transition in some ways, I think a little bit easier, but let's dive into, um, does buy online equals self service because I know that's what a lot of people, you know, seem to think they can just self service it and buy online. Talk about that a little bit,
[00:17:00] Greg Bray: Greg. I think that's one of the disconnects when I talk to people, because I think that's what the assumption is that, that when we say put a buy button on your website, that they immediately go to.
That, that means we have to support an entire self-service model. And I do not believe that that's really what the typical purchase process. It certainly, I can foresee some small percentage of buyers that are comfortable with that, but I believe for the most part, no buy online does not equal self-service it does not mean that I never talked to anybody.
It does not mean that, that I don't have questions I need resolved. It does not mean that I wouldn't benefit from some guidance to find the right home, that for me, and to make sure that that's there. Um, it, it does mean though that there's a portion of the transaction supported online, so I can do it by myself, but not necessarily from, from a to Z the whole thing.
That's my, my feeling on that. And I think when [00:18:00] people say no, people will never buy homes online. I think it's because of the, they're making that assumption that it is that's full. Self-service never talked to anybody type of process.
Kimberly Mackey: Right? Well, and I think salespeople are terrified. But, you know, oh, we're going to put this out there and then I'm not going to have a job anymore.
There's not going to be a need for me. And in fact, I think it enhances the sales process because a good educated customer, just like a good educated realtor. I mean, that's the best for me. Um, I, and they're coming in maybe at a different place in the funnel, so they're more qualified. They're more ready because they've had a lot of their questions answered.
They can see this stuff and they can, they can touch it online or touch it online with some sort of combination, like maybe a self tour. Um, I, you know, something to that effect before they reach that salesperson, you know, I think it's about where are people coming in? Do we force them through the top of the funnel or is it okay if they [00:19:00] enter, uh, about halfway through?
Um, that's my question. Good,
Carol Morgan: good questions. Well, you've talked a little bit about what by now doesn't mean. So talk about how by now does work on some of the builder websites where it exists.
Greg Bray: Is that me or Matt,
Carol Morgan: either one who wants to go first, either both.
Greg Bray: I, I can, I, you know, what, what I've seen, um, varies a lot.
I've seen some simple by now simply means save your lot for 48 hours, you know, and, and it's kind of a reservation so that you know that somebody else isn't going to get it. You make a small deposit payment to, to prove you're serious, right? We're not talking about tens of thousands of dollars. It, you know, I mean, you, you don't want it to be, you know, $10 cause you want somebody to have to think at least for a minute before they, they, they, they put that in.
Um, of course being able to. Then go beyond the law and pick which, which home it is that you [00:20:00] want. You know, some of the features that maybe that home has is kind of where you go on that next step. I've seen though, also inventory homes that are, you know, completely specked out, done, you know, move in and next 30 days type of thing where people are saying, no, this is the home I want.
And, and this is, you know, I'm going to pay. And again, it's still not a full payment of $200,000, but it's, it's a, it's a, it's a step one. I've got this home. Now I'm still going to have to talk to somebody, but there's a process that I'm kicking off with that purchase. That's that's what I'm seeing out there in the market, right?
No. How did
Carol Morgan: they deal with them? Mortgage qualifications on some of those sites where they're, you know, reserving that, you know, home. And
Greg Bray: I think there's a lot of, um, Dependencies or, or if you will caveats, that's the word I'm looking for in this? You know, we're, we're holding this for you pending final approval of financing, or we're holding this pending final, this or that.
Or you have to now talk to a salesperson in order to move to the next [00:21:00] step in the process. So you are entering into the process on your own at home, ready to get started, but there's going to be a phone call or a meeting or something coming up really soon. We,
Matthew Slutsky: we see it as the full transaction. I mean, that, that is where we would like to get to.
And we tried getting our leads as far as close to the transaction line as possible. I think reserving a property is great. It's a step closer transaction, but when, when we talk about it at our company and our future plans, it's trying to get to the transaction level literal, find out, um, the process that we came up with.
