By Bruce Smith
HomeBuilder.com, the NAHB's official new-homes listing Internet site, is creating and hosting free Web sites for one year for all NAHB builder members who construct 25 or fewer homes per year.
Launched at this year's International Builders' Show, the "Groundbreaker" program, which is designed to help smaller builders compete in today's fast-paced, Internet-enabled market, is off to a great start. To date, more than 1,300 small-volume and custom builders have signed up and are getting sales leads from prospective home buyers searching for custom builders on HomeBuilder.com.
This is a great opportunity for builders to get attractive and professionally designed Web sites for their companies and to market their services on the Internet.
Custom home builders account for more than 30 percent of the U.S. housing market, yet we've found that they do not have much of a presence in the booming e-commerce marketplace. The Groundbreaker program is designed specifically for small-volume and custom builders who want to leverage Internet technology and online marketing tools to gain a competitive edge.
It is also an important step in the NAHB's long-term strategy to build a virtual association and connect the entire federation via a single Internet portal. Making sure that members are comfortable using the Internet for business purposes, have Web sites, and have e-mail addresses is critical to developing and ensuring the success of our virtual association.
Since the NAHB signed its operating agreement with HomeStore.com in June 1998, the company's network of sites--which includes HomeBuilder.com and Realtor.com--has become the top choice for consumers searching on the Internet for new and existing homes. Upwards of 8 million unique users visit the network each month, so builders who take advantage of this offer have the potential to showcase their company to a vast audience.
To join the Groundbreaker program, builder members will be required to fill out and sign a one-page service agreement and provide the necessary information, photographs, etc. required to construct the builder's Web site. Once the information is received by HomeStore's corporate office, it will take about
30 days to construct the site and put it on line.
Meanwhile, HomeBuilder.com's other major search path, designed specifically for subdivision and spec builders, continues to gain in popularity. This section of the site includes 630,000 model and spec homes, floor plans, lots, and Web sites from about 18,000 builders in 3,000 markets around the country. During 2000, more than 300 million homes were viewed on HomeBuilder.com, and builders received more than 450,000 leads from their listings on the site.
If you're a small custom builder and haven't yet taken advantage of this fantastic offer from HomeBuilder.com, I urge you to consider it. This is a great, risk-free way to take advantage of a great new technology and use it to benefit your business.