HOLLY SPRINGS, N.C., March 4, 2022 /PRNewswire/ — For the first time in history, a custom designed home has been sold through an online "buy now" offer. Harbor Homes partnered with Anewgo to make this possible, and buyers were able to pick their lot, personalize a floor plan, select their finishes, sign paperwork, and make a deposit on their own time, remotely. This exciting innovation is changing the way people buy new construction and opens homeownership to more people than ever before.
Historically new homes accounted for roughly 9% of all residential real estate purchases, climbing to as high as 15% of the market share in 2021. This increase is due in part to non-existing inventory of resale homes, as well as buyers’ desire to customize their homes since they’re spending more time at home post-COVID.
As high as 70% of all home buyers are open to buying new construction, but only a fraction of them do, largely because of how difficult it is to buy new homes, compared to used. New homes don’t exist, and most buyers have difficulty visualizing the final product. There are a lot of choices when it comes to finishes, and it can be an overwhelming process, especially if buyers can’t imagine how it will come together. Digital tools are important for home buyers, but they’re essential for new construction buyers. Consumers have come to expect HGTV experience which made visualizations and 3D tours popular, but most home builders are very conservative when it comes to incorporating this technology into their sales process.
Not Harbor Homes. Harbor Homes is a new kind of a home builder truly committed to making the home buying process easy, affordable, and fun. Located in southeast Wisconsin, the company was founded in 2018, and they built around 160 homes in 2021. Led by President Scott Thistle, who is on the mission to offer buyers similar experience to what they expect when shopping for other products online. "I’m trying to get ahead of the market with Harbor, both from a product standpoint and from a customer interface standpoint," Thistle said.
Harbor Homes rolled out BUY NOW feature and received their first offer just two days later. Buying new homes online is not a new concept – it’s been done by several home builders to sell their inventory homes. What’s different about Harbor is that this was the first transaction of a custom designed home online – down to selecting finishes and lot. "I had a certain house in mind, and it meant a lot to me to be able to explore it first. As a buyer, it’s nice to be able to play around without feeling any pressure until you’re ready to buy. It worked really well. It was seamless." – Sue Faust, Harbor’s first BUY NOW buyer.
Harbor partnered with Raleigh based martech company, Anewgo, specializing in proptech, to leverage interactive content, data analytics, and sales conversion tools to create seamless online shopping journeys for new home shoppers. "The main reason BUY NOW is meaningful is that it gives you immediate ability to transact wherever… Location is not part of the Equation. BUY NOW – it’s about Time, not Distance." – John Lee, CEO Anewgo.
Many question if BUY NOW spells the end of a salesperson, but we think it’s a tool which will enable them to do their jobs better. It allows salespeople to meet buyers where they are in the sales process and to engage them on a deeper level, serving as a trusted concierge. "I look at iDesign as my sales assistant. It helps the customer upfront and makes the process more efficient." – Sarah Petushek, New Home Sales Advisor at Harbor Homes.