It actually had the ability for people to upload their pre-approvals. Um, there was stuff to meet different, uh, anti money laundering regulations, especially that are in Canada. So you had to upload like, um, know your customer, know your client type of information. So your passport, your, um, a bunch of ideas, um, a bunch of different paperwork that you had to upload.
So what [00:22:00] happened was when you click buy now and you went through the funnel, the final stages, that entire package with the signed APS got sent to the builder to review, and then for them to sign off. So they were now seeing your mortgage preapproval, all your documentations. Uh, we also did your first deposit through credit card, so they, they actually saw the flow of money.
Um, so it was the actual full process. Um, again, that is kind of the ultimate goal to get to, I think reserving properties is fantastic. But I also think the more handheld human backend approach is really important in today's market. So kind of what you're talking about. Sure. You can, um, go into the sales center.
You can see everything, you can go back to your house, make your final decision. The sales team can send over a DocuSign package. You can do your signing from the comfort of your home rather than having to be in the sales center. I also consider that by online. Uh, that's a version of it. Yeah, it's a very good version.
I think that [00:23:00] is the actual realistic one right now. I think the click to buy model is realistic in a very small percentage of the population, um, in a very small segment of different markets. So in Southern Ontario, the investor market high rise, I think is so the investors who are buying five years before these things are built, they've already probably bought 15 condos, maybe 20 condos in the past.
They understand floor plans. They understand the process, they know all the builders. Inside a note in connection, make those decisions. It's a no brainer. You can see a good price, you know how to read a plan sure. By done. Um, I think that, and again, that is a very small, um, playing field, but I do think that's a good stepping stone or a good starting point for the first people who will actually click the buy now button.
Kimberly Mackey: I think investors do have that too, you know, they're because they're not emotionally attached to it. So they're looking at ROI, right. And when you're talking about someone that's going to be their [00:24:00] primary residence or even a second home or vacation, there's an emotional attachment that goes to that. And you know how, I don't know how we attribute for that with just by now.
I, I, you know, I don't know. How we get there. A car to me is some people are very emotionally attached to their cars. I certainly don't want to diminish that, but it's, most of us are not totally vested in what kind of vehicle we drive it to me. It's something, you know, it needs to be nice enough that I'm comfortable.
It needs to be safe. And it needs to get me from point a to point B. Well, and
Carol Morgan: you're only going to own that vehicle for how many years compared to how long people are staying in homes now. So
Matthew Slutsky: yeah. And you know that you're going to be losing money on your car.
Really important part is you're buying something, knowing you're going to only have it for a few years. Most likely knowing you're going to be losing money on it versus, and knowing that if you do lose money on it, you're cool with that versus buying a home. You're going to hope it's going to, if it's built well, [00:25:00] and it's natural livable home, um, with good materials, it's going to hopefully appreciate and value unless, and you realize the bedroom is six feet by six feet, and nobody wants to buy that.
But if you're talking. Quantities of money that could actually bankrupt you where you're expecting increase in capital. Um, so I think that there's a big difference between buying a car, uh, and buying a house that said again, I'm, uh, I would like to get the buy now process. I just recently tried buying a bike online cause getting more locked down and it took me weeks to pick like a not expensive bike.
And it was just mind blowing all the different features. And, um, you know, I was thinking if I had such a hard time buying a bicycle online, it is not going to be easy. Getting someone to pay 500, a thousand, a million, 2 million for a new home.
Kimberly Mackey: I'm buying rugs and you know, color variations are so subtle and you can't tell online and [00:26:00] I'm taking two pictures and literally making a collage out of them and putting them side by side instill it doesn't even.
You know, they, they show up and then they don't match. I need two rugs to go in a space where they're going to have to coordinate, but of course, you know, that's a lot, you know, and I think about that, I had to do my color session online and fortunately I did have the opportunity to preview, but still, you know, I mean, like I love all of my colors, everything worked out well, except for my backsplash, which just drives me insane.
