More baby boomers continue to work past the age of 65, but many are still looking toward retirement, including downsizing their current home and finding a location that fits their lifestyle. Because they may still be working full or part time, however, they may not have the flexibility — or desire — to move to more destination-oriented locations.
To meet this growing demand, builders are looking toward less traditional locations to create housing for 55+ home buyers. Major developers have started to construct in areas around Boston, Minneapolis and Newark, N.J., for example, to match the needs of this working demographic — a trend likely to continue as the oldest members of Generation X are now starting to reach the age of 55.
“This is a real opportunity for builders to capitalize on the boomer population — a large, affluent demographic with equity to trade into a new home,” observed Deborah Blake, principal at The Ipsum Group. “Builders are able to start with smaller communities — around 300 to 500 units or less — in locations that you wouldn’t necessarily think of for communities in the past.”
One of the biggest hurdles builders may face in local communities is that boomers oftentimes choose to stay in their current homes because they don’t know what other options are available to them. To make the move, buyers need to see the value of a new home or community, and how it’s better suited to their lifestyle. Features such as single-level living, universal design concepts, and a more attractive social network through amenities and other activities can be a major draw.
“I always say it’s ‘plussing your lifestyle without leaving your neighborhood,’” Blake noted. “They get to enjoy their career, with a full-time income, and live in a home that fits their lifestyle — it’s the best of both worlds.”
Builders are also experiencing strong competition in the resale market in popular destinations such as Arizona and Florida, she added. Buyers are able to purchase less-expensive homes in 25- to 30-year-old communities that have been well-maintained and boast vibrant groups of residents.
Before looking into local opportunities, however, it’s critical to understand this niche audience. “Success requires the right pricing and creating the right things to compel a 55+ buyer to say, ‘My current home doesn’t fit my needs or lifestyle,’” Blake stated.
With three decades of real-life experience — 22 years with Del Webb and the last seven-plus years advising clients across the United States at The Ipsum Group — Deborah Blake is uniquely qualified to provide pragmatic advice in the areas of consumer research, community feasibility, visioning, amenity and lifestyle programming, branding, marketing, sales, residential product, and operations of 55+ targeted and age-qualified communities.
Netiquette — etiquette for the digital world — is where common courtesy meets the Internet. Netiquette is necessary since business communications have evolved and become Internet-based. Telephone and snail mail are no longer the primary forms of business communication; texting, instant messaging and social media have taken precedence.
People often wonder how the various generations like to communicate. Knowing each generation’s preferences can make a world of difference in business.
Direct, visual and succinct
Communicate with images and multitask across several screens
Short attention spans, communicate in bite-sized snacks with punchy headlines, emoticons, photos and images
Hate talking on the phone
Prefer texting or messaging apps
Like thought-out responses afforded by texts, unlike personal conversations or phone calls
Will use email, although it is seen as less urgent than a text
Adapt quickly to new technology
Grew up with the emergence of the PC, lived through the dot-com bust and the introduction of the cell phone
Can be reached with a variety of technologies
The most technologically versatile
Prefer face-to-face meetings
Talk on the phone
Use email, video conference, text, etc.; varies by individual, so their tech knowledge shouldn’t be underestimated
Stay accessible and visible
Above all, ask how someone wants to communicate. Once you know that, follow the eight rules of business communication:
Know what you are going to say before you say it
Less is more; keep it simple
Use bullet points
What’s in it for me? (WIIFM)
Don’t get bogged down (tangents, lose focus)
Call to action (again, what’s in it for me?)
Edit, spell check and review once more
For more information on Netiquette, read the full article, “Manners for Digital Communication,” in the current issue of Building Women magazine authored by Carol Morgan, MIRM, CAPS, CSP. NAHB Professional Women in Building Council (PWB) is offering a free webcast to PWB Council members on Netiquette featuring Morgan today, June 27, at 2 p.m. ET. For more information about the webcast or PWB, contact Sheronda Carr.
In my work as a marketing strategist for contractors and the trades, I have met with countless business owners struggling to grow sales. Some were larger companies with elaborate websites, and some had simple websites. But regardless of size, they all faced the same problem: Their websites were not generating leads.
In talking to those business owners about their websites, they often had a misunderstanding of what a website entails. Many see websites as a commodity that they must have. They look to buy a website based on price rather than as an investment that will generate year-after-year returns. By basing a decision on price, the website's design will go to the lowest bidder instead of a company that has experience in creating a lead generating system that takes businesses the distance.
