There are few things as exciting as buying a home — and the initial thrill can linger even after buyers have moved in. However, after some time, the elation wears off and reality sets in. After all — owning a home is a big responsibility and can be stressful, especially for first-time homeowners.
We’ve found that homebuyers satisfaction typically dips post-move-in, for any number of factors. We’ll explore these below and — just as importantly — detail what you, as a homebuilder, can do to prevent the “post-move-in blues.”
Why Does Homebuyer Satisfaction Dip Post-Move-In?
The “Honeymoon Phase” Is Great . . .
The honeymoon phase of home buying is well-documented. What can be more exciting and satisfying than the first weeks in a new home? Finally — the nervous anticipation that accompanies closing on a home and moving in has passed, and new homeowners are able to sit back, relax, and enjoy the fruits of their labor (and what is often a dream come true!).
. . . Until It Fades and Reality Sets In
But as the weeks go on, the honeymoon phase begins to fade as small imperfections and minor hiccups become more apparent. Sometimes, warranty work needs to be performed (a hassle for everyone involved), and elements of the home that had been professionally maintained — such as landscaping — can become neglected. When these types of things happen, a homebuyer’s perspective of their experience may begin to sour.
“Does My Builder Still Care?”
On top of a fading honeymoon phase, homebuyers who feel like a once-attentive builder has, in essence, abandoned them post-move-in may experience declining levels of satisfaction. It makes sense: the homebuyer has likely established a close relationship with the builder, especially if they collaborated on the build from the get-go. When a builder goes dark post-move-in, buyers might be wondering if their partnership was truly authentic.
What Can Homebuilders Do to Prevent Declining Buyer Satisfaction?
Complete Requested Home Warranty Work, Prioritizing Factors Buyers Deem Important . . .
When it comes to their new home, many buyers perceive small issues or defects as larger problems, especially if not addressed in a high-quality, timely manner by builders during the warranty phase.
You may be wondering — what factors of home warranty work do buyers value most? When juggling a mountain of priorities, which should builders prioritize, and in what order?
At Avid Ratings (HomeKeep’s parent company), we’ve done our research, surveying buyers to see what really matters when it comes to home warranty work. Here’s what they said:
- Quality of work (makes sense, right?).
- Knowledgeable workers who explain why issues happened and — just as importantly — what they’ll do to prevent the same issues go-forward.
- Clear communication around delayed timelines: If you’re going to be late, at least be extra communicative so that buyers don’t feel like they’ve been forgotten.
- Speed of work (note this ranks lower on the scale of importance than quality).
- Workers who look professional (although — it certainly can’t hurt a buyer’s impression of you and your team).
. . . This Increases Homebuyer’s Perception of Value (Key for Referrals)
It makes sense — homeowners who feel that their home has grown in value after a year are more satisfied with their builder than homeowners who feel the opposite. (No one wants to feel like they overpaid for their new home!) We’ve found that the quality of warranty work is directly tied to buyers’ perception of value.
The interesting thing? Homebuyer perception of value after one year wins as the factor most closely linked to a buyer’s willingness to make a referral. It outranks things like community appearance, distance to amenities, and HOAs: factors that might have seemed important initially, but fade in relevance (at least as it comes to referrals) as the year progresses.
What does this mean for builders? Don’t just focus on the customer experience pre and directly post-move-in. Focus on the warranty phase, too, for greater buyer satisfaction and more referrals. And — as detailed above — quality is the most important factor when it comes to warranty work, outranking things like speed and worker appearance.
Provide Excellent Customer Service — Even Post-Move-In
Builders typically understand the importance of customer service during the sales and options experience. What they don’t know is that this has little bearing on homebuyers’ satisfaction a year later.
As a builder, try redirecting some energy and resources toward providing an exceptional walkthrough and warranty service. These experiences closely correlate with the homebuyer’s loyalty and satisfaction, both at move-in and a year later.
As discussed, the quality of materials and workmanship are the most important factors when it comes to homebuyers’ satisfaction ratings. However, timely and clear communication — key elements of customer service — can make a difference in how your customers perceive this quality. Go the extra mile: provide buyers with information about the features and benefits of materials you’ve used and the level of craftsmanship and skill you’ve employed. This can do wonders to increase their satisfaction with your service.
Provide Solutions that Simplify Home Ownership
One final note? Consider offering buyers solutions that help them manage and maintain their new home. Tools like HomeKeep can improve buyer satisfaction by simplifying the tedious and difficult aspects of home ownership, such as maintenance and upkeep. That way, homebuyers can focus on the joyful aspects they’ve been dreaming of.
Interested? Learn more here, and stay tuned for additional home builder tips.