At some point, usually early in the search for a new home, most shoppers will visit several home builders’ websites. These sites are extremely helpful, and they highlight many things that shoppers should consider as they start their search. In addition to the beautiful pictures or new homes and communities, there are some other very important parts of the builder’s website you’ll want to make sure you notice.

Most home builder’s websites are broken down into a few important sections. The first page you’ll encounter is called the Home Page. A builder’s home page is a carefully crafted virtual “storefront” that is designed to give you an attractive overview of the builder’s brand and Unique Selling Proposition (USP). Home pages use a strategic combination of text, images, and sometimes video, to create an exciting depiction of the lifestyle the builder offers and create an emotional connection between you and that builder. Take note of the images and text. Do you identify with the lifestyle depicted? Is the text appealing? Does the overall layout speak to you in a meaningful way? Is the video clean, well-produced, and professional? All of these are an indication of how the builder approaches their product and communities. If any of them seem out of place or “rub you the wrong way,” this builder is probably not for you, and you should move on to the next builder. If the imagery and “look and feel” of the page align with your wants and needs, you can move deeper into the website to learn more. Let’s face it, the website is the place where everything is perfect, and like they say, “If you don’t love it in the store, you won’t like it in your closet.” Take careful note of how you feel about what you see, hear, and read as you visit a builder. If everything doesn’t line up just right with your dreams, it’s probably best to move on to other builders in the area.

If you like what you see on the home page, you’ll be able to move on to other sections of the website. Some of the choices you’ll have on a builder’s home page address the communities where they build homes, contact information, warranty claims, and a section about the builder or the team. Learning a little about the builder and how they run their business, and how long they’ve been building in the area may be helpful, especially if you’d prefer to have a local builder. You may also choose to move on to some of the community pages. These pages specifically represent the neighborhoods in which the builder sells homes. If the builder you’re considering is a national builder or a production builder, you may have to select a state, city, and area in which to search. Many builders have maps on their home page to assist you with this, others have dropdown menus that will direct you to the appropriate web page. Local builders also have maps, and some that are smaller, just have a menu with community names and the cities where the community is located. In each case, you’ll have to travel deeper into a builder’s website to get to the area where you can evaluate one or more of the builder’s communities that are located in the area or city where you want to live. Having selected the area, you’ll then be presented with a list of communities in that area where the builder has homes for sale. This can be represented by pins on a map or a listing. You’ll notice that each community has a name such as Willow Ridge, West Oak Trails, etc. Clicking on one of these communities will navigate you to the “community page.” This page does the real heavy lifting for the builder. It’s also the page where you’ll make the most critical decision you’ll make at this stage of your search: Will you continue this relationship with the builder, or will you end it right here?

The community page is where you’ll learn the exact location of the community, the price range of homes in the community, contact information for the community salesperson (called the on-site salesperson), and any amenities the community offers residents. You’ll learn about schools, shopping, travel times, restaurants, places of worship, and any other positive information the builder thinks will help you move ahead with them. This page should have pictures and videos about the community featuring homes, facilities, and even home buyer testimonials. Finally, you’ll also be able to look at available homes that the builder has completed that are ready to buy, a map of the community, and all the floor plans that the builder offers in this community. I call the community page, the “money page” for both the builder and the shopper because this is the page where the builder starts to make money with potential customers, and the shopper has to decide if they want to spend money and resources getting to know the builder better.

The community page is the single most important web page a builder has. It is where they gauge home shopper interest and where they convert shoppers to leads. Shoppers register for more information with builders based on the community pages. Take careful note of everything on a builder’s community page. If you don’t like what you see on the web, chances are you won’t like what you see in person.