Having analyzed hundreds of websites, I’ve seen the same mistakes over and over again. Here are five possible reasons your website is not generating leads.
1. Lack of Visibility
Perhaps the most common reason websites don’t generate leads is a lack of visibility, or lack of traffic. If your website doesn’t rank on page one of the search engines, Google and Bing for example, and you are not doing any kind of advertising to drive potential customers to your website, then your company is invisible. The only way people will find you or your website is if they know your company name or you hand them a business card.
To generate leads from your website, you need to be visible and you need traffic. Just like sales is a numbers game, so is online lead generation. When I trained real estate agents we used to say, it takes 100 suspects, to get 10 prospects to generate one sale. In online marketing, it is the same. A great conversion rate on the web is 5% or higher. The average conversion rate is 1 to 2%. So, if you want to make five sales per month, you need to get at least 500 people to your website each month.
The quickest way to generate traffic to your website is to use pay-per-click marketing. With pay-per-click marketing, ads for your company appear at the top of the search engines when customers enter keywords related to your business. When they click on your ad, you are charged a fee for the click.
Depending on the keyword, the cost per click will vary. For instance, today the cost per click for “home builders in Colorado Springs” is $5.23. The cost for “affordable home builders in Colorado
Springs” is $3.25. The cost per click is dependent upon how many companies are competing for that keyword.
It is important to have a good mix of keywords. It is equally as important to work with someone who really understands the workings of pay-per-click marketing to manage your ad spend and work on adjusting your ads to increase your ROI.
There is a downside to pay-per-click advertising, though, and that is if you stop advertising, you stop getting traffic. The long-term strategy to drive traffic to your website is to hire a company to optimize your website for the search engines. This process, called search engine optimization, is not marketing. It does not generate leads by itself. But, when your website moves to page one, and ideally within one of the top three organic spots for terms people are using to find companies like yours, you will get traffic to your site without having to pay a monthly pay-per-click ad spend.
If you are getting traffic to your website but visitors are not contacting you, then the question is, what are they doing on your website? Google Analytics combined with Google Search Console is a must-have tool to determine what is and isn’t working with your website. Using these tools, you can know how many visitors are coming to your website, how they got to the website, how long they stay on your site, and where they enter and exit your site.
2. Unprofessional or Lacking Portfolio Photos
Your website in many cases is the first impression a customer gets of your business. Yet many companies skimp on photography. I analyzed a website for a tile contractor that came to me recently. Her website was ranking on page one for 24 keywords, but she said her website wasn’t generating any leads.
The first thing I did was look at Google Analytics to see her website’s traffic numbers. She was getting plenty of people to her website, but no one was contacting her. So, I dug deeper and looked to see where people were exiting her website.
What I found was that 25% of the people who visited her website left the site after viewing the project portfolio page. When I viewed the page, I understood why. There were two pictures that were taken by her with her cell phone, but they weren’t staged in any way. While the tile work in the photo was very nice, you had to look over tools and pans sitting on the kitchen counter to see the work.
Your website must showcase your best work. Hire a skilled photographer. You don’t necessarily need a professional photographer, but one that knows about lighting and that will stage the photo for you.
If you are doing renovation work, have before and after photos taken from the same vantage point so the visitor can easily see the differences. A little planning before taking photos will go a long way in making you look great.
3. Missing Call-to-Action
In sales we say "ABC," always be closing. The equivalent to that in websites is always have a call-to-action. I have seen many websites missing the call-to-action. Essentially, the website gives a lot of information on the company’s product or service and then says, “for more information contact us.”
That’s great, but website visitors need direction. Your website needs to very specifically tell them how to reach you and it needs to be easy.
A call-to-action on your website needs to be in two forms. The first is your call-to-action within the text of your site. It should say, for example, “To learn more about our custom home building offerings, fill out our convenient contact form or for immediate assistance call us today at 719-555-1212.”
In this call-to-action, the phone number should be setup as click-to-call so smart phone users can click on the phone number to dial. The whole call-to-action should be in a different font and set apart from the rest of the content on the site so it is easily recognizable.
The second is a form on your website. We recently worked with a client whose site only had the call-to-action in the text of the site. Once we added a “Request a Quote” form in the right column of all the services pages, he started getting leads.
