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Too few new homes? Builders may have social media problem

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NEW YORK – Feb. 11, 2019 – Homebuilders‘ reputations on social media may be costing them business, suggests a new podcast from John Burns Real Estate Consulting.

“I believe that social media has become a major reason that buyers are not purchasing a new home,” notes Dean Wehrli, senior vice president at John Burns Real Estate Consulting. Social media is less effective if you view it as a cheap means to broadcast your message, he says. To succeed on sites like Facebook, he says, requires a commitment to actively engage with your audience.

Fifty-two percent of homebuyers shop for a property extensively online; 32 percent use search engines; and 15 percent use social media to find the home they want, according to the firm’s research. To make sure they’re not making a big mistake, potential buyers do their homework, and many likely look for a builder’s online reviews.

However, search engine results for most big homebuilders return scores of less than 2 on a scale of 1 to 5. While that’s not the case for every builder, bad reviews could be hurting homebuilders online.

John Burns found that one publicly traded builder had more than 800 online reviews and a website whose search results averaged a 4-plus rating – so a positive social media presence is possible.

“Builders clearly can do more to increase sales through effective social media,” Wehrli notes. “The industry has huge opportunities to improve what customers say about them online, which will almost certainly result in increased new home sales.”

In the podcast, Will Duderstadt, vice president of digital marketing at M/I Homes, spoke about social media use in the new-home business. He said stories resonate on social media, such as sharing the story of building a new home with a modern floor plan, energy efficient building codes and the latest finishes. He encouraged builders to look beyond Facebook and Twitter and consider posting photos at Houzz and Pinterest to engage visitors.

Duderstadt uses the metric of engagement rate to judge how well posts are performing and uses it to then guide future posts. The percentage of recipients who like or share what you post is most important, he said.

Source: “Is Social Media Hurting or Helping New Home Sales?” John Burns Real Estate consulting (Feb. 7, 2019)

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