National home builders throughout the United States all market their new homes in a similar manner. They place ads in the local newspapers announcing their homes for sale and how to get to their sales office. Once a prospective home buyer meets with the sales office they go through a presentation. These presentations vary from builder to builder but all prospective home buyers are ultimately provided with a brochure before they leave. These brochures typically include an artist’ rendition of the different home styles and their floor plans. The home builders provide these brochures to the buying public because it is a recognized and proven method of selling their homes.
In the early stages of construction (even prior to the models being erected) many homebuyers are able to make decisions as to which home they prefer to buy. In some cases, some buy homes based solely on this artist rendition and a detailed floor plan. Many home buyers get together at the end of the day sit and compare floor plans, sometimes imagining their furniture in each room. The most recent development is these same builders are now including floor plans on their websites as well. It is a basic yet effective marketing method to sell homes.
Incredibly in the re-sale market this marketing tool is completely abandoned? Check every home listing, Realtor website, home flyers, etc… and you will learn every detail about the home with the exception of a floor plan. At present absolutely none of these marketing pieces include a floor plan? Why you ask? We posed this question to a number of real estate professionals only to learn the following. Of those real estate professionals we asked, we learned of all the reasons under the sun as to why they chose not to utilize this proven marketing tool? All were glad to share their personal opinions or theories as to why it would not work for them, yet none of them had actually tried using it to sell a home! Go figure?
A paradigm shift in marketing homes will need to take place in today’s re-sale market. As homes take longer to sell in our current market environment it behooves home sellers to utilize every effective marketing tool necessary to differentiate their home from competing homes. The simple act of including a floor plan could accomplish just that. Unfortunately to date most home sellers will not be exposed to this marketing tool on the re-sale market. The handful of real estate sales professionals who are currently utilizing floor plans in their marketing, are benefiting as a result. It is another example of the 80/20 rule which is alive and well, where 20% of the agents are selling 80% of the homes.
A few small internet companies have emerged to meet this untapped need. Some provide an interactive floor plan utilizing photos within the floor plan itself, others provide photos that have a high quality 30 to 60 second commercial production within the reach of most real estate professionals and FSBO’s (For Sale by Owner) in terms of cost and ease of use.
I recently spoke with a homeowner who was so thrilled with her virtual tour with floor plan, she told me that “she had everyone in her office come to her computer terminal to see her home throughout the day”. A color flyer cannot create the same “Buzz” or emotional impact as these tours.
We are increasingly becoming a more litigious society. The number of forms and disclosures involved in the sale of a home continues to increase every year. Floor plans drawn by licensed professionals are known to reduce the liability real estate agents are exposed to. Simply scanning a floor plan from the builder brochure without their permission is unprofessional, and could possibly land those responsible in court for copyright infringement.
Unfortunately for home sellers many real estate professionals believe that by simply not stating or using sometimes unreliable public records for their listings they are off the hook from a potential lawsuit. Wrong!! Many real estate professionals mistakenly assume that tract homes are all the same, if this were true why are real estate appraisers required to measure your home when you are obtaining a loan to refinance or purchase?
In summary, If given the choice most home buyer’s would like to see a floor plan prior to visiting the home much like those clients that buy new model homes from national builders. In today’s market environment it is critical for home sellers to differentiate their homes from others they are competing against. At the present time, it is unlikely that the general public will be exposed to this form of marketing in the re-sale market unless they utilize the services of the 20% of the real estate professionals who currently do.