And it looked online like it was the perfect thing, you know, and, but it wasn't, it was just, you know, when in reality it was just slightly off.
Matthew Slutsky: So we're a great sales team can make a world of difference in a great corporate culture. Because again, in the kind of hybrid version, they could have sent you actual samples to your hips, which to you would have been like a wow moment, like this building, like a big swatch.
It could be a small swap to show you, but that, [00:27:00] that is something that could really set builders apart. I think somebody was great
Kimberly Mackey: idea or have them at the sales center so that people could stop by,
Matthew Slutsky: but just the
Kimberly Mackey: whole online thing. Yeah. So,
Carol Morgan: you know, and that's, I guess brings up a good point. So does buy online or buy now, does that mean that they don't ever visit the cell center or don't ever visit the model home?
What do you
Greg Bray: guys think? Well, I think, I think there's certainly danger in putting all of our buyers into a single bucket of this is how everyone will do it. Right. And so, uh, when we talk about kind of the, that pro we, I think we need to recognize that. A portion of the buyer, buyer group wants this, whereas the others will always do it the way it's been done.
And there'll be some that'll be more comfortable. And so as we, as we pick and choose, um, I think it's very likely that someone can come visit to our model, visit community and then go home and say, okay, I already know I want the sunset's model. Cause I walked it. I already walked around. So I want lot, you know, [00:28:00] whatever.
And now I go and say, now I click, I want a lot, this, I want this home. And I, and I go through the process on the website because I have done my research by visiting, you know, and I think that's a very viable one. You know, the idea of someone's remote and can't, and you can send them some things to make them comfortable with.
Some of the options or, or things like that. Of course, the virtual tours and the interactive floor plans and all those, you know, mandalas or visualization tools to help us see things help with that trust piece. Um, I think maybe, maybe it might be helpful to step back for just a second, if I, if I could absolutely.
And, and say, why do we even want to do this? Why, why do we even want this, this buy online? Is it because it's better for the builder or is it because the buyer wants it and expects it and needs it? Um, and, and I think there's some benefits to the builder from doing it, but if we're only doing it because we're trying to let our salesperson meet with twice as many folks, because they do half the stuff, you know, at home online, that's a different goal then [00:29:00] because the customer really wants it this way.
And if the customer really wants it this way, We are going to lose the sale to the builder who provides it in the way that they want to do it, if we haven't. Um, and, and so I guess, I guess that that's kind of the, we have to decide for our market, for our demographic. Does it matter to them to do it this way?
Carol Morgan: Yeah. I'd love to know. Do we know, do they want it, would they use it? I mean, we know some of them will because certainly they are.
Matthew Slutsky: I would argue that it is a much better buying experience for the consumer, with the online model. I think again, I think the sales environments can be so herb and salesy that I think
Kimberly Mackey: that again, I said they shouldn't be,
Matthew Slutsky: but they are, I mean, in the majority places.
So I think giving the people the ability to really do their research from home [00:30:00] and have full transparency. I mean, I think that the world, right, the new construction world. Right now is very different than it was 10 years ago where you couldn't even get plans or pricing online. Uh, you know, having the ability for people to actually do their, their real hard research online, and then they can still go to the sales center, but they at least know have a greater depth of knowledge I think is, is really good for the consumer.
Kimberly Mackey: There's another component to this. And, and I had a builder who they were semi-custom they're, uh, they're up in the Wisconsin market and they had a version of this online. So you could price out your home and it, it was incredible what they were trying to do. So they were kind of ahead of the curve, the problem wasn't on the front end, because it worked really well.
It generated a lot of appointments for our sales team, but what it did, but what happened is it clogged up the funnel on the purchasing side because they were semi-custom and [00:31:00] everything had to be individually priced. So they didn't, they, they didn't have their processes and procedures in place to allow for the onslaught of people who wanted to use this to price out their semi-custom home.
Uh, and they did both, uh, community builds as well as, uh, scatter site builds. So, you know, the, and that's a different thing because you think you price out your home if you're doing scatter site, but then you don't factor in what are the site conditions and will this home even fit on that site? Does it even work?
