Today’s consumer expects to play a more active role in the purchase choices that they make. A home is perhaps the most financially costly of all purchases for the majority of buyers, and – now more than ever – they expect that what they buy should be on their own terms. Cultural changes resulting from the rise of e-commerce and social media have created a new breed of the empowered consumer, a consumer who prefers to be treated as an individual and for their purchases to reflect their individuality. Their home is the pinnacle of this expression of individuality. It is up to those working within the industry to step up to the plate, to use new technological developments and strategies, and deliver unique, quality homes bespoke to each individual buyer.
Buying property off-plan has always been a bit of a rocky road, for the developer, marketer and buyer alike. The property marketer and sales team have the unenviable job of selling a product that doesn’t yet exist, and the developer has the nail-biting need to get the properties sold in order to justify the project in the first place. The potential buyer of an off-plan property is effectively asked to take a leap of faith, hoping that the property they’ve seen only in images and blueprints lives up to their expectations.
It is this latter point that throws a spanner in the works of the home buyer’s customer journey, but it is a problem that is now far easier to solve. When buying a property that’s entirely new, still in the process of being built, there is a great opportunity for developers to go one step further for buyers, to offer them active input into their property choice. Technology that allows customers to play a central role in the creation of their dream home is already here, and it is time that property developers and marketers made the most of it.
BIM (Building Information Modelling) has been around for years. Architects already use BIM software as standard when designing and visualising property. But recently, with more sophisticated technologies available, the power of BIM has begun showing promise beyond the drawing board. It is now possible to create accurate and realistic 3D visualisations of off-plan units, which can be viewed either on screen or via virtual or augmented reality.
This is a great opportunity to overcome buyer reservations over whether an off-plan property will live up to expectations. Prospective buyers can now see exactly how a property will look before it has been built, a boon for marketers and developers as it facilitates the movement of the buyer into the sales funnel. For buyers, it raises enthusiasm and gives them a feeling of security in their choice of property that may otherwise have been lacking.
Visualising the property itself is, however, just the tip of the iceberg as to what can be achieved here. Not only can buyers see the property in 360 degrees before a single brick has been laid – they can also customise the property to their specifications from the earliest stage, right through to after they move in, where factors like snagging can be remedied in a timely and individualised manner.
This is what we do at GBuilder. With our software, the buyer can be presented with a variety of customisation options that the developer is able to offer: a choice of colours, materials and finishes for various aspects of the property. They can test these different options within the 3D visualisation, or through a VR headset, settling on their preferred choices which are then fed through to the construction team for integrating into the build. Good for the buyer, and great for the sales team, who are given the opportunity to upsell on each unit of the development. Once the buyer has decided on their options and ordered their custom upgrades, they are able to share the visualisation of their new home with friends and family.
The benefits of such software go beyond the buyer and the sales suite. The real-time use of BIM-based information benefits all stakeholders within the development, from the builder and subs to the work site and beyond. The builder, for example, is offered real-time access to the actual material configurations that go into the building process, as well as punch lists, room cards, orders and quantities. Correct and up-to-date information is always available in one, centralised location, accessible on multiple devices simultaneously – even from mobile.
Customer experience, when buying property off-plan, should be a delight. When selling a product (i.e. a property) that is not tangibly available to view at the point of sale, it is crucial that we explore ways to excite and capture buyers’ imaginations. Customisation, as a concept alone, is a very persuasive strategy – and where you can go above and beyond, not only to suggest what could be done with a property, but actually make the buyers’ dreams come true, you place yourself front and centre of your industry.
Delivering a valuable customer experience begins on the building site, and with a cohesive platform that’s updated in real-time for all stakeholders to use, the building process is facilitated beyond any level previously possible. Accuracy, speed and efficiency are optimised, allowing completion to be achieved to a higher level, faster, ultimately maximising customer satisfaction with their finished home.
One cannot overestimate the value of delivering an ideal customer experience, and in a world where buyers want their own way more than ever, it is crucial that we are ready and waiting to give it to them.