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Presale REMIX: Home Edition

Struggling to sell inventory homes? This process will help!

The market has shifted again. Builders have been pivoting more in the past two years than ever. I have seen a lot of builders start moving towards spec builds due to supply chain issues. The supply chain issues and sourcing materials has been a nightmare and builders have chosen to remove the ability to design a home to protect their profit margins and set the price once they know what their costs will be (and know what products are actually going to make it into their homes). They are also reluctant to promise a delivery date until they get to about 90 days out and take a contract until a buyer can do a rate lock. There are so many variables happening today for our builders that they have to safeguard their business and give a better experience to their clients. When we over promise and can’t deliver, that erodes buyer’s trust and builder brand reputation. I am not here to get in an argument on whether or not offering spec homes is good or bad. I just know it is still happening at a great rate across the country and a lot of builders who would typically not offer spec homes are currently doing it.

If you are selling specs (aka quick move in, inventory homes, whatever your team calls it), I have a sales and marketing process you can follow that can help increase engagement, grow your interest lists, and get your homes sold when you are ready to release them. I used this type of process for new phase and community presales and you can apply it similarly to your spec homes.  

PRESALE PROCESS:

1. SPECING OUT YOUR NEW HOME
Determine what you are building, where you are building it, and what your budget is (elevation, floorplan, and structural options, lot number). If you use interactive color tools and floorplans like Anewgo, you can render those out and use the images for marketing. You can also mark a home site on your interactive map as a coming soon home with home, floorplan, and leave off the price. Where you would typically put a price, you would want it to say: Coming Soon. If you have previously sold specs or homes in the neighborhood, you may want to be sure your map is up to date and you update prices for what you sold homes for. This way, buyers have an idea of what homes are going for in this neighborhood, the cost, and start getting an idea of what they should expect (this is if you have built in this community before). 


2. SITE MAP UPDATES
Pricing a home usually will come later in this process, so being transparent on what your homes start at in this community or what this home will start at will help alleviate people signing up that can’t afford your homes. Mark the home as coming soon on your site map with minimal details.

3. START BUILDING YOUR VIP LIST
Your marketing for your coming soon homes can be a marketing email, a sponsored ad, a social media post, a targeted real estate marketing campaign, a sign in the yard where you are building, (or a combination of all of these things), etc. Start taking names, emails and phone numbers for this home and add them to your interest list. 

4. CRM MANAGEMENT and QUESTIONNAIRE:
When asking your prospects to sign up, be sure to add these names, emails and phone numbers to your CRM. You can also consider sending a questionnaire to learn more about your prospects once they sign up. As they sign up, an auto responder email can go out educating your potential buyers on what to expect, your process, and how often they will be hearing from you. In that autoresponder, you can have a link that says: Become a VIP: TELL US MORE ABOUT YOURSELF. This link can take your prospects to a webform (that can only be found if you have the link). The webform can ask your prospects questions like: Where are you moving from, are you pre approved, are you working with an agent, move in time frame, who will be buying the home with you, etc. You can ask as many questions as you want that will help you build a solid profile on our prospects. You will be amazed by how much information people will give you. Build an interest list like you would build a VIP list for a new neighborhood. 

5. REVIEW ANSWERS TO THE QUESTIONNAIRE
If people that joined your interest list filled out the extended questionnaire, review their information and make sure they are qualified for what you are offering. This will determine if they should stay on the VIP list for that home. If they don’t, you may have another home that might work better. Let them know and see what they think. 

6. DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
The size of the list will depend on you marketing, desired location, traffic, etc. It may be 2 people, it could be 250. If your list is smaller, be sure you are promoting via social media, your website, etc.

7. VIP ENGAGEMENT
Informing your VIPS on what is happening and keeping them engaged is so important. The person assigned to keeping prospects engaged can be your Online Sales Counselors or your Onsite agents. Send progress photos and any updates on the homes. This can look like a personal email but sent in mass from platforms like Lasso or Hubspot.

8.  CONNECT WITH LOCAL AGENTS:
Inform your local real estate agents about your upcoming home releases.  If you have approximate timelines, you can give that (but be sure to let people know they are loose and you may want to give them vague information like: Summer of 2022, etc. See if they want to add any clients to the VIP list.

9. INCLUDED FEATURES and FINISHES:
As you decide on flooring, cabinets, countertops, bathroom tile (and those items are delivered to your site), you can create a visualizer image with Anewgo’s interior visualizer, or create a mood board. This can be sent to your VIP list and local agents as an update on the home. Be careful to do this too soon. If you need to switch something out at the last minute, you do not want to be held to any of this information. Only send what you know has been delivered and is actually being put into the home. 

10. VIDEO TOURS:
As you get closer to the release of the pricing, keep your prospects updated on the progress of the home by doing a video tour. If you have a model of a previous floorplan that is the same or similar to your spec, tour that and talk about the differences. You may want to consider doing a virtual tour of the home that you are building through Anewgo. This can bring your architectural drawings to life and give prospective buyers a sense of confidence of what the home will look like when it will be complete.

11. PRICE RELEASE TO VIP ONLY:
Once you know the pricing, you may want to set a release date for selling the home. Contact your VIP list first and let them know the home will be released on x date and it’s time to schedule if they are interested in purchasing. They are VIP, so they get the first opportunity to meet with you and possibly purchase before you list it on the MLS on the release date. Hold meetings and tours approximately 5-7 (or more if needed) days before the release date. 
Be sure to remind your VIPs of your requirements that need to be ready to go if they would like to purchase. For example: Must have a pre-approval letter or statement of funds, hand money ready to go, no contingency, etc. Book as many meetings as you can.

The goal all along is to have a list of interested buyers that will buy as soon as they can.

Different builders will want to handle the VIP list in a variety of ways.
If you have too many people on the list for that home and still are interested once you get to the last step you can consider a few things:
1. First come, first serve. Sell to the person that schedules first and offers you what you are asking (and has all of your requirements completed).
2. Blind bid with your cost as the minimum.

3. A lottery for VIPs first.
4. Make an offer with a deadline date and the builder can pick the best one.

Whatever you decide, it should be clearly communicated as soon as you know how the selling of the home will go. You want to let real estate agents know, your VIP list know, and your builder sales and marketing team know what your process is to keep everyone on the same page. This should be determined before you add the home to your website. This will eliminate confusion and aggravation for everyone.

 The luxury of being on the VIP list is that they will have all the information first. This way, if there is not a huge list, you can sell it outright to that person. Creating a VIP experience gives people information, creates urgency, and that psychological feeling of missing out on something.
The goal is to build upon this and then sell or contract as soon as possible. With lead volume dropping, this will give you a process that can be duplicated across your communities and keep your team engaging with leads, selling your homes in a timely fashion, and keep sales momentum.

As the market keeps changing, you need to decide what you want your customer service and experience to be all while safeguarding your company. With this process you should be able to maintain profitability, create excitement and lead engagement while you are building your spec homes. The last thing you want is to try and find a buyer when the home is ready to be listed. You want a list of interested buyers as you approach that step in your process. 

Written by Sara Williams

Director of Sales at Anewgo

sara@anewgo.com

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