Homebuyer Expectations in the Digital Landscape

Paul Cardis - Avid Ratings

More of our client’s customers rely on finding data, reviews, research and products in the digital space. As homebuyers continue to spend more time on their mobile devices, many companies in our industry are marketing their homes in the same traditional way. Avid understands the need for builders to provide customers with interactive experiences in the constantly evolving digital landscape, and we work hard to do just that with the products and services we offer.

Our team recently attended the 2017 TecHome Builder Summit where we were invited to demonstrate the need for builders to provide their customers with a digital experience. The reality is that customers just aren’t buying homes the same way that they used to. Buyers want to be able to purchase homes the same way they purchase everything else: in the digital world.

Learn more about how we’re trying to help our clients embrace the digital age in this great feature article from TecHome Builder. Read the article here.

 All the best,


What the Latest News on TripAdvisor Means For Our Industry

Paul Cardis - Avid Ratings

Ask yourself how often a customer review or product star rating has influenced your purchasing decision. Many of us have come to trust and rely on customer online reviews as it offers peace of mind – especially when it’s something that we haven’t purchased before.  If a business removes negative reviews or falsifies the information shared by a consumer, the impact can be far greater than simply a loss of business or a wavered purchasing decision.  In an article published about TripAdvisor, a popular online travel resource, we’ve learned that reviews posted by travelers on the site were removed by the company, and the reviews could have kept travelers out of harm’s way.

The TripAdvisor news is a wake-up call for all companies who are not aware of the Consumer Review Fairness Act. The federal law protects consumers’ ability to share their honest opinions about a business’s products or services and prohibits companies from suppressing negative consumer reviews. For many, this seems obvious but TripAdvisor was regularly allowing clients to suppress negative feedback from consumers on the TripAdvisor website, jeopardizing the safety of travelers to certain areas in Mexico. This is wrong on many fronts and TripAdvisor should be held accountable for allowing this to happen.

In this case, the lesson for the homebuilding industry is that review washing is illegal. The Consumer Review Fairness Act is a federal law being prosecuted by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Furthermore, if you are using a survey system that simply makes it “easy” for you to suppress your negative reviews from appearing online, you need to stop engaging in that practice and likely switch providers. Your current survey company could be the next TripAdvisor and with it your surveys could cease to show up at all online.  We know consumers depend upon verified customer reviews, and without them, your company could suffer significant damage.  Worse yet, you could become the poster child for the FTC on review washing and that would be bad for the entire industry.

There is no easy quick fix to bad reviews and if someone is selling you that option, buyer beware. There are safe and legal options to manage your reviews that are fully compliant with federal laws. Seek a provider who understands this and can keep you in safe harbor.

 All the best,


Voting Is Now Open for the Industry Choice – Best Digital Home Tour

GoTour Industry Choice - Best Digital Home Tour

Avid Friends,

In September we announced that Avid is once again a premier sponsor for The Nationals Sales and Marketing Awards at the 2018 International Builders’ Show in Orlando, Florida. Our goal with The Nationals is to help the homebuilding industry recognize leading technologies that deliver amazing customer experiences for homebuyers.

Voting is now open for the Industry Choice – Best Digital Home Tour. From now through November 15th navigate to www.votewithavid.com to vote for your favorite digital home tour. Digital home tour submissions will be judged on overall integration of user experience, aesthetics, and design of the home, as well as the level of metadata available.

The winner will be announced and presented with their award at The Nationals 2018 on January 9th in Orlando, Florida.

Good luck to all participants!

We invite you to vote for your favorite digital home tour at votewithavid.com.

All the best,

It’s Avid Awards Time

Each year at Avid, we take time to recognize the homebuilders who are creating the very best customer experiences across North America, and we are excited to announce that the 2017 Avid Awards presentation will be aired via web broadcast on July 17.

This year the program includes a few changes. In addition to Production and Small Volume, there is now a Custom Builder category to acknowledge those specializing in higher-end custom homes. Also, the Avid Service Awards will be hosted separately in January 2018 during the International Builders’ Show in Orlando. This is a prime opportunity for Avid to celebrate outstanding employees throughout the industry and we are really looking forward to it.

In addition to the awards themselves, we are also focusing more intently on best practices this year, as will be seen in the roundtable discussions and client interviews during the broadcast. The show came together great, as our marketing team The Digital Ring and Backflip did a bang-up job creating an awesome Avid Awards desk as part of the set… here are some pictures…


The Trade Shortage Dilemma

In this installment of Avid Today, we focus on the trade shortage dilemma facing the entire industry. Rather than bemoan a difficult reality, we are sharing innovative and inspirational stories to show how homebuilding can become more efficient without sacrificing quality and customer satisfaction.
First we hear from Mark Hodges, who oversaw one of the most ambitious projects in our industry, building an entire production home in just 6 days!!! We were very fortunate to observe this project and are grateful to have Mark himself sharing the story… enjoy.
We also have a video of one of the first bricklaying robots developed for the homebuilding industry. This is without question a glimpse into our future and frankly, these advancements are happening much faster than most of us realize. This video is a must see.