You know what I mean? So there's, there's so many variables there that I think builders need to really stop and think about their processes and procedures to support it before they just jump in and go, okay, well, let's just, let's just put this button on here. It's not a button. So Greg, you talked about that quite a bit.
Matthew Slutsky: There's a huge amount that has to go into the back end. Exactly what you're saying, Arkansas controls. And you know, somebody mentioned in the chat that that's what they want, but builders are giving it to them. And again, that's where I'm saying the transparency comes. [00:32:00] Because if you are going to do a buy now button, you are forced to be transparent with that information.
Like you can't hide it. It needs to be, uh, you need to be fully transparent and that transparency has to go to your sales center as well. You know, that was one of the really hard parts with our data back was it was much more than just a buy now button. It was an actual inventory management system for the builders.
So once something sold, it had to be showing us sold everywhere. All the details had to be available, uh, on it. Um, so you need to bring transparency to the market, a buy now button really forces that upon the market. And I
Greg Bray: think that the data management piece is, in my opinion, one of the biggest obstacles that most builders have to even starting in this direction, because you cannot run something like this off Excel, I'm sorry, I'm sorry.
You can't, you can't do it. And, and you've got to have that, that, that clear pricing and the other challenge of course, builders [00:33:00] have, well, how do I know how much the faucet's going to cost? Because there's a thousand of them they could pick, you know? And, and, and that's where. You go back and look at at the auto industry and how have they solved that particular problem they've created packages, right?
There's, there's three trims. And, and yes, if you really do the full custom order, you can get different stuff. But most of us are having to pick between three or four kind of preset bundles of what we want. And I don't, I see a little bit of that in the, in the building industry. And we S we tend, I think builders don't like that idea because it loses some of the personal touch.
And then, and again, what is your demographic? What is your market? What is your type of home fit that, that doesn't make any sense for. The, the super custom builder, of course, but, but if you can get to that point, um, where you can simplify some of those choices and lock in some of that pricing at a, at a place where it's [00:34:00] set, because you know these things and of course, ignoring lumber price changes that go all over the place.
But, um, then, then does that open up some simplicity that allows this to be a little easier to manage? It's
Matthew Slutsky: funny that you mentioned the Excel sheets, cause that's such an important piece of it that, you know, one question is. Well, the public actually go for a buy now button or an online process. The other is can builders actually do it at BuzzBuzzHome.
We get, you know, part of our, our data sources as builders give us feeds of their inventory, which is great. We often get builders saying, yeah, we'll feed you. Who should we fax or Excel sheet to? Like, I don't even think we have a fax number. Um, but that is kind of where again, a lot of builders still do manage their entire inventory off of basic Excel sheet.
So they could not even get to an online purchasing experience without fully changing the way that they [00:35:00] operate, which is really tough for a lot of builders. I mean, it not just tough because it's a tough thing to do, but mentally to overcome that barrier, this is how we've been doing it for the last 60 years.
And it's worked. Why are we going to change? What's worked. We know this process inside out, um, But unless they can get over that, then you can't
Kimberly Mackey: buy gold. Oh, I'm sorry. Go ahead. That's why 90% of the population doesn't buy new because they think it's too complicated because too many choices just leads to pare being paralyzed.
You just don't even know how to move forward. So, you know, that's the big builders. When you look at, you know, when you look at the big national builders, they are offering packages, right? And there's a reason for that because they found that their buyers are happier and they're because they're producing the same things over and over, and it's allowing them to have that buying power.
So the buyer's getting better value. And we find in our mark, in the Tampa [00:36:00] market and the Florida market buyers flock to that production builder, even at really high price points more than they go to your semi-custom and custom builder, because now somebody has simplified this process for them. So to me, this is just taking it another step further that we're just taking, making something else a little more simple and eliminating barriers to entry.
