Guest Blog: Technology is Changing the Way We Buy New Homes
By Anne Marie Britton, Group National Sales & Marketing Director, Miller Homes

At Miller Homes we have been building homes and communities across the UK for over 80 years and in that time the house building industry has seen many changes, most recently in the way customers purchase their new homes.

Advances in technology combined with increasing demands on our time have dramatically altered our buying habits. Consumers expect greater flexibility as to how and when they can buy products and services and online spending continues to grow apace, currently accounting for 17.4% of retail sales compared with only 4.4% 10 years ago (Retail Sales Index, ONS, May 2018).

With the millennial generation edging into the housing market with aspirations of home ownership, developing more proptech solutions for this digital-savvy market is essential for the industry to engage effectively with this cohort of buyers.  Most of them will have experience of the rental market which is awash with apps for bill sharing, landlord rating and renting, so they will have high expectations when it comes to home buying and tools which make that process easier will most likely set one home builder apart from another.

While buying a home is a significant investment and that one-to-one interaction with an experienced development sales manager during the home buying journey can’t be replaced with technology, it can make the process easier and provide the flexibility that today’s consumers expect and demand.

In response to this, in August last year we became the first home builder to launch an online reservations system, enabling buyers to secure their dream home and pay their reservation fee via our website. Since then we have taken more than 230 reservations using the system, which received the accolade for Best Practice and Innovation at the recent Homes for Scotland Awards.

Not only does the tool satisfy customer demand for convenience - 84% of respondents to our recent survey said they would reserve or consider reserving a home online – it has also provided greater efficiencies for our business as we are essentially open 24/7.

Our customer journey looks quite different to when we launched our first website almost two decades ago and it’s exciting to imagine what we, and the wider industry, might develop over the next 20 years!