See SAM in action:

Interview with Scott Peters, President & Co-Fonuder, Construction Robotics:

All the best,

Do The Right Thing

Although it has now been three months since the U.S. federal government passed the Consumer Review Fairness Act, many builders still lag a bit behind in ensuring they are compliant. In this issue of Avid Today, we focus on integrity, company culture and simply “doing the right thing”. Not only is this ethically and legally correct, but it is best for improving your business and obtaining long-term success.

The following actions are now in direct violation of FTC guidelines, and your company can be fined $100,000s and be publically named as a violator on the FTC website:

  • Having employees fill out surveys or provide public-facing customer reviews (on sites such as Facebook, Google, Yelp or any other) without disclosing they are an employee of your company in the review.
  • Providing any type of compensation to customers for their reviews without disclosing this fact on the review page. (Note: This disclosure is automatically included for all Avid clients within the GoSocial engine.)
  • Deleting negative surveys or falsifying results by entering fabricated surveys. The analogy I like to give: Imagine you are a vitamin company and you claimed your products cured cancer, citing research supporting their effectiveness while deleting the results of patients who had poor outcomes, only reporting the positive; or worse, you simply made up the results. This is clearly in violation of consumer protection laws. Likewise, customer reviews and star ratings are increasingly being viewed in the same light.

In the end, a company with a culture that endorses “doing the right thing” will always win out. Unfortunately, I have seen companies who haven’t created that bright line of what is acceptable or not, and like a cancer this lack of integrity spreads, driving out the good employees who are the lifeblood of your organization.

Simply, do the right thing and great things will happen.

Meet Mark Hodges – Avid Advisor and Founder of Blueprint Strategic Consulting

Figuring out how to make your customers happy is no easy task. In fact, once you think you have it dialed in, customer expectations change and the process to improve your CX begins again. In addition to Forrest Performance Group (FPG) and Continuum Group, Avid is proud to add Mark Hodges from Blueprint Strategic Consulting to its exclusive list of industry experts vetted to work with our clients. Coincidentally, Mark was an Avid Ratings client when he was VP of Operations at K. Hovnanian. He knows Avid and has been in your shoes working through the challenges of running a national home building company.

The highlight of my experience working with Mark was when he invited me to “Ring The Bell” on the NYSE when K. Hovnanian was honored with closing the exchange that day. It was an experience I will remember for the rest of my life and is a testament to the relationship we have formed over the years. It has been an honor to work with him and I look forward to furthering this collaboration with him serving Avid clients.

Mark, along with Jason Forrest and Clark Ellis, round out an all-star team that is up to speed on interpreting Avid data and are experts in creating the ultimate customer experience. In addition to our existing Client Success Team available at no charge to work with your team, the Avid Advisors are high-level experts that can be called upon to solve virtually any organizational issues you may encounter. Please contact us or reach out to them directly to learn more about what they can do for you.

Welcome to the Team Mark!


All the best,


2016 Year In Review

Happy Holidays,

This is my favorite time of the year when I get to slow down, disconnect from my email and phone, and truly shut down a bit. It is also that time of year when we take a moment to reflect and appreciate all that has happened as we move on to the new year. 2016 has been a big year with notable changes that we as an industry and society are reflecting upon. Let me share with you my list of top developments for 2016.

Year of the Robots – 2016 was the first year that technology-driven, automated bricklaying and 3D printed house construction became realities. This year several companies achieved notable successes in demonstrating the viability of this technology to build homes. With the construction labor shortage transitioning from an acute problem to a chronic threat to housing growth, building automation is a welcomed advancement that is sure to change the way homes are built for many decades to come.

The Millennial Arrived – 2016 saw the millennial buyer cross over the 50% mark of consumers shopping for a home in the U.S. The demographers were clamoring how the millennial was coming and 2016 was the year they arrived, helping to catapult the housing market out of the recession lows and into what looks to be even greater highs in years to come. Simply put, we do not have enough houses to satisfy the market, and the millennial impact is causing all builders to adjust to their tastes and buying preferences.

Sustainable Energy Acceleration – 2016 reinforced the movement toward mainstream sustainable energy with the release of both the Power Wall and Integrated Solar Panels by Tesla and its subsidiary Solar City. This development, along with continued market data suggesting increased buyer interest in sustainable energy solutions, makes 2016 a pivotal year for housing’s ability to help contribute to more efficient energy usage, making each home its own mini sustainable power plant and reducing reliance on large scale utilities using traditional forms of energy.