Carol Morgan: Yeah. Well, and it goes back to our pre show banter about technology and how COVID really fast paced home building, you know, to jump onto the technology bandwagon. But how far behind the home building industry still is lots of other industries, which is why we have buyers who want to buy online
Kimberly Mackey: fax machines, give them up.
I'm just saying, go do you know, leave that to the government and, and, and the, uh, and the, the medical professionals. So let's get rid of those
Matthew Slutsky: technologically speaking. COVID moved builders off like 10 years [00:37:00] overnight, and they're still now only 20 years behind not to say that, but every builder, there are some very technological builders, but vast majority are still veer.
Carol Morgan: W we have a, um, a comment in the chat, um, Redfin has the figures that show that many people make offers online without seeing the home. Now that's California, where they have intense inventory shortages. This shows that consumers want this look at the Redfin model. They even ask if the buyer has a buyers agent, and if not, they quote the dollars.
The buyer will save. Without that buyer's agent obviously encouraging buyers to make offers by mentioning this savings, especially makes the buy now attractive to the buyers since they can have savings, not encouraging the strategy, but, um, interesting to will and to look at
Greg Bray: well. And I, I, to, to totally expose some of my past history, I bought my first home in 1999 sight unseen.
Wow. We, [00:38:00] it was not online. It was not online. Okay. It was, it was from some email pictures from, from the agent and we did have it, and it was. Just a weird that we had gone to tour. We were moving, we had gone to visit the area we had been shown around and hadn't seen anything we liked. We had to go back home.
We, we didn't, we were trying not to make another trip because we were young and poor and you know, it was, we probably should have just rented an apartment for six months. Right. And then, and then shopped around. But we were too young, important, naive to understand that piece. So we had a couple of my future coworkers, spouses that toured a couple and said, this looks good.
We think you'll like it. And then we got a few pictures and we took the plunge and it worked out. It worked out because of some things that you can always just repaint that you can always just get that fixed. You can see some of these things that they come up, new homes have a huge advantage. Compared to resales because it's brand new it's it's, it's, up-to-date, it's [00:39:00] got the latest and greatest.
And honestly, I think one of the biggest missed marketing tools in this type of conversation that builders miss out on is plugging their warranty. You know, where, where does my fear of something going wrong? You know, disappear. When I understand that you're going to come back and fix it all for how long, you know?
And, and, and you may even sell me an upgrade to make that even longer, you know, where I can get a few more years on it or whatever. I think that's a real warranties, like in this little corner, somewhere of the website for the current customers and it's hidden away. And we don't like to talk about it is a huge selling advantage in my opinion, to take away that fear of something that I haven't been able to see in tour, um, or don't have the time to do
Kimberly Mackey: great point and remodeling is not for the faint of heart.
Let me tell you it is. It's messy stuff goes wrong, delays happen, and you're living in it. You know, it's all that. Yeah. [00:40:00] It's messy. Stuff goes wrong. We all those things, but you're not living there, you know? So it's a very big difference. So yeah. Kudos to you that you were able to do that and, and you were ahead of your time.
What a revolutionary.
Greg Bray: Well, I don't think it was the right choice, but Hey, in today's environment, it makes me sound like I'm a leader, right. Engineering
Carol Morgan: way back in 1999,
Matthew Slutsky: I think it was, that's a good point that Redfin does show that there is a desire for the public. And I think their model doesn't translate exactly into new construction.
I know many builders who won't give a discount just because you don't have one realtor. Um, I mean, it's a, it's a totally different model, but I think it does show that there is the demand there for this. I don't, I think that's a given, I think we've been seeing this, especially through, COVID not necessarily getting the buy now, but [00:41:00] feels are just happening or have been happening online with DocuSign.
And there's a ton of tools that actually make it totally, uh, available. And I think those tools in that approach is really important right now, especially again, we were talking about this pre show. I don't have any stats on this, but I believe the young and your market really relies on from what I see on realtors to handle them through, especially the final processes, they might start their search online, do as much research as they can, but when it comes to actually doing the transaction itself, they need someone there holding their hand.
