National Housing Market OutlookDemographics

Mobile Marketing Changing The Game For U.S. Home Builders

February 1, 2013

Successfully promoting new communities is all about knowing your buyer.

Most builders use the weekends following the Super Bowl as an indication of market health, based on the level of activity and quality of traffic into their sales offices. As you embark on your marketing strategies for your communities, we would like to share some insights we received from a recent survey on how consumers shop for a home.

The most essential ingredient to promoting any product is understanding your buyers, what they’re looking for, and where they’re looking for it. For builders, this translates into not only building the communities that home buyers want, but also making sure those communities show up front and center in prospects’ searches for a new home.

Almost 3,000 resale homebuyers responded to a survey we conducted in partnership with Zillow, telling us what they look for when shopping for a new home. Our 2012 Consumer Insights survey included 20,000 consumers who registered with home builders. Together, these two studies paint a vivid picture of what both resale and new home buyers are looking for and how they’re looking for it. The results are remarkably similar:

  • Homebuyers across all life stages, price points and regions are looking for location, home design and price as top priorities.
  • New construction ranks lower on the list of considerations.

When looking at your marketing strategy, it is important to confirm that your communities are appearing in places that resale homes are listed as well.


Then, there’s home buying’s literal how-and this should come as no surprise: prospects are going to the Internet first.

“Search the Internet” was the #1 response given for the place buyers across all life stages and regions go to gather information, with “Real Estate Websites” as the top source that potential buyers are likely to use when buying their homes. However, “Homebuilder Websites” only ranked 5th among the overall sources, indicating that driving traffic back to your website needs to be done through outside channels. Here is the list of priority given to information sources when buyers are looking for their next home:

  1. Real Estate Websites (e.g. Zillow, Trulia)
  2. Realtor®
  3. Search Engines (e.g. Google, Bing)
  4. Referral from family and friends
  5. Homebuilder Websites
  6. Newspaper


Real estate websites are where buyers are most likely to look when shopping for a home, with homebuilder websites ranking far below.


72% of respondents said they were “likely” or “very likely” to use a mobile device in their search for a new home, and 57% own a tablet or plan to own one in the next year. This means that the questions of mobile website design and accessibility should become an important consideration when promoting a community. Home builders’ unique mobile applications ranked far lower than established mobile applications, such as Zillow, Trulia,, etc. To ensure that buyers are able to access your information on a mobile platform, consider mobile-optimized web designs or, at a minimum, removing complex programing (such as Flash) to allow buyers to get content on the go.

Building Market Intelligence™

Every week, we deliver analysis to over 40,000 subscribers with our Building Market Intelligence™ newsletter. Subscribe to our weekly BMI newsletters to stay current on pressing topics in the housing industry.

About The Author

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our services or if you would like to speak to one of our experts about we can help your business, please contact Client Relations at

Products and Services Mentioned

green check icon

Research Membership

Our research services enable our clients to gauge housing market conditions and better align their business and strategic investments in the housing industry. We provide a thoughtful and unique holistic approach of both quantitative and qualitative analysis to help clients make informed housing investment decisions.
green check icon

Burns Home Builder Analysis and Forecast

A report used to quickly compare the publicly traded builders to each other based on their geographic footprint (community counts).
green check icon

Real Estate Consulting

Our experienced team of consultants helps clients make sound housing investment decisions. We thrive on their success and work with many clients over multiple years and numerous projects.

Latest Insights

Higher-for-Longer Rates Spook CRE Investors, per the Burns + CRE Daily Fear and Greed Index
1Q24 Kitchen and Bath Insights: Middle-Market Malaise; Luxury-Market Strength
Charting a 22-year roller coaster of investor activity