Year of Authenticity – 2016 saw the emergence of authenticity as a primary attribute valued by consumers. From the most popular TV shows, businesses that thrived (i.e. Uber), and even the presidential election, 2016 was no doubt the year the world realized that Authenticity is highly valued. To paraphrase author Joseph Pine, Authenticity is now more important than Quality, more than Cost, more than Availability. We have all witnessed this transition in housing as well, with over 81% of home buyers stating they consider customer reviews an important source of buying information when researching a home builder. Changes at the FTC and the passage of the Consumer Review Freedom Act further reinforce the importance of genuine customer reviews as a powerful source of buying information. More builders are realizing this point and signing on with Avid to publish authentic and FTC compliant customer reviews for their companies. We are expecting continued growth in that need in 2017 and beyond.

Lastly, be sure to focus on the most important development of the year – our loved ones. Take time with your families to relax and enjoy.

All of us at Avid Ratings wish you and yours a peaceful and joyous holiday.

Yours truly,


The Millennials Are Here – What You Need to Know

Dear Readers,

For the past five years we have been hearing about the coming wave of the Millennial Generation. Like the Baby Boomers, they make up more than 80 million people in the U.S., which is double the size of my cohort, Generation X. The big fear was whether Millennials would build homes like those before them, or would they take a different path, renting the rest of their lives – creating a “Renter Nation.” Gene Myers, founder of Thrive Home Builders in Denver, set me straight by pointing out that, “All generations will want the American dream of homeownership.” He was spot on, as this month Zillow® reported in the findings of their latest study (also thoughtfully reported by John McManus at BUILDER magazine, which is a feature article of today’s newsletter). You can access the Zillow report directly at this link http://www.zillow.com/research/zillow-group-report-2016-13279/

Zillow now reports that 50% of all U.S. homebuyers are Millennials. Moreover, 48% are considering new construction vs. a resale home… amazing data. Here are the rest of the highlights from the Zillow report

  • Half (50 percent) of today’s home buyers are under the age of 36, and 47 percent are first-time buyers. Solo home buyers are in the minority; most buyers are shopping with a spouse or partner (73 percent).
  • Eighty-three percent of buyers are shopping for a single-family house. Their top considerations are affordability and being in a safe neighborhood.
  • Fifty-two percent of buyers consider renting while they’re shopping for a home—a number that’s even higher among younger buyers.
  • Seventy-five percent of buyers hire a real estate agent during the buying process.
  • Across all generations, almost nine out of 10 buyers (87 percent) use an online resource at some point in their search for a home to buy.
  • Millennial home buyers share many concerns and preferences with their grandparents’ generation, both choosing homes with shared community amenities and considering townhouses at higher rates than those ages 35-49. However, Millennials’ home-buying process is significantly different from their grandparents’ process.
  • Millennial home buyers wait longer to buy a first home than previous generations. The modern-day “starter home” is nearly as large as the median home for “move-up” buyers, and costs about 18 percent less.
  • Millennial home buyers undertake far more social home searches, seeking input from friends, relatives and neighbors 58 percent of the time, versus the Silent Generation, who poll friends just 37 percent of the time.
  • More than a quarter (26 percent) of buyers find an agent online. A third (33 percent) find an agent through a personal referral.
  • Millennials scrutinize more agents, asking friends and family about their experiences with agents and reading online reviews more than other generations.
  • When it comes to choosing an agent, Millennials and other generations share their top priority: a sense that an agent is trustworthy and responsive to their needs.
  • The average shopper goes on seven home tours, and while they may incorporate online research, they tend to be hands-on at decision time, preferring to meet an agent in person or talk on the phone, and prioritizing private tours of homes led by a professional.
  • Only 46 percent of buyers get the first home on which they make an offer, reflecting the reality that in today’s tight market, the search—which takes an average of 4.2 months—comes with competition and disappointment.
  • Over half of buyers (56 percent) save up for a down payment by setting aside a little money at a time. Almost a third (32 percent) use more than one source for their down payment, including gifts and loans from family, selling stocks and bonds, and cashing in retirement savings.

Happy Building.

Yours truly,


What is the Zero Moment of Truth?

Dear Readers,

Perhaps you have heard our team talk about ZMOT, but if you haven’t, it is probably the most important concept to explain the titanic shifts in commerce that illustrate the rise of digital transactions in today’s economy. ZMOT stands for Zero Moment of Truth; a term coined by Google in 2012 to describe why companies like Amazon have been taking over the retail space along with many other digital titians we all recognize today (Uber, Apple, Zappos, just to name a few). ZMOT essentially explains the critical elements that make a digital transaction so appealing to consumers. Google proclaims that in order to win the Zero Moment of Truth when buyers are researching your products, even when you are unaware of it, you must have three critical functions on your website:

  • Your product pictures online
  • Your product options that go with that product online and/or product details
  • Customer Reviews about your product

If you provide consumers with these three things in an easy to access (single destination, not multiple sites) format, then you fulfill ZMOT and will gain more customers because customers can engage with your product independently before they come to you for information.

Zillow reports that now 50% of home buyers are “millennials” and that 40% of those millennials are willing to build a new home. It has become crucial for builders to embrace ZMOT or else be left behind.

Contact your Avid Success Manager to learn more about our Digital CX tools that make it easy for you to have ZMOT when selling your homes.

Yours truly,