And that's not a bad thing at all. I think it is the importance of the realtor to give that competence, to make sure that they've looked at comparables, looked at different options. And understand the marketplace. So I think it's a smart move and a good move, um, that they want that. But it is, I think, a really important part of the online purchasing experience, especially for the younger generation.
Kimberly Mackey: 50%, 50 or [00:42:00] 60% of our buyers, depending on what kind of market you're in them. And then in Tampa where I'm sitting, it's a 70 or 80% brokerage situation where buyers want that person. They want that person in there. They're perceived to be in their corner in Florida. We're all transaction agents. So you don't necessarily represent the transaction, not the person, but the buyer still feels that they have that person in their corner who can, can read the contracts, who can advise them of things, or can be that other set of eyes when they're not able to be somewhere.
And there's value in having that. If you have the right. Representation, uh, for a builder that can, that can go the other way. If you have that, that hysterical realtor or the one who blows up deals, that that's not a good thing, but there are a lot of educated, strong, uh, outside agents who really do represent that buyer and, and are valuable assets to those of us in new homes.
I just want to [00:43:00] make
Matthew Slutsky: one other point that Greg mentioned, and that was the importance of the warranty. And coupled that with the comments that he made about car buying through, I don't even remember the name upstate and Carmella, and being able to return a car. Now, every area is different. I mean, again, we operated a lot of different areas, but in many areas there's a cooling off period after you purchase new construction.
So in Southern Ontario, it's 10 days in BC, it's seven days. And that means for in loudest use Southern Ontario is the example for 10 days after you purchase new construction, For any reason whatsoever, you could just call up the builder and cancel immediately and get your refund. Um, and it's meant it came into place because of the, I mentioned this a few times and hopefully I'll be able to gain Bordeaux, but because of the really harsh sales experience in the sales centers and people almost being bullied to purchase this gave them a 10 days to kind of walk away and be like, whoa, what did we just do?
Um, so [00:44:00] that model, again, works really well for purchasing online. Is this a 10 or sever? Any amount of days where you can literally just call up and say, cancel. We did that
Kimberly Mackey: with a builder in, uh, in Florida when COVID hit. So we offered because we had people who were concerned, am I still gonna have a job?
So, and we didn't start their home, but we would allow them to go ahead and purchase and lock in their pricing. And then we would delay the start for 60 days. So they had 60 days to cancel really, for any reason, if they were concerned about their, their job, but in most, most of the U S we don't have that cooling off period, unless you're talking about condominium sales, in which case most states do allow for a period of time for condominiums.
So in Florida it's 14 days. Exactly.
Matthew Slutsky: Yeah. But I think that being able to add that onto the purchase that onto the online purchasing, even if it's something that a builder gives as a, um, [00:45:00] I don't know, a secondary warranty, or you could call them for purchasing online. I think something that is really important.
That's why, again, I forgot the name. Carmella. Not most like everyone does returns because it gives that comfort in the actual purchase. Again, it's different. You're not actually getting the whole moving in and they can return it, but at least it gives you some time to. Reflect on what you've
Kimberly Mackey: done, but in, well, I don't think this market is going to last forever, but in, you know, we have a super hot market right now.
We're builders are in bidding wars and, and offering limited release and throttling sales. So a buy now button. Does it make sense in this type of market where we don't want to hold back on something because we have too many people. I, there literally builders here who are saying, okay, we're releasing four home sites.
Come make us your highest and best offer. And that's how they're handling their sales throttling is they're just, you know, every couple of [00:46:00] months they're releasing a few homesites at a time and asking people to come bid on those home sites. But that, that
Matthew Slutsky: can work with online purchasing as well. I mean, again, it's a, it almost makes the, I've also always said to them again, to bring transparency to the market, but it brings democracy to the market.
It's no longer just, can your realtor, your VIP realtor, get you in the door. It's yeah, you want to buy, go online at this time, but you can get it. Um, and if you want, you can put an increased price, you can say, yeah, yeah. Put me ahead of somebody else. I'm actually willing to pay an extra thousand dollars for this.
