When home builders are asked which information they deem most critical to the improvement of their businesses, info about new products is always near the top of the list. And for good reason.
Online Communities Specifically Help Builder-to-Homeowner Communication
Two Web-based services, LifeAt and PCM iAccess, offer a new way for home builders, property managers and homeowner associations to connect with residents.
Looking for a better way to establish an online community with your customers? The Web now has options catering to builders, including LifeAt, a virtual communication platform, or iAccess, a Web portal that allows builders to upload warranty documents and communicate directly with homeowners via customized Web sites.
The key difference: LifeAt allows residents to talk to each other; iAccess doesn’t. That’s probably because LifeAt was originally designed for apartment and condominium buildings in big cities where residents were looking for ways to connect. But LifeAt CEO Matthew Goldstein believes his business model can be applied to any residential community (visit www.lifeat.com). “We’ve started to expand into the suburbs, and it’s working as well there as it is in the high-rises,” says Goldstein.
The iAccess portal was developed by Professional Community Management of California, one of the nation’s largest managers of homeowner associations. “The cost-effective way to communicate with homeowners is through iAccess,” says Donny Disbro, PCM’s vice president of new business and marketing.
|Sites created for 460 properties in 12 states and three countries (60% condol/40% rental)||Sites created for 150 communities in Southern California (all for-sale housing)|
|Each site is custom-designed||Each site is custom-designed|
|Private and password-protected except for certain listings that target prospective residents||Private and password-protected except for some sections that target prospective buyers|
|Cost: $1 per unit per month; first three months free (no sign-up fee)||Cost: $100 per community per month for hosting and maintenance|
|Message board for resident-to-resident chats; they can also post personal profiles and photos of themselves||No homeowner-to-homeowner interaction|
|No video capability||Can stream video for property tours|
|Property managers can post announcements and updates about maintenance work and vacancies||Builders, developers and HOAs can upload warranty manuals and post announcements about maintenance work, board meetings, events, etc.|
|Primary benefits to residents: social networking; ratings and reviews of neighborhood businesses and services; free classified ad postings; ability to communicate with property manager about repairs||Primary benefits to residents: notification of meetings, events, maintenance work and community guidelines; documentation of maintenance and service requests|
|The LifeAt website (above left) allows residents to communicate with their neighbors. Using iAccess (above right), each community can set up an exclusive site that quickly delivers vital information to homeowners.|