Virtual Reality Meets Reality for New Homebuyers PulteGroup Targets Tech-Savvy Consumers with Launch of Innovative iPad Application
BLOOMFIELD HILLS, Mich., Nov. 28, 2011 /PRNewswire/ -- PulteGroup, Inc. is launching a new iPad application that takes the home buying process to the next level for the tech-savvy consumer. The new tool captures individual consumer preferences and shows home configurations in real time -- giving instant feedback on projected monthly payments and how a change in options impacts their bottom line.
Typically, a homebuyer and sales associate discuss preferred new home configurations and options while sitting down at a desk. The combination of the iPad and application make it now possible to capture consumer choices and "build" their home electronically from any location -- while walking in a model or even at a future home site, said Deborah Meyer, chief marketing officer for PulteGroup, one of the nation's largest homebuilders.
"The reasons that people purchase homes today are not drastically different than they were 50 years ago, but the things that cause them to make an emotional connection during their home buying experience have changed radically," Meyer said. "We are evolving our sales environments to be more in touch with the customer experience and that means meeting the technical expectations of our consumers."
The iPad app demonstrates a home as the prospective homebuyer would like to use the space. For example, the buyer can customize and view a flexible space in the home as a design studio or homework area or tailor a loft or extra room to be a kids' play space, office or media room. It can also demonstrate different options that a buyer wants to visualize – such as cabinets with a different color finish in the kitchen. The tool emphasizes the many upgrades and options in new homes, a considerable differentiating factor from the re-sale home buying experience.
"It's virtual reality meets reality," Meyer said, adding that a sales associate can e-mail the homebuyer a pdf brochure with images that in turn can be e-mailed or shared via social media with friends and family whose feedback they may want. "It allows for a more efficient yet intimate buying process by giving the consumer something they customized themselves. It's very personal and reflects their individual choices for their future new home."
In addition to showcasing their personal preferences, a built-in mortgage calculator allows the consumer to tabulate the total cost of the home and show an estimated monthly payment as they make changes. Buyers can also use an interactive map to tap on points of interest near the community and visit websites with detailed information.
Stacey and Alberto Escalante tried out the new iPad tool when visiting Monticello Ranch by Centex in San Antonio. Both teachers in the area, the couple moved into their new home this month.
"We loved being able to pull up the information on our computer at home after our visit as we made decisions on what upgrades to select," said Stacey. "This is our first home so we were really nervous. We both like to use technology and this made the whole process much easier for us."
PulteGroup tested a prototype in Dallas earlier this year and is now bringing the state-of-the-art technology to sales offices across the nation. The concept was originally targeted to the company's Centex first-time communities, which target the Gen Y market, which includes about 71 million "Millennials," Meyer said.
"We knew this would be well received by Gen-Yers taking that big step of home ownership," Meyer said. "These consumers are very technology savvy and grew up on the internet. They are more comfortable integrating technology into the homebuying experience, although we weren't surprised to see Pulte Homes move-up buyers and 55+ Del Webb buyers as rapid adopters of the iPad technology."
PulteGroup assembled a retail experience team of interior designers, brand marketers, mortgage and information systems experts to study the process and evaluate the retail environment the homebuyer was experiencing, said Dan Saltich, the company's director of consumer initiatives. He said the team then worked to translate the home buying process into a more efficient, more fun and more memorable experience by integrating the technology with the demonstration of the actual home.
"The goal was to make the sales process more personal and more engaging to benefit the consumer," Saltich said. "This unique mobile platform lets our buyers configure their home all the way to the final price. It provides as real-time an experience as possible."
HTML 5 based, the mobile website optimized for iPad is integrated into the company's operational systems so that it receives real-time updates for pricing and financing terms. PulteGroup engaged the services of Terralever, a Tempe, AZ-based digital marketing and design company to support the consumer-facing elements of the project.
PulteGroup, Inc. (NYSE: PHM) based in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., is America's premier home building company with operations in 67 markets, 29 states and the District of Columbia. Celebrating its 60th anniversary in 2010, the Company has an unmatched capacity to meet the needs of all buyer groups through its brand portfolio that includes Pulte Homes, Centex Homes and Del Webb. As the most awarded homebuilder in customer satisfaction, the brands of PulteGroup have consistently ranked among the nation's top homebuilders as surveyed by third-party, independent national customer satisfaction studies. For more information about PulteGroup, Inc. and PulteGroup brands, see www.pultegroup.com; www.pulte.com; www.centex.com; www.delwebb.com
SOURCE PulteGroup, Inc.