I was hurting whatever you want. Um, but it saves the builder, the headaches of having to deal with lineups of sales centers, overcrowding, but even having to build these, you know, every market's different, but builder could spend a two to $5 million on a, on a sales pavilion. You could save on that and have a better experience for the purchaser because it's no longer just who, you know, in the VIP, it's it [00:47:00] democratizes it and allows you to do things like that.
Enter a worksheet and put your price on, and we'll select the highest price for
Greg Bray: this unit. All right then Kimberly to today's market scenario. You're right. Um, it may not make sense to push sales faster right now, but at the same time, if you called me this afternoon, say Greg, we're ready to put a buy now button on our website.
It won't be on there tomorrow. Okay. There's, there's a lot of work that goes, there's a lot of details that go into what needs to happen there. So is it the time to start thinking about it because today's market is not normal and it is not the new normal it is. It is. It can't be right. It can't, it can't be that now how long it will last, you know, who, who knows, but it's a great time because you ought to have a little extra cash in the marketing budget.
I would assume to start prepping for some of these things and. And maybe you're not ready for the buy now button, but you know what? Your photography needs to be better anyway, on your website, your, your [00:48:00] interactive floor plans need to be better. Anyway, your, all of your Matterport tours and your virtual tours need to be better anyway.
And all of those things help support that, that whole online purchase process. And if you don't even have that ready, you know, which frankly, a lot of builders don't, and I'm talking to you, people with those black and white stick drawings of elevations that, you know, come on now, at least get some color going on here.
Um, these foundational pieces you don't have to go from, from here all the way to there in one big step. There's a lot of supporting pieces that you can do right now that will help well into the future. That's a great
Carol Morgan: idea. Talk also Greg, about how the website becomes central to the sales process versus, you know, just a lead generation tool tool once you make this transition.
Greg Bray: So the, I, the idea there is, is again about kind of this data, consistency to the world, right? If, if someone can reserve [00:49:00] a lot right now, and there's only one of those, you know, there's only one, lot 10 in community AA, right? Um, you can't have somebody selling it in the sales center at the same time.
Somebody reserving it online, you know, it's gotta be in sync. So, so people all have to be looking at that same view of the world and what's available and what it costs. You can't tell your salespeople, Hey, we're raising lot premium five grand today because of demand. And it takes a week for the website to get that new price updated.
Okay. That doesn't, that doesn't work. Right. And or someone forgot to update the website. You're okay. You can't, you can't have that kind of disconnect. So. Well, we see a lot and, and kind of to Matthew's comment about data management and Excel sheets and everything too. We see the website when someone doesn't have kind of that back office infrastructure, the website kind of becomes the home of the data, um, because that's where people kind of bring it all together kind of naturally because in order to display it there.
And so at that point, making sure [00:50:00] that that everyone is looking at that same data and whether the website's the master copy or not is a question somebody's got to own the master copy, and everybody's gotta be seeing the same thing. And that's where that website really becomes just central to the whole thing.
If people, if the website is your key sales agent for a certain part of that process, they can't have different information than everybody else has. Sorry, I got on a rant. You push the button.
Carol Morgan: Well, what concerns might buyers have? About, you know, clicking that, buy now button, then some of the, I guess, privacy and security issues.
What do you think they're thinking,
Greg Bray: I think this, this ties into some of just online commerce in general, right? What, what does it take to get you, to put your email address into somebody's form? You know? Okay. What, what level of trust do you have to have there, or am I going to get spammed forever? You know, and then you start talking about putting credit card numbers in and, and mortgage [00:51:00] application type of personal information into, into a website where you don't know who's going to see it now, granted filling it out on a table in the sales center and handing it to some stranger.
You just met an hour ago, you know, and telling them your alimony payments and this payment and that payment and all your background of your whole life. Maybe they're more comfortable doing that at home on a computer. That's a little, feels, a little more distant. That's going to go straight to the bank, you know, type of a thing.