4. Misaligned Content
When visitors come to your website, they are typically looking to answer a question. Many people start researching new homes or home renovation projects months before they are actually ready to buy. So, in preparation they head to the web to see what it will cost, get ideas of what they might buy, and even compare offerings. What I see time and time again is that websites are not designed to answer the questions customers are looking to answer. Instead, they give the information owners and salespeople want them to know.
Take for instance a custom home builder we worked with recently. His website had a lot of information and gorgeous examples of his work, but visitors were not requesting to meet with him. After working with him at a local home show we noticed that people in the booth first looked at the photos of his work and then they asked for floor plans. He didn’t have floor plans on his website because he said he can build whatever the customer wanted. But customers want a place to start. They want something to build on. So, we added a few of a variety of floor plans that he has built to his website.
Understanding how your customers think and what questions they always ask is important when building or redesigning your website.
5. Lack of Attention
The biggest reason business websites don’t generate leads is because business owners don’t understand what is required to create a lead generating machine and they don’t give their website the attention that it needs.
Just like building a home, building a website is part art, part science. Building a website that generates a steady stream of leads takes time, testing, and analysis.
I always tell my customers, you wouldn’t put an ad in the newspaper for 52 weeks and leave it there if it wasn’t generating business, and so you shouldn’t let your website sit if it is not generating business.
Your website can be a powerful player in the success of your company, but as a business owner you need to understand that this is not the Field of Dreams. They will not come just because you build it. A website can be your best salesperson, but it needs to be nurtured and tended to.
Construction for an Aging Population: The Influence of Shifting Demographics
Senior citizens are a fast-growing segment of the population. It is estimated that the number of people age 65 and older will nearly double before 2050. While many senior citizens eventually go on to live in an assisted living facility or nursing home, a growing portion of the senior population is focused on age-in-place strategies to stay in their own homes and remain independent for as long as possible.
Aging in place is possible under the right circumstances. Seniors need special accommodations that younger homeowners and home buyers rarely consider. This may affect many of the homes being built and remodeled today and into the future. Contractors who build or remodel homes can better serve this growing niche by remaining up to date with the latest changes and trends. If you're a contractor with a burgeoning business, here's what you need to know about constructing homes for an aging population.
Single Floor Living or Lift Installation Capabilities
In their golden years, many seniors lose the ability to walk safely up and down stairs. Some seniors will manage this problem by installing a stair lift or elevator. Others may simply seek out homes where they can live all on one floor. Single floor living can be accomplished in many ways. In some cases, homeowners install a master suite on the first floor, where they can sleep and go to the bathroom all without going upstairs. Sometimes this requires the homeowner to make an addition to the home. In other cases, homeowners move to homes without a second floor.
Ranch style homes are very practical for homeowners who are unable to go up and down stairs regularly. In some ranch style homes, facilities (like laundry) are placed in the basement. Builders in an area with high housing demand from seniors may opt to move these facilities to the ground floor. Those constructing homes with multiple floors might consider leaving enough room for a lift or elevator to be installed.
There are many ways that contractors can build senior-safe bathrooms. Existing bathrooms can also be modified to become senior-safe. Common age in place features found in bathrooms include:
Walk-in showers. These showers reduce the risk of a homeowner falling when stepping into and out of the shower.
Non-slip floors. Slips are a common problem in bathrooms, but non-slip floors can help prevent falls even when the floor is wet.
Grab bars. Grab bars give homeowners something to hold onto in the shower and when standing up or sitting down from the toilet.
Proper lighting. The bathroom is a place where lighting can be poor in areas over the shower; improving lighting can help prevent accidents.
In cases when the homeowner contacts a contractor to ask for an age in place remodel, contractors can help the homeowner identify areas where their existing bathroom can be improved.
Many seniors eventually find themselves in a wheelchair or in need of some sort of mobility device. When this happens, navigating a standard home can be a challenge. Narrow doorways and hallways make it difficult or impossible to maneuver around the house independently.Those who wish to stay in their current home may need a contractor with the ability to widen hallways or doorways. Ramp installation/construction is also important for homeowners in wheelchairs.â€‹ Those who choose to downsize/move will need to find or build a home with these accomodations. For this kind of project, it's important to become familiar with the local building codes. Contractors who are familiar with local regulations can help ensure the changes they make are safe.
