BUILDER’s new concept home project, The Responsive Home, is being developed as a demonstration of what millennials are looking for in a new home—and how they want to shop for it.

Based on extensive research from Ketchum Global Research and Communications, project planners discovered that young consumers want their home buying experience to include a digital experience. When the Responsive Home debuts to the public during the 2016 International Builders’ Show in January, Avid Ratings will showcase its newly released home tour technology. The downloadable GoTour app will bring the project’s two model homes to life both onsite and offsite. 

Responsive Home Partners

Builder: Pardee Homes, a member of TRI Pointe Group

Architect: Bassenian Lagoni 

Creative Director: Bobby Berk with Bobby Berk Home 

Landscape Architect: AndersonBaron

PR Firm and Research: Ketchum Public Relations, Ketchum Global Research & Analytics

In the onsite experience, visitors will hold a small digital tour guide device that shows off particular features in the homes. GoTour uses iBeacon technology that allows the device to pick up frequencies from small electric transmitters strategically placed throughout the houses. Each electronic transmitter costs roughly $50 and lasts for about three to five years. The 1-inch-long “beacons” will be placed in inconspicuous spots, such as under cabinets. Each beacon can tell the device to play a video or point out a particular feature.

Although it’s being showcased within the Responsive Home project, the technology is available now to builders across the country, says Avid CEO Paul Cardis.

“It’s like having your own personal guide, but also having a kind of heads-up display of what’s relevant per room. That’s all programmatic for the builders so they can decide what is shown,” Cardis says. “For example, maybe you’re using special insulation. While [prospective buyers] are in the house, in the room, they can’t see the insulation behind the wall. But you can have a video that comes up and says ‘Learn What’s Behind the Wall.’”

A unique component to this technology that other virtual tour services don’t provide is online shopping. As users are touring the home via the app, different finishes will be highlighted so users easily can identify the product as well as any upgrade options that may be available. Many Avid clients are already using the technology.

“When customers are walking along, they don’t have to go through a long laundry list like they do today,” Cardis explains. “They can click on the faucet and know that’s the standard one, see the details, and read the warranties. They can see everything that’s standard or included and then see what’s available in terms of upgrades.”

Builders also can catalog available products by cost so prospective buyers aren’t caught off guard when the options they like will cost an additional $10,000. They can color-code the options or categorize them by numbers or letters.

“We have found that level of transparency has increased overall option sales by 11% for our builders that have engaged it, which is a big deal because that’s a profit center,” Cardis says.

Buyers can select the upgraded options they like most and GoTour will export the list of products to the builder’s design center. The catalog also features real-time updates so products that are changed or discontinued won’t show up on builders’ available options. 

The offsite experience is very similar. It offers a simple virtual tour of the home that allows users to see every nook and cranny in high definition, and the interactive pieces and online shopping from the onsite tour also will be available in the virtual tour. 

At first there might be a fear that “tour guide” technology will take the place of the interaction each buyer has with a salesperson, but Cardis says that isn’t the case. He argues technology has actually increased sales and the need for qualified salespeople.

“I don’t think technology takes away the need for people,” he says. “What it does is give control to the consumer for them to self-discover. That’s something very relevant to today’s selling environment. If they don’t have the opportunity to self-discover, then they’ll be turned off.”