Have suggestions for products that you’d like to see reviewed by our real estate technology expert? Email Craig Rowe.Welcome Homes is tech-forward home developer with a 3D rendering solution for home selection and transaction facilitation.
Platforms: Browser, mobile responsive Ideal for: Buyer agents, agents who specialize in new constructionTop selling points: Simple, consumer-app UX Transparent costing Approachable buying process High-end virtual walkthroughs Welcome change from traditional new construction Top concern:
Scaling can be an issue for this company. While it can partner with builders in each market, eventually, large-scale national players can pay to compete with its software’s sophistication, assuming they create the appropriate in-house technology teams. Also, its geographic restrictions limit the number of actual case studies.What you should know
Welcome Homes has its sights set on upending the way homebuyers work with developers.
Emulating what Rocket Mortgage accomplished in its effort to bring a retail shopping experience to the unspeakably arduous odyssey of applying for a mortgage, Welcome Homes augments a streamlined business plan with dynamic 3D visualization to let new homebuyers build and buy directly from their browsers.
The process appears confident, stable, and because of the company’s always-on concierge teams, easy to navigate.
Welcome Homes is a homebuilder, not a proptech. It just happens to be a homebuilder with a founding team that looks way more Silicon Valley than Home Depot.
It is licensed to build throughout southern New York State’s Westchester and Putnam Counties, northern New Jersey, and Fairfield County, Connecticut.
The concept is simple: After a lot is finalized, buyers (and their agent) use Welcome Homes’ online tools to choose a model, select a floor plan, apply a-la-carte finishes and work alongside the company’s concierge to reach closing.
Welcome Homes guarantees a six-month delivery after site approval, with which it assists.
The online experience lets the viewer navigate exteriors and interiors with an equal amount of flexibility. As a home comes together, it can be walked through and viewed via rendering in the same way a Matterport capture is navigated.
Everything from cabinet color to primary bathroom floor materials can be reviewed and “experienced” through a web browser. The experience is deliberate and reactive, immediately showing a user how changes compare and most importantly, what they’ll cost.
The left-hand navigation menu displays a list a rooms ready to be designed, and along the bottom, accent colors, floor types and tile designs can be selected.
It’s very clear this is a software company entering real estate — not vice versa.
Prices change on the fly within the interface as alterations are selected, leaving no buyer unaware of what the final number will be.
In fact, if any surprise expenses arise after materials are selected and fees agreed to, Welcome Homes covers it. It’s not charged back at closing.
Know that virtual home selection is not a new concept. Welcome Homes didn’t come up with the idea. However, it is the first homebuilder that leads with it — it wasn’t a nifty add-on built under industry pressure to innovate.
Model choices are limited to one for now, and the company doesn’t have the relationships in place yet to offer an extensive library of materials or customization. However, that limitation is its strength.
A more simplified process is what makes Welcome Homes’ version of new construction less prone to delays and decision-making nightmares, conceivably.
This is the ideal model for the tech-savvy urban apartment dweller with the ability to buy land and relocate.
The staff at Welcome Homes works alongside buyer agents to manage the construction, interface with municipal entities and ensure countertops and shingles show up on time.
And speaking of staff, in February, the company announced that Anthony Carrino, a cast member on HGTV’s Kitchen Cousins, will work with the company as its head of design, lending a great deal of authentic industry experience, and of course, a bit of notoriety.
It’s entirely possible that Welcome Homes has not fully vetted the construction world. There’s a reason experienced builders cost what they do, as there’s incredible value in knowing how to navigate the countless, and absolutely inevitable, hiccups that accompany home construction.
Even though the company is partnered with established homebuilders for the actual execution, there will be some hard growing pains on their road to national expansion.
Then again, Uber beat the taxi cab business, an industry known for treating upstart competitors like a raised deck nail does a bare foot. And even though Welcome Homes is legally a homebuilder, it’s merely a cloak shrouding a team of proven software entrepreneurs.
The way we buy homes is changing rapidly; it’s only a matter of time before construction gets automated, too.
Have a technology product you would like to discuss? Email Craig Rowe
Craig C. Rowe started in commercial real estate at the dawn of the dot-com boom, helping an array of commercial real estate companies fortify their online presence and analyze internal software decisions. He now helps agents with technology decisions and marketing through reviewing software and tech for Inman.
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