Homebuilders May Have a Social Media Problem

February 8, 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 cheaper means to broadcast your message, he says. It requires a commitment to actively engage with your audience.

Fifty-two percent of home buyers 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. Potential buyers are doing their homework, likely plugging in the builder’s name to look for reviews on social media.

However, search engine results for most big homebuilders return scores of less than 2 on a scale of 1 to 5. While that is not the case for every builder, the John Burns podcast notes that bad reviews could be hurting homebuilders online. The firm 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 how to use social media 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.

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