Finding the right homebuilding brand

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Living in Los Angeles, the second priciest city for renting, I have yet to purchase my first home. With an abundance of properties on the market and all-time low interest rates, is now the right time?

My heart’s set on a new house, so my first step is to find a homebuilder. Being your typical tech-savvy Generation Y woman, I look to the Internet. The problem is that none of the companies I find stand out. They all show interactive floor plans and promise energy efficiencies and affordable financing options.

To me, they all look the same. How am I going to choose? I don’t want to base my decision on which company has the coolest website or the most colorful brochure.

I’m most concerned about the daily and weekly interactions with the builder—in other words, what kind of customer experience will I have? I have absolutely no interest in dealing with the different vendors that will provide everything from the sheetrock to the appliances. But I definitely do want regular updates and progress reports.

If it’s an important decision—choosing a warranty, adding an outdoor deck—the details need to be in writing so I can review and digest. On the other hand, I’m fine with an email that the concrete has been poured or the bathroom tile has been delivered. The homebuilder I work with must understand how I want to communicate and do it in a clear and concise way.

Will the homebuilder I choose deliver on its promises? Unfortunately, I won’t know that until my house is being built. But I hope the company knows that if I’m unhappy, I’ll spread the word—both online and offline.

According to Nielsen’s recently released Global Trust in Advertising survey, seventy percent of consumers trust online reviews, and that figure has grown 15 percent in four years. I have the power to create a compelling and persuasive story about a brand. My homebuilder better keep me happy!

I’ll be even more vocal offline, talking to my colleagues around the water cooler or chatting with my mates at the coffee shop. And they will listen. And remember.

I’ll be the first to recommend any homebuilding company that shows that it cares before, during and after the sale. With a housing market that’s rebounding and a recession that’s passing, it’s no longer enough for homebuilders to just “stay in business.”

Buyers are back, but that doesn’t mean we will settle. It’s time for builders to consider their interactions with buyers, and think long and hard on how they will win our business.

Kristin Metcalfe is a marketing manager for Siegel+Gale’s Los Angeles office.

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