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Homebuyer Expectations: Research Report

Expectations are going one direction

How do you get your groceries delivered? Did you meet your partner on an app? What about work? Do you use at least one productivity tool or collaborative messaging service? You have a smart phone right?

We’re guessing you answered yes to at least one of those questions. Probably more than one. The fact is, we are surrounded by gadgets and services that make our (fairly hectic) lives a bit easier. And we’ve come to expect things to customized and personalized, convenient and on-demand. People’s expectations of companies have gone straight through the kitchen skylight. Salesforce tracks customer expectations and their effect on businesses for many years. Among the stats they track, three stand out—especially for home builders.

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66% of customers expect companies to understand their needs and expectations
62% of customers say their experiences with one industry influences their expectations of others.
84% of companies that invest in customer experience see an increase in profits.

To see how this affects home builders, Virtuo conducted a survey among recent homebuyers (2022-2023). We discovered that, yes—these buyers also seek out the best experiences possible. But we also found out what they struggle with and what they are looking for. Reading this report will help you know and meet those high expectations.

Homebuyers expect a lot from companies.

Q1. How much does the statement “How a company treats me has a big impact on me” describe you?

About 2/3rds of recent home buyers strongly or completely agree that how they are treated by a company has a big impact. We can certainly assume there is a correlation between how big of a purchase someone makes and how big the impact is. If nothing else, home buyers will have multiple interactions with home builders over the course of their purchase. So, there are multiple opportunities for the buyer to be treated extraordinarily well.

Pie chart: 8% said "not at all", 26% said "somewhat" and 66% said "strongly".

Homebuyers want support. Great, easy support.

Q2. How much does the statement “These days I expect companies to provide great, easy support.” describe you?

Again, about 2 out of 3 recent home buyers tell us they not only want great, easy support from the companies they do business with—they expect it. This may be at the heart of the expectations gap that so many businesses face: it’s not just that customers respond well to good support. Rather they show up ready for you to provide them with great, easy support. Not doing so cuts against what they—simply, fairly—think should be provided.

Pie chart: 5% said "not at all", 30% said "somewhat" and 64% said "strongly".

Win with homebuyers by anticipating their needs, and exceeding their expectations.

Q3. How much does the statement “I appreciate it when a company anticipates my needs” describe you?

The flip side of the expectations gap is the amazing opportunity it presents for companies. Even if customers expect something, they still appreciate it when they get it. It does not go unnoticed. The best way to do this is by anticipating the customer’s needs and being there at the right time (with an awesome solution). This is why so many companies—homebuilders included—invest in tools and partners that understand key elements of the buying process and can help them deliver great experiences.

The big prize for delivering an amazing experience? Referrals.

Q4. How much does the statement “If a company treats me well, I am more likely to recommend them” describe you?

We should be clear: providing a great customer experience is a reward in and of itself. However, we also know that 71% of recent home buyers say they will reward good companies with that most precious asset: referrals. This is increasingly important in tough market conditions when new buyers may be scarce and the word of a friend is the most impactful message that can possibly be delivered.

Pie chart: 6% said "not at all", 23% said "somewhat" and 71% said "strongly".

Strategy: meet their expectations where they feel the most challenged.

Q5. Thinking about maintaining a home, how challenging do you find the following tasks?

home maintenance difficulty bar graph

A key strategy for meeting customer expectations is to focus on the particular tasks they find most challenging. Not surprising, the most challenging home task for recent home buyers are sudden and immediate needs. But also significantly taxing on their time (and stress level) are the other bigger issues facing them: seasonal needs, finding contractors and focusing on longer term improvements.

What they don’t find as challenging are the normal, everyday tasks like maintaining appliances or making smaller improvements to their home (like painting a wall). It’s not hard to imagine this what buyers expected when they bought a home.

Builders and other suppliers should seek ways that they can help homeowners—especially new homeowners—with all of these tasks. Buyers will look to brands for these kind of services, which creates a great opportunity to build a strong relationship.

Expectations shift across generations.

Percentage of respondents agreeing that tasks are "somewhat" or "very" challenging, by age group.

Home maintenance difficulty by age bar chart

It should be noted, though, that knowing your customer remains the best strategy. Not all age groups feel the same way about the same things. Older recent home buyers are most likely to see finding contractors as a challenge, but less likely to see sudden issues as a challenge. Understanding is always the first step toward building a consumer-centric buying experience strategy.

Delight your homebuyers by providing end-to-end support through their entire home buying journey.

#1 challenge: Finding Movers. Moving, Packing materials.

Q. Thinking back to when you first moved into your home, what is ONE THING that would have made transitioning to a new home and community easier?

Help with move in logistics (access to movers, supplies, utility transfer).

#1 identified opportunity to win with Millennials, GenX, $100k household income buyers)

51% comfortable talking about a
positive experience with others.

Majority of buyers feel comfortable sharing positive experiences with others after a positive move-in experience.

Research from one of our key building partners identified moving in as the number one challenge experienced among a set of highly valuable customers: Millennials, GenX, $100k Household Income buyers. Answering that challenge with support finding movers, getting supplies, managing the move and getting all services and utilities transferred is the top opportunity for builders.

The study went on to affirm that the majority of these buyers feel comfortable telling others about positive experiences they have with builders. This report draws a clear line between support through the move and driving referral traffic and leads.

Virtuo works with home builders, realtors, financial institutions, and insurance providers to deliver exceptional experiences for their customers. Learn more

About the author

Gary is the CMO of Virtuo. He has deep experience in marketing and advertising, having built strategies for brands including Nike, Virgin America, Oakley, and Google Cloud. He knows how to juggle.