You’ve started shopping for a new home on the internet. You’ve registered with a few builders and new home websites, and now, your email inbox is filling up with emails from what seems like every builder in the city! You probably didn’t expect it, and now, you’re not quite sure what to do. Here’s a little insight into how builders and developers handle online inquiries or registrations.
Builders have several ways of getting information about people that may want to buy a home, and a few ways of reaching out to these people. Builders have automated email campaign systems and personal follow-up campaigns they use to reach out to prospective buyers. Once you register with a new home search site or with a builder, your name is dropped into the “marketing bucket,” and you become part of the builder’s automated marketing campaign. The first week following your registration with the builder, you’ll receive several emails. The first will be a personal (in most cases) email from what most builders call an “Online Sales Counselor.” Other titles for this position are Online Concierge, Greeter, and OnLine New Home Specialist. The primary goal of this campaign is to determine, by your response, if you’re a “ready buyer,” meaning, one that will buy in the next thirty days. Builders do not want to lose an opportunity to engage a buyer that wants to buy quickly. If you respond positively to the Online Sales Counselor’s email, they will attempt to get you to set an appointment at a community with one of their salespeople as soon as possible.
At the same time you receive the Online Sales Counselor’s email, your email address will be entered into the builder’s automated email campaign. These campaigns are programmed to send all email addresses a series of emails that welcome buyers, thank them for their interest and then systematically deliver information about new homes, communities, available homes, and promotions that the builder has. Initially, these campaigns are pretty intense. The first week following your registration with the builder, you’ll receive several emails. As time goes on, you’ll get emails less and less frequently until you’re only receiving one email a month from the builder. These campaigns can last from three months to one year. Almost every builder uses these automated campaigns to reach out to shoppers. The purpose of a builder’s automated campaign is to keep the shopper up-to-date on information to make sure the shopper knows enough about the builder to have them reach out to the builder in the future when they are ready to purchase. If you respond positively to any of these emails, the builder’s Online Sales Counselor will reach out and attempt to secure an appointment with you and one of their onsite salespeople.
If you’ve included the name of the community you’re interested in on your registration sheet, a builder will reach out to you in two additional ways. Initially, the onsite salesperson from the community in which you’ve expressed interest will reach out to you to determine (again) if you’re a “ready buyer.” If there is a change that you’re going to buy a home in the next thirty days, a good salesperson will do their best to get you to come out to the community and take a look at the homes.
Your email from the onsite salesperson will generally include any promotions that are going on in the community and special deals on any inventory homes that they have to sell. If you’re planning on buying in the next thirty days, it would be a good thing to take a look at the available homes. If you do not respond to a salesperson’s email, chances are they’ll stop sending them after one or two attempts. If the builder has automated email campaigns that are specific to that community, you’ll be included in those campaigns, and you’ll start receiving emails about that community in hopes that whenever you are ready to buy, that builder and the community will be at the top of your interest list.
If you’ve included your telephone number on your registration form, you should plan on immediately receiving a call from both the Online sales counselor and the onsite salesperson. If you’ve registered with several, plan on your phone ringing steadily for the next couple of days!
If you’re ready to buy, and you want to get all the information you can, respond to the emails with information regarding your price range, your time-line, and what you’re looking for in a new home. Once you’ve responded, the goal of the sales counselor will be to get you to come out to the community. You can certainly do this if you’d like, or you can let them know that at this stage of your shopping process, you’d prefer to do as much of it over the internet and through email as possible. Ask for any information you need, such as floor plans, available homes, and any incentives or discounts that builder is offering, and then let them know that you’ll get back in touch with them when you’re ready. Some builders will get this information to you, and others may not consider you a real buyer and ignore your request. The more information you’re willing to give at this point, the better the response from the builder will be. If you don’t have a home to sell, are prequalified, are getting out of an apartment lease in the next six months, or are working with a real estate agent, this will help the builder get you more relevant information. If you’re not ready to let the builder know these things, they should still take you very seriously. Take note of those that are the best to work with at this stage of your process, as it is probably a good indicator of how they treat their customers all through the process.
The easiest way for you to control the new home shopping process is to conduct early conversations through email for as long as you can. This allows you to ask for and receive the information you need at this stage and get back with the builder when it’s convenient for you. You’ll also be able to get a pretty good idea of how the builder conducts part of their business. If you’re concerned at all about any part of your dealing with a builder at this point, you may consider eliminating this builder from your list of “possible.” Conversely, since well over 95% of a builder’s emails never get a response, many builders take inquiries from shoppers extremely seriously and look at these as special opportunities to create relationships with people. Most builders will make you feel great about reaching out to them. Give these builders special consideration as you move toward the purchase of your new home.