In the high-stakes world of home buying and selling, understanding the path to a purchase is both an art and a science. SmartTouch Interactive, an Austin-based digital marketing solutions company specializing in real estate, recently analyzed four years of data on new home sales after working with home builders across the country.

The analysis showed that the average home buyer requires 52 touchpoints, spanning from initial research to contact with a realtor/home builder to actual purchase. It also allowed the SmartTouch team to pinpoint key buyer attributes, such as how long home buyers spend researching before getting serious, how to know when a new home buyer is ready to enter the market, and what to do when they engage on email/website/social channels.

Here, BUILDER talks with Robert Cowes, SmartTouch Interactive president, about the results of the study.

What were your top findings?
·         There’s an average of 52 touchpoints from first inquiry (like a form submission) to closing on a new home.
·         If one sales person sells two homes per month, that’s 24 buyers per year x 52 touch points = 1,248 touch points a sales person has to manage in a year. And that doesn’t include all of the other inquiries and contracts that cancel.
·         For SmartTouch clients participating in CRM analysis, a buyer will visit a community an average of five times, in person, before signing a contract.
·         Average time from first inquiry to close was six months for primary residence and 15 months for second homes.
·         80% of SmartTouch client’s buyers registered online by submitting a form before going to the community.
·         Those builders who send targeted drip email campaigns to nurture online leads get an incremental 20% increase in on-site traffic compared those to who are not doing lead nurturing campaigns.

How did you determine the amount of touchpoints in a single home buying transaction?
We analyzed the “note type” and “to do” history for approximately 200 buyers who had closed between 2013 and 2015, corresponding to 10 new home builders and developers.  We charted each type of touchpoint from first contact to closing.    

What are the top five most crucial touchpoints?
The top five types of touchpoints are:
1.       Online form submission
2.       Email
3.       Phone calls
4.       In person visit
5.       Text messages
Other important types of touch points include paper registration forms and hand written notes.

How can builders make the most of each touch point?
Speed is critical. The probability of reaching an online lead goes down the longer you wait with a follow-up email or call (see chart below):

a.       Within the first 10 minutes of inquiry – 98% chance of reaching them

b.      Contact 4 hours later – 95% chance of reaching them

c.       Contact 8 hours later – 92% chance of reaching them

d.      Contact 12 hours later –80% chance of reaching them

e.      Contact 24 hours later – 60% chance of reaching them

f.        Contact 48 hours later – 5% chance of reaching them

This is why it’s critical that sales people get immediate notifications about hot leads and that follow up is relevant and automated. Depending on the stage of where the buyer is in the purchase cycle, personalization is important, too. The closer you get to closing, the more personal that communication needs to be.