Builders who have been dramatically affected by COVID-19 lockdown restrictions are looking ahead with optimism, particularly as government grants stimulate house and land sales.
John Plozza, from Proview Homes, says that with display homes closed and people in lockdown, his business was severely suppressed.
“We didn’t sign a contract for four months, which for us is a long time,” explains John. “Now we have the government grants helping to bring people in.”
“We should sign four contracts this week, so the numbers are coming back.”
Under the Federal HomeBuilder grant, eligible owner-occupiers receive $25,000 to build a new home or substantially renovate an existing home. In addition, eligible recipients can apply for the Queensland Government’s Regional Home Building Boost grant of $5,000 and the First Home Owner Grant of $15,000. For eligible first home buyers, that equates to a whopping $45,000 in grants, and with some of the best interest rates ever offered available, it’s undeniably a great time to buy.
Even with the recently announced grants, John was surprised at the record number of potential buyers who visited when they re-opened their display home.
“We actually thought going through this that we could go fully online, get rid of the display home and do appointments only,” says John. “We thought people would have broken that pattern of coming out on the weekends.
“But, the reality is as soon as we were open, we were pumping.”
This experience has shown John that buyers don’t want him to change the way he works; buyers still want to see a display home and meet in person, which makes him happy.
“I can’t express myself the same way in an email,” admits John, with a laugh. “I can talk to people pretty comfortably, so I’ve enjoyed the last couple of weeks.
“I don’t think there is a place for just online connection. You need to have real-life connection for people to believe in you to be able to sell.”
John believes the building industry is now even harder for young builders to enter than when he started Proview Homes ten years ago.
“It’s very hard to start a building company from scratch,” says John. “You need a lot money to inject and time.
“It’s very competitive, you need a display home and it takes time to win those awards and build that recognition.”
One of John’s secrets to success is to be proactive in all aspects of his business from managing contractors, marketing and house designs.
“I’ve done a lot of marketing over the years on TV, radio, and local magazines, and I found it all works but it all has times lines,” John shares.
“Social media works for everybody, you don’t even buy a paper anymore, everyone shops online.
“So we’ve tried to keep ahead of all that.”
With over three thousand likes on their Facebook page, Proview Homes is ahead of most its competitors on social media. Proview Homes was also ahead of the game by having a robust system in place for managing contractors which enable them to tighten schedules to meet social distancing requirements.
John drew on his twenty years of business and building experience to remain positive and proactive during the quiet months, using the time to redesign their whole plan range. Based on their display home, they are designed to make the homes feel larger with more air flow by opening up the floor plans.
“People are thinking about the floor plan more, and the plans we are delivering are all about blurring the line between inside and outside and making the transition seamless,” says John.
With his display house open, the government grants encouraging buyers and new floorplans to share with clients, John is looking forward to rest of the year.
“You suppress a market for a while we are still going to be busy at the end of it,” says John, “and people still need to build houses.”
By Sonia Zabala for BDmag