Model Home Makeover: A New Houzz, Builders Design Tie To Ease Buyer Angst
What if homebuilders' expensive model home infrastructure in communities everywhere worked as a network of lifestyle vignettes buyers and remodelers could click and buy? Voila! The future is now.
In a homebuyer's journey, a widely used term in architecture – the white architectural model, or "white model," for short – is a thing.
The homebuyer's journey, for most mortals, is a rollercoaster ride, dizzying, nerve-racking, up, down, and around. While a white architectural model has its uses in its field, in the emotionally-fraught ideating, seeking, ordering, buying, and moving-in cycle for homebuyers, white models have long been a source of one of the "downs" in the journey.
The "white model" phenomenon works like this. Prospective home seekers tour a builder's model(s), feel their pulses quicken and hearts go pitter-patter as they experience – in person or not – the lushly merchandised inside-and-outside-the-walls uplift. They breathe and feel the life they want to imagine for themselves; they put down their deposit, and they wait out the time it takes to finally settle on the home, take hold of their keys, and then, enter their home for the first time.
Then, it hits them. "This is not my beautiful house!"
It's a white model, a blank slate, an emotional downer.
And a huge opportunity, that homebuilders and their partner designers, smart home technology solutions providers, and other interior and exterior finishes manufacturers are finally recognizing as such.
Take, for example, a fully-baked venture our own Dream Team member, Joe Duffus, CEO of Builders Design, has formed with Houzz and Delaware-based McKee Builders. Here's how Joe describes the program:
This week, Builders Design and McKee Builders will be unveiling the first ever shoppable model home! This is a 3 way partnership between, Builders Design, Houzz, and McKee Builders. The model will be designed by a Houzz Design Pro. Essentially, this new experience will allow homebuyers and prospects, (via QR codes), to purchase any of the goods inside the model immediately! In addition, for the McKee homebuyers, they will have an opportunity to meet with a Houzz Design Pro, (for a cost), to help design their new home.
Not inappropriately, Duffus notes:
McKee has brought the home buying experience full circle.
Now, here's the high-level on the brilliance of this venture:
- Duffus and Builders Design group marketing advisor Jennifer Cooper's tie with Houzz effectively eliminates that longstanding "white model" downer feeling for a homebuyer, by giving her, him, them a turn-key, professionally conceived, fully-spec-ed, interior design plan for their new home. A win for the consumer – who by the way – have $5.4 trillion in global Covid-pent-up savings they'd like to spend to get a semblance of normalcy back into their home lives.
- The strategy also looks at how consumers in these "living-with-Covid" experience-economy days seek holistic solutions rather than isolated gadgetry and one-off fixes for their lives.
- Further, for builders and community developers, the Builders Design-Houzz partnership evolves a business- and capital investment model pivot, that transforms model homes into a dynamic extension of retail showcases. Here's where Lennar's Dave Kaiserman, president of Lennar Ventures, has led a transformative charge that could convert model homes from a cost center to a revenue and profitability opportunity for builder developers.
After all, the deep knowledge homebuilders and community developers harvest as they interact with, relate to, and win over – in the most expensive investment most people make in their lives – is a true goldmine.
Largely untapped. Until now.
"A person's home is the first and most-telling expression of his or her taste, and for most consumers that's a source of a huge amount of stress," says our Dream Teamer Joe Duffus. "Forever, we've been getting the question and builder sales representatives get it all the time from consumers who've toured the models. 'Just, please, tell me what the paint color is in that model.' Now, with our QR code, click and buy format that Frank McKee, Jr. is piloting, those consumers can access the Houzz Idea Book for every spec in the home."
Duffus notes that the program is not exclusive to homebuyers, but available as well to anyone touring the models as a prospect or tire-kicker interested in ideas for remodeling their existing homes.