Um, but you need to reassure, first of all, you need to actually. Have some conversations in house, you know, does PCI compliance mean anything to you? What are, what is our data policy? Where is this stuff getting stored? Um, you know, if someone has to upload their driver's license picture, who's going to see that who has access to that information and how do we make people comfortable with what's going to go on there because there's, there are real hackers out there.
They work really hard, um, to, to get this right information. We hear about data breaches all the time. And if you're suddenly going to have this type of personal information in [00:52:00] your in-house database that you didn't have before, you need to, at least you talking about that and have some, some thoughts about how do we protect that?
How do we take care of it? And where does it make sense to store that? Or do we even want to have that? Do we just want to make that the bank's problem and we integrate directly with them because they deal with that, you know, more often, lots of different kind of thoughts and ideas to go with
Matthew Slutsky: there. Yeah, I think that there's a lot of compliance issues that have to be built in to actually do it.
I mean, and that, and again, I think it, again comes down to trust from wherever you're actually doing the purchase and who you're doing the purchase from. Um, and that is, I think another one of the major stumbling blocks is how to actually have a brand that, that can be recognized to be doing that in the proper way.
Kimberly Mackey: Another component of this is fair housing too. So, you know, actually I think going online could be the easier way to get to true [00:53:00] fair housing. So, you know, because it, the computer doesn't know any background or shouldn't recognize any of that. They just want to know, can you buy a home? Uh, and are you qualified to close on it?
You know, that's, that's the, that should be the algorithm, right? So this should be, this could be really interesting from a, from an ethics perspective as well. I think with,
Greg Bray: with the caveat, Kimberly, that there is still an online access disparity for certain gaps. I know. So, so if you go full online, You're now eliminating a certain portion of the market for, he doesn't have the same easy access.
Now again, maybe, maybe your price point already eliminates that portion of the market. I don't know. But yeah. Um, there, there's, there's some interesting things coming in that yeah. And this kind of universal equal act. I think the online schooling challenges of COVID have highlighted that dramatically for certain areas.
Um, and it's been really interesting to [00:54:00] see, you know, even, even in our school district, the difference between some schools and others that they've had to try and deal with. And, and some of the things that they've had to do, you know, where are my kids have good access, but some others don't. And so therefore the teachers can't do this or that, that they might like to, because of this virtual schooling that's going on.
So there, there's going to be some interesting, um, things to, to see if we can't get better internet to everybody.
Kimberly Mackey: Well, there's also the, the technologically challenged. So even if they have access, so, and, you know, I mean, we still have, you know, an, a, a population of people who did not grow up and, and technology is not second nature to them.
Uh, and they are active buyers in many cases. So, you know, so I agree. And I, I just don't, I don't think we go all one way or the other, in many
Matthew Slutsky: cases, those, those technologically advanced people are also the builders themselves,
Greg Bray: and you just offended how much of our audience,
Matthew Slutsky: I don't think it's offensive. [00:55:00] I think they, I think most builders are fine with it. They liked their processes. I mean, it's nothing wrong with that. If it's working well for them. That's awesome.
Kimberly Mackey: I, I think we have to keep the, the thing is I'm thinking forward on this.
And as we, we have to keep the high touch with our high-tech. Even if it becomes more, that that experience itself does become more online. You still have to have good customer support. You have to be able to have your questions answered. You know, there's nothing more frustrating for me with technology than when I can't get to a live person.
I, you know, I needed something from Microsoft. It took three weeks for them to call me back.
Matthew Slutsky: It that's one of the biggest issues is, you know, one of the key rules of a sales person in a, in a new construction is to find out what the objections are and to work through the objections. You just don't get those objections.
You don't hear what the real objections are when it's fully online. [00:56:00] And I think that is a major airy trail.
Greg Bray: Is anybody else old enough to remember the day where you would order something from a company's website and you could not return it to the store, you know, down the street. Yeah. I'm old enough to remember that, you know, and how annoying that was, that i