For all the excitement that comes with purchasing a new home, a visit to the sales centre can be stressful if buyers have to deal with lists, line-ups, and scheduling appointments.
However, a software solution created by two men who work in the architectural design field makes the whole process more streamlined for builders and developers, and much easier for buyers. Last year, Salefish Software was used for about half of the new low-rise home sales advertised in the Greater Golden Horseshoe, and for about 4,000 to 5,000 units of the 36,429 new condo purchases, estimates Salefish founder Rob Nicolucci.
After noticing how antiquated and cumbersome the sales process was about 10 years ago, “Rob had an idea that there should be a better way to communicate with customers in the sales office,” says Rick Haws, Salefish co-founder and president.
Nicolucci founded RN Design Ltd., in 1991, one of Canada’s leading architectural design firms and Haws worked for the firm, so they have extensive experience working with developers throughout the entire new home process, from design to sales. While Salefish solves issues for builders, it’s also beneficial for the consumer. The software is well-proven, as it’s been in the market for nearly 10 years and has a growing roster of builders and developers using it.
With Salefish’s Home Buyer Live, purchasers can reserve a new home or condominium online after researching the options from the comfort of their home, office, or coffee shop.
“The builder will release a registration link to a buyer, give them a couple of days to look at the information online, then make a button active that people can use to reserve their purchase,” says Haws. “People are often more comfortable researching options in their own home.”
Buyers can browse models based on lot size, home square footage, number of bedrooms, and price. Homes that fit their criteria will be displayed along with floor plans. Once the buyer selects a home model, a site plan shows what lots are available for that house. Or buyers can shop for a lot first and when they choose one, they’ll learn what home models are available to build on it. After the choices are selected, the buyer gets a summary with detailed information including pre-siting of the house on the lot, whether it’s a standard or reversed plan, the lot grading condition, and the final price (including any extra costs such as lot grading or lot premium). Or in the case of condominiums, buyers can select suites based on floor, unit type, orientation, or price range.
With that information, the buyer can decide whether to go ahead and reserve a lot. The data is in real time, so up-to-the-minute information is provided about available lots, pricing, etc.
Next, they’ll receive the terms and conditions including time limit, what information they must provide and selection of a date to sign the sales agreement. Purchaser information, the deposit and administration fees are all handled online and confirmation sent. The next step will be for the purchaser to sign an agreement of sale and purchase—they will have to come to the sales centre to do that, but they won’t have to wait in line and they’ll be assured the lot and home of their choice has been reserved for them.
For condominium projects using Home Buyer Live, buyers can explore suites based on floor, unit type, orientation, or price range. As data is instantly uploaded, the same unit cannot be sold twice and buyers can be assured their chosen suite is reserved.
With Home Buyer Live, buyers don’t have to worry they’ll miss out if they are not in the area when a site opens as they can use it from anywhere in the world where there is Wifi—for example, one buyer was in Montana and used Home Buyer Live to reserve his new home in Ontario.
The process is similar if a buyer visits a sales centre—the sales agent can use Salefish to guide the customer through the process.
“The experience is good, as it brings all the information customer needs forward so the salesperson makes sure the customer has up-to-date pricing and availability of lots and plans,” says Haws. “Everything is updated instantly.”
It makes the whole process much quicker, meaning the sale can be completed without lengthy waits.
Builders and developers have found it to be an efficient way to do business. Some builders have used it to sell out the last homes in a phase of a project or held weekend pop-up events that don’t require opening a sales office. One major builder found that 20 percent of their purchasers reserved homes online using Salefish.
“It improves customer relationships and experiences because people feel more taken care of,” says Nicolucci. “Sales people are still important to the process, but Salefish enhances customer service and reduces the time needed to prepare an offer. It’s seamless and good for buyers and sellers alike.”
Tracy Hanes is a GTA real estate writer.