It’s a familiar headline. One that is so often accompanied by news of record house prices and the age of a first time home buyer overtaking the age of a first time parent. It’s no wonder a recent study found that people rated buying a house more stressful than having a child.
With the answer seemingly rooted in constructing new homes - build fast, sell early - property marketing has a huge job to do to ensure that the approach reflects the new marketplace we find ourselves in. A marketplace of large scale developments and a sales funnel that often ends before the building in question even exists. Conversely, it’s a marketplace of long-awaited first homes, long dreamt-about sanctuaries and long saved-for deposits.
I like to think there is, and there will always be, a crucial place for the traditional marketing pack: the brochure promising nearby coffee shops and great transport, the floor plans guaranteeing open-plan living and space for a corner sofa. However, these assets can only have a certain impact on consideration at a top level – the show home is still the clincher. Yet in times when homebuilders need commitment earlier and earlier, property marketing hasn’t changed its model to address this in the digital space.
This is where the giant strides made in digital technology need to play a greater role. We’ve seen the first signs of Virtual Reality and 3D walkthroughs emerge in property marketing, but not yet at a truly commercial level where it can be leveraged to sell homes in quantity, rather than just at the top end. Visualising technology needs to work harder to sell off-plan properties to increasingly nervous and demanding customers, who want to truly understand what they’re buying. It is to be their biggest life purchase after all.
Today’s house buyer is more connected and more tech-savvy than ever. Since before the 2008 financial crisis, their relationship with digital has changed entirely. Ironically, buying a home is a very personal process and yet the process of buying a house just doesn’t live up to the experience that customers have come to expect from a big ticket item.
In short, there is a huge opportunity for the house builder who puts digital transformation at the heart of their communications strategy. That house builder will be the one that truly reaps the rewards over the coming years.
Lucy Hudson, McCann Business Director.