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Housing Can No Longer Lag In Innovation

Take a look at any industry and you will see massive change and innovation over the past decade. The building industry? Not so much. The construction sector needs to catch up quickly. Here’s where to start.  

My forthcoming book, Housing 2.0: Home is Where Life Happens, takes a hard look at the housing industry relative to components such as sustainable development, design, high-performance, quality, and sales.

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The key message for all builders is that there are profound opportunities to improve the new home buyer consumer experience with every key component: Sustainable communities can dramatically improve opportunities to engage neighbors and protect future value for each resident. Designs can much better reflect how we live in homes and integrate key systems. Performance can transform our comfort, health, and peace-of-mind far beyond current practice. Construction quality can ensure superior technologies along with fewer defects and waste. And the sales process can turn each home buyer into a customer for life. 

The truth is, as Daniel Burrus said in his book Flash Foresight, “If it can be done, it will.” He suggests that all industries are experiencing accelerating change, and if there is a better solution, it will be rolled out. (Think Apple, Amazon, Starbucks, Chipotle, Southwest, Google.) 

One of the primary reasons for accelerated change is addressed in Daniel Pink’s book, To Sell is Human. It details the current transformation from information inequality (where the buyer knows much less than the seller) to information parity (where the buyer knows as much as the seller). If there is a better experience or product, this fact will spread exponentially faster among consumers than it did just a few years ago. 

In recent years, the number of home buyers searching the web before shopping a builder increased more than 250 percent. Today, more than 90 percent of all buyers search the web for their shortlist of builders to consider.

On top of this, there has been a huge increase in content about the home-buying experience. Simply messaging about location, price, and floor plan isn’t enough. Consumers now have access to a whole array of information about home builders including:

  • Professional home builder reviews.
  • Buyer reviews.
  • Advertised selling prices vs. actual selling prices.
  • Costs of popular upgrade features. 
  • Length and coverage of warranties.
  • Pending litigation.
  • Call-back repair records.
  • After-sales service programs.
  • Special recognition labels for green, energy efficiency, health, water conservation, and disaster resistance.
  • Regional and national awards for excellence.
  • Comparative energy efficiency based on HERS Index scores.
  • Actual utility billing data.

Housing can no longer sit on the innovation sidelines. The major components of housing are ripe for change, and new consumers, particularly the rising millennials and Gen Zers, crave innovation. Maybe most important about the “If it can be done, it will” business model is its corollary: “If you don’t do it, someone else will.” 

Want to learn more? Join my ongoing Housing 2.0 Program, a roadmap for the future that empowers building professionals to design and construct higher performance, healthier, more sustainable homes at a fraction of the cost.