“This is the greatest decision we’ve ever made as a company,” states Joshua Hulsey, sales manager at Perfection Builders, in Wichita, Kan. He is referring to his company’s recent integration of a unique suite of mobile device apps developed by NoviHome and geared to home builders to help them with tasks such as managing buyer status, sending progress photos, and adding notes for clients or prospects.
Also, using their smartphones, sales agents can easily track what and how often buyers viewed content on the NoviHome Buyer's App, which not only gauges buyer interest levels but sets the stage for targeted follow-up. “Customers can see company details, marketing material, community information, drone footage, floor plans, and any other content builders choose to feature,” says Jake Petersen, VP of sales at NoviHome.
Plus, it’s easy to use. “With your phone’s camera, take a picture of the QR code on the marketing materials and download the app,” Hulsey says.
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Mobile Apps: Home Builders Slow to Adopt the Technology
Yet, the building industry is still playing catch-up when it comes to creating and using mobile apps. “Many builders are still selling homes using marketing techniques from the 1990s,” such as paper brochures and even static websites, Petersen says.
Technology consultant, content creator, and industry podcaster Anya Chrisanthon, a member of Pro Builder’s 2022 Forty Under 40 class, agrees. “We went from being in a print world to having websites and now apps,” she says, though not everyone has fully engaged the digital world.
Chrisanthon recently joined Anewgo and uses its MyHome Website App, which allows clients to add items to a shopping cart from various resources rather than being taken directly to a vendor’s website—a one-stop smartphone shopping experience. “One of the biggest challenges we’re facing is that consumers still have to jump through hoops when it comes to buying a new home,” she adds. “They have to go to every single website and search for plans. Then they get 10 phone calls from 10 builders and can’t remember which is which.”
The integrated Anewgo app, she says, will not only allow them to pick up where they left off in the portal but also control how they want to complete the transaction, whether online or in person.
Powered by artificial intelligence (AI), the app will match consumer preferences to floor plan, exteriors/interiors, color scheme, and so forth. “It’s sort of like picking an airplane seat online,” she says. It also levels the playing field for smaller builders because consumers will be able to see all of the options that best fit their needs rather than just the ones from companies paying big bucks for keywords and meta tags for premium placement on a Google search.
Lasso, a leading customer relationship management (CRM) system for home builders and real estate developers, also will launch a new app this year “to help sales teams manage leads on the fly,” says Heidi Schroeder, senior consultant for Lasso and its parent company ECI Software Solutions. “Salespeople no longer have to work behind a desk or be chained to a computer or laptop.”
Because they can receive real-time information no matter where they are at any time of day, the new Lasso app will also allow for almost instant turnover of information, since the agent can get back to the customer almost immediately, she says.
Home Sales Help: Apps for Housing Pros
Other apps for housing professionals have been around a bit longer, and some have become part of the real estate vernacular, with 76% of buyers relying on a smartphone or tablet to search for a home, according to the National Association of Realtors. Here’s a sampling of available apps that can assist with the homebuying process:
- AtlasRTX – AI-powered chatbots engage customers in real time, from anywhere and in any language on platforms including websites, texts, and Facebook (Meta).
- BombBomb – A video email app allowing users to record and send videos directly to anyone from their computer or smartphone. “If you know how to send an email, you can send a video with BombBomb,” states the BombBomb website.
- Homesnap – Users can explore homes, search listings, and collaborate right from their phone, according to Investopedia. Realtors, teams, and brokers can view production metrics, agent rankings, and reports.
- Realtor.com – The portal for the National Association of Realtors, Realtor.com is also affiliated with the Multiple Listing Service (MLS), which allows for the most comprehensive, reliable, and up-to-date information, including property photos and history, as well as property tax information.
- Redfin – Both an app and a brokerage firm, Redfin offers lower listing fees, while providing local customized searches using affiliated real estate agents. Along with searching for nearby properties, users also book a home tour on the app.
- Trulia – Considered by Investopedia to be the most accurate app in terms of home values, Trulia, acquired by online behemoth Zillow in 2015, allows users to view everything from the actual property and demographics to crime statistics as well as nearby amenities, schools, and more.
- Zillow – Last but far from least, Zillow has a database of 135-plus million homes as well as information connected with listing agents. Users can get information on foreclosures, assistance with financing, and use filters to further customize searches.
“As we see more app-based programs, they will become even easier to use,” Schroeder says. “They will be game-changers.” And the games have already begun.
Sandra Gurvis is a freelance writer and author in Bradenton, Fla. She reported this story from the first annual New Home Sales+Tropical Retreat, a fun and informative event hosted by sales expert and coach Roland Nairnsey and Pro Builder Media. Register for the 2022 Retreat, Nov. 2-4, in Clearwater. Fla., at newhomesalesplus.com/retreat-2022.