By BUILDER Magazine Staff Beazer customers should now have an easier time finding a home they love. Clicking on the "Advanced Search" button on Beazer's home page brings up the new Home Finder option, an online matchmaker that lets users rate up to 10 qualities they consider important in a home: price, number of bedrooms, lot size, access to hiking trails, and other options. It then asks them a series of interactive questions based on those choices.
Builder recently test drove the new service. Our priorities were lot size, price, and commute. We were asked several times to choose between pairs of hypothetical homes. Choices included a $225,000 home with a five-mile commute versus a $100,000 home with a 25-mile commute, followed by a $100,000 home with a 35-mile commute versus a $350,000 home with a five-mile commute. After rating five or six pairs, we were presented with a selection of homes with detailed specs. (We chose a $170,000, two-bedroom townhouse 8 miles from the office, close enough to bike on a nice day.)
Beazer has yet to collect hard data on the service's effectiveness. But according to Jonathan Smoke, vice president of information systems, salespeople are seeing more walk-in buyers who know just what home they want. When Beazer surveyed its customers, 80 percent said they would probably follow the software's recommendations. Because Home Finder asks users for demographic data, such as age, marital status, family size, and income, it will eventually help Beazer determine which homes will sell best in which markets.
The technology is provided by Online Insight in Atlanta. It charges a per-server fee, as well as a fee determined by the estimated number of site users.