I’ve had modular home builders tell me that they have had to be everything from energy experts to marriage counselors when working with new home buyers.
In those meetings leading up to signing the contract to build their new home modular home builders are expected to also be designers and inquisitors. This begins when a prospective new home buyer walks into your office with their dream home floorplan already drawn out on a paper. Their poor planning and budgets that are too small can lead way to some wayward, inconvenient and disastrous mistakes. And might even cost you the sale.
Now you must take their plan and do one of two things. Either you can build it with some adjustments for modular construction or wonder how you are going to tell them that their dream home could become their worst nightmare.
Be aware that even the floorplan that looks good at first glance still might not be a good fit for them.
It is up to you, the builder, to dig a little deeper into the buyer’s wants and needs, not only for today but for well into the future.
Are they planning on expanding their family by having children or having parents move in with them? Ask about what they really see as happening to their housing needs 10 and 20 years from now and what you can suggest to get ready for that.
Do they have current medical needs that could worsen over the next decade?
What are their plans if one or more of their parents need help with daily living or one of their grown children returns home for an extended stay? Or what happens to those spare bedrooms when all the children leave home? Do family and friends visit often?
When I started out as a builder I remember another builder telling me that “every new home comes equipped with a million questions. Just take your time and answer them truthfully and to the best of your ability.” Thank you Truman Rockey, a friend and builder from Bellefonte, PA.
One advantage that manufactured/modular dealers have over custom modular home builders is the number of homes on display. Dealer’s Salespeople rarely need to dig very deeply into a customer’s wants and needs. Hopefully the customer falls in love with one of the display homes and if not, there are books of floorplans with lots of options available to browse.
A custom modular home builder on the other hand has to first be able to visualize the buyer’s home as they describe it and secondly has to ask the questions necessary to redesign that home upon hearing the answers. Now that my friends is the real challenge.
There are many stages of ‘asking questions’ but for now I will address just the first two.
First Stage Questions:
If you can’t get good clear answers to each of these, you may find yourself spending a lot of time with buyers that are unable or unwilling to build a new home.
- When are you planning on being in your home?
- Have you found land?
- Have you been to a bank or lender?
Second Stage Questions:
These are basic questions you need to ask after you’ve asked and gotten past the Stage One questions.
- Do you have a floorplan in mind?
- What do you like about your present home? What do you dislike like?
- Why are you looking to build a new home?
- Can we talk about your budget?
- Is your family situation expanding or decreasing?
- Are there special needs?
There are probably a few more that could be added to the second stage but if you can get a dialogue started using these questions, the rest will begin to flow naturally since by this time they have probably opened up to you about some truly personal things. Building trust is a two way street.
Modcoach note: If all you can get out of your prospective home buyers to these basic questions are ‘yes/no answers’, grunts and shrugs or avoidance, take this as a good sign as how the whole process of building their home will be. Might be a good time to move on.
You are there to help them solve their housing problems and if you can make a sale and build their new home, well, isn’t that the goal?