COVID-19 is affecting all of us at the same time.

Every industry has gone through a 45-day transition that has questioned everything and brought tremendous uncertainty to multiple sectors of the industry that has displaced workers, closed businesses, and transformed the way work and career are defined.

While there are still many unknowns right now, one thing we do know is that companies and brands that have embraced digital customer engagement and have put their customer first (leading with empathy) will be better positioned to weather this storm both currently and after this pandemic flattens out.

Spending my career in residential real estate for the last 12 years, it is my hope that I can help home builders and community developers during this extraordinary time to think about how to reach future residents in smart and informed ways. Working for a customer experience company, we talk about CX every hour of every day. Sometimes, it is the simple stuff that can be as impactful as the cool tech stuff.

With that said, I have put together a framework that I wanted to share. This resource will help our industry leverage this time working from home (not in model homes, not in welcome centers) to sharpen basic skillsets on how to connect with prospective buyers while enhancing their experience throughout the home buying journey.

This exercise focuses on the customer experience by connecting the buyer to the spirit of the community and/or surrounding area. When it comes to a community’s spirit, it is created through an individual’s experience and the emotional connection that is generated from their interactions. When the experience and connections are consistently positive and genuine the spirit can foster a positive community culture for those individuals that interact with it.

Grab a pen and paper, and let’s get started!
To begin, write down responses to the following questions based on customer experience as it looks today. We encourage you to think about how you have approached leveraging the community throughout the purchase process in the past.

There are no right or wrong answers, only honest self-reflection.

MPCs (Master Planned Communities) have more to offer than a place to live.

  • Through the lens of a prospective buyer, how would they find out information about the community?
  • Now, if you or your family were in the market for a new home, what would draw you to the community?
  • In what ways have you leveraged the community (amenities, events, surrounding area, etc.) to enhance the customer journey so it’s less of a sales transaction and more of personal experience?
  • Now that you have reflected on what experience is currently being created, below are three areas that you can use to help enhance and inspire future interactions with prospective buyers.

One family – Hundreds of options
Become a storyteller to the future “life” of the buyer and their family and help them get the most out of the whole purchase (lot section, floor plan, community, etc.).

  • Sharing experiences and connecting the buyer to the community helps them visualize what it would be like for their family to live there.
  • How they and their family can make new connections
  • How their current family needs (hobbies, activities, structure) can continue and possibly improve (commute, no more 3rd party gym fees, better schools, trail access, etc.)

Connect the dots for the buyer
Be a resource and knowledgeable of offerings in and around the community.

    • Within the community, are there events and programs, amenities, groups, etc. offered by the HOA and/or district? If so, how are you staying informed of the offerings? The same goes for city offerings and amenities: If the community has limited offerings or amenities, then research and leverage what the city offers. For example, if the city has a well-established farmer’s market or various festivals, be aware of these options and their timing.
    • Understand the community vision and speak to it so they can feel connected and a part of something bigger than themselves.

Foster a Genuine Connection

Leverage the community (the first two sections) to establish a relationship with the buyer.

Observe and understand their family dynamics and ask questions that would help you identify what brought them in.

Offer information about the community that would relate to their needs without being prompted.

Utilize previous buyers to share their experience and offer their stories.

What their relocation was like.

How they embraced or what they love most about the community.

MPCs (Master Planned Communities) are a place to thrive!

Use community offerings as a natural touchpoint throughout the selling process.

        • Share information about things that are happening in the community along with a note as to why you are sharing. If you are knowledgeable about what is going on in the community, identify ways to connect them to something that would interest them.
          Participate within the community offerings – be visible outside of the model! Sponsoring or volunteering at an event or program is an easy way to do this.
        • We hope this exercise allows you and your team to sharpen their customer engagement skills and refresh their minds on how to connect with prospective home buyers now more than ever. Let’s continue to leverage the community’s culture and thrive on the spirit of the community to bring the sales process to life even while we continue to socially distance ourselves and embrace the new normal.