Good lighting is an important and desirable feature in any home, but it's even more important in a senior's home. Varied lighting and adequate controls can help seniors avoid accidents. When installing lighting, contractors must ensure that switches are available in all room entry ways, and must also ensure that lighting can reach all dark corners. Hallways in particular can be dim, so installing hallway lighting can prevent accidents.
Helping Seniors Achieve Their Goals
Builders and contractors can help home buyers and homeowners achieve a wide variety of goals and this - broadly speaking - is no different. Like many jobs they are faced with, building a home that is suitable for aging-in-place is not always a straightforward task and, as a result, creative problem-solvers will always be in demand. Looking forward to the future, learning how to address aging-in-place concerns in a home can make an individual or company an invaluable resource to a growing population of seniors wishing to maintain their independence.
John Quinn is the broker and owner of The John Quinn Team of RE/MAX Experts. With over 30 years of real estate experience and a commitment to personalized customer service, John helps buyers and sellers in the memphis area.
Finding an affordable home to buy should be easier than discovering buried treasure. But for many homebuyers – especially first-timers – it’s doesn’t feel that way.
The lack of affordable homes has been a persistent problem in the housing market. In the first quarter, inventory rose 2.4% from a year earlier, according to the National Association of Realtors. But it’s still well below normal, and that’s vexing homebuyers.
To unearth low-cost homes, USA TODAY tapped Trulia to look at the largest 50 U.S. metro areas and identify ZIP codes where homes are affordable relative to the median metro income.
Here's the hopeful news for buyers.
Where the least expensive housing exists in every state
In 43 metro areas, at least half the homes in the majority of ZIP codes were considered affordable. There were 604 ZIP codes – or 6.8% of all ZIP codes – where all of the homes were affordable. There were just 288 ZIP codes, or 3.3%, where none of the homes were considered affordable.
“It’s interesting that so many ZIP codes fall into one of those extreme buckets,” said Cheryl Young, senior economist at Trulia.
What makes a ZIP code affordable?
Neither housing stock age nor distance from the city center seemed to be strong drivers of affordability, Young said.
“That’s likely because there may be a premium to live near the center of a metro as well as a premium to live in tony suburbs,” Young said, “and (while) older housing stock may reduce home values, there are also high-value neighborhoods with well-maintained older estates and homes.”
Trulia didn’t dig into other factors that could determine the desirability of a ZIP code and, therefore, the value of the housing inventory, such as performance of nearby schools, proximity to shopping and restaurants, and access to major commuter roads.
What is affordable?
Trulia took the current value of all homes in the largest 50 metro areas and calculated how much the median income could afford by ZIP code. Homes were considered affordable if 30% or less of the metro area’s median monthly income went to the mortgage payment.
To find the share of affordable homes on the market, Trulia calculated the maximum amount that the median income could allocate toward a mortgage payment. Calculations considered a 20% down payment, and the monthly mortgage payment also included property insurance and taxes.
It’s important to note that many homebuyers, notably first-time buyers, contribute less than 20% toward their home purchase. That would increase their monthly mortgage payment on the same home bought with 20% down. Additionally, those buyers would have to pay private mortgage insurance, another monthly cost. The number of ZIP codes with affordable homes would also shrink for those buyers, Young said.
Most and least affordable ZIP codes
USA TODAY ranked a metro area's affordability by the percentage of ZIP codes where at least half of the homes are affordable for that area's median income. Using Trulia's data, USA TODAY also looked at how many ZIP codes were 100% affordable and how many had no affordable homes for the median income.
Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 95.4%
Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0%
Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 6.5%
Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 96.7%
Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0.8%
Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 13.8%
Share of ZIP codes where at least half the homes are affordable: 95.8%
Share of ZIP codes where none of the homes are affordable: 0.5%
Share of ZIP codes where all the homes are affordable: 22.4%
The Builders Association of South Central Oklahoma has named Stephen Koranda executive officer.
Through his firm, Back To You Marketing, Koranda will manage BASCO, which, since 1949, has been serving and connecting those in the home building industry through education, information, advocacy, and networking events.
Koranda has more than 20 years of experience working with customer service and association clients including local and statewide associations. He has previously managed nonprofits and has served on numerous boards within Norman and Oklahoma. He is presently principal and senior consultant of Back To You Marketing, a full-service marketing association management firm based in Norman.
“Stephen brings his extensive network and experience in management, collaboration and strategic direction to his role as the executive officer,” Danny Gamble, BASCO Board Chair, said in a statement. “We are excited to see where he will lead the association.”