Welcome to the BYTE, where we serve up the latest home and tech news from the last week for you to sink your teeth into.

This week we’re taking a BYTE out of the winter housing market, BnB’s being all about the experience, new software that will make you wonder what you really said, new drone applications, and a map may never be the same. Dig in!


Who? What? Where?

Americans are staying put as mover rate hits historic low. Millennials are moving inward, away from the coasts and more new homes are on the way.

Tell Me More, Tell Me More

The U.S. Census Bureau put out a report on how many people are moving homes and the numbers are down 11.2% from last year putting us at the lowest percentage of movers basically ever. Of the people that are moving, millennials specifically, are moving away from major coastal cities and moving inward. 8/10 of the biggest cities in millennial growth were inland cities with most coastal cities showing declines. Also for those people that are moving, there are more homes on the market with a 26.4% jump from last year in work beginning on new homes.

Less people are moving than ever before Click To Tweet

Welcome, Ready For An Adventure?

Bed and Breakfasts Have Changed Forever

Airbnb is now interested in more than just where you are staying on vacation; now they want to help with what you’re doing while away as well. Airbnb Trips is the latest innovation from the brand, but follows about the same model. Now they allow hosts to not only advertise their place but also the experiences for the people there, basically turning them into personal tour guides for their cities. This is essentially shifting the company into a full on travel agency and the services are already rolling out in over 50 cities worldwide.

Airbnb newest addition Trips Click To Tweet

Take Notes

Did They Really Say That?

With Adobe’s new program the answer that question may soon be, “Maybe?” Project VoCo is basically the Photoshop for audio. The complex algorithm built into the program breaks down more than just the words spoken but the exact sounds and even in the beta version can sound very similar to a human’s voice. With only 20 minutes of someone talking you could effectively input that, the program breaks it down, and you can type in anything for it to spit out in that person’s voice. Cue many scandals in the near future.

Project VoCo from Adobe can sound like anyone Click To Tweet

Drones For Days

Drones are everywhere and people are actually doing pretty cool things with them. Intel and Disneyworld teamed up for one amazing drone show to celebrate this holiday season. Another example of drones being used for good is this new company called Fleetlights. The soon to be released service allows people, primarily in places without streetlights, to walk without wandering in the dark as a drone with a spotlight follows from above.

Let these light your way home Click To Tweet

I Believe I Can Fly

Google Earth VR now lets you feel like just that. The catch however is that it’s only really available on the very high-end VR sets for now. Regardless, flying around and exploring Paris or London as if you were there seems pretty great. Hopefully it becomes more accessible soon…

Google Earth VR is pretty cool Click To Tweet

Totally Unrelated

Happy TurkeyDay

Before we all gather around and eat delicious food this weekend, here is a video of some kids trying out the thanksgiving sides from the past several decades.

Watch kids taste test holiday side from the past decades Click To Tweet


Welcome to the BYTE, where we serve up the latest home and tech news from the last week for you to sink your teeth into.

This week we’re taking a BYTE out of the decision, top home sites shifting media gears, a new app to help you measure twice, how VR is changing home design, and some new materials working their way into everyday life. Dig in!


The Race Is Over

As pretty much everyone on planet earth knows the elections are over and Donald Trump won the U.S. presidential race.

What Do People Think? What Else Happened?

The final presidential result was a bit a surprise for many as almost all pre polls put Hillary Clinton ahead. Many of the top builders put out statements regarding the results. The general sentiment is that Donald Trump should be good for the housing industry, however his actual plans have been vague so far. Another big winner on election night was public transit around the country especially in Atlanta, LA, and Seattle. These cities (and more across the country) passed measures to increase funding to many public transit programs across the cities. In other related news, this polarizing election has had people considering the move to Canada, here are the real numbers on where and who is interested in the move north.

With the election over see the winners, losers, and the ones leaving... Click To Tweet

There’s Change A Brewin’

Coming To A Site Near You is looking to rapidly ramp up the use of 3D tours and high quality video. The goal is to find ways to engage more buyers in their listings. is actively trying to more seamlessly integrate 3D tours such as Matterport tours. is ramping up its use of 3D tours Click To Tweet

Take Notes

Scan We Build It?

A new app from Occiptal called Canvas allows users to scan a room with an iPad and use the scan for measurements. With the help of a special attachment on the front of your iPad you can stand in one place and slowly pan across the room and get a 3D scan that will accurately measure distances and spaces within the area. It looks pretty easy and has a “send to CAD” feature that could be very helpful for designer and builders.

New app lets you fully scan a room with an iPad Click To Tweet

See It To Believe It

Architects are really getting into the Virtual Reality thing. With the new advances in VR, architects are able to design buildings in the virtual world, see where things fit within the home, look at the lighting throughout the day, and so much more. They are also able to show their customers pretty close to exactly how things are going to look and can help them really fulfill and build their dream property. As this tech pushes forward it could change the designing part of building all together.

Architects are really getting into VR Click To Tweet

Welcome To The Party

As the virtual world continues to push forward it can be easy to forget about the physical realm that is also making innovative products. From ceramic tiles made from recycled beverage containers that are stronger and more weather proof to colored conductive inks that look like normally printed ink but can carry an electric current through them.

Check out the latest in material innovation Click To Tweet

Totally Unrelated

Don’t Look Down

If you’re deathly afraid of heights probably don’t watch these French people surf on a zip line and then BASE jump from the board.

Surfing and BASE jumping mixed is not for the faint of heart Click To Tweet


Welcome to the BYTE, where we serve up the latest home and tech news from the last week for you to sink your teeth into.

This week we’re taking a BYTE out of the ups and downs of prices, a big decision tomorrow, another unfortunate recall, a fresh light on yard/home security, and a band pushing VR forward. Dig in!


What’s On The Up And Up?

Not San Francisco or New York, at least not the rent. For the first time in a long time, rental prices are going down in top markets.

Why Is This Happening?

The average rent across the U.S. is continuing to rise. However, 60% of the top 10 markets showed a decrease. San Fran, NYC, Honolulu, San Diego, and Miami all showed a decline in average rent because of an influx of supply. We are in a historic boom of apartment and condo builds and these are driving down prices and increasing incentives (think first couple months of rent free living.) For some of these cities it is the first decrease in over a decade. If this trend continues it might not be a good influence on getting people to start buying houses…

Average rent is up, but many major cities show a decrease in average rent Click To Tweet

Decisions, Decisions

It All Comes Down To This

Tomorrow is the day. Tuesday, November 8th has finally come and we will finally have reached the end of this long election season. No matter who you are voting for it is important to know the facts and details to make an educated vote. BuilderOnline recently put out some details around a hot topic this election season, immigration and the role it plays in the housing industry. Interesting points they called out were that 15% of all construction jobs are manned by unauthorized immigrants and a good portion of new immigrants are strong workers looking to get in the workforce. There are several measures up for a vote this election so be informed and go vote!

Know what you are voting for when you go out tomorrow Click To Tweet

Take Notes

Keep ‘Em Coming Back

Samsung has issued another recall, this time on 34 models of their top load washing machines. Some of these machines were manufactured as long ago as 2011 and they are being recalled because the top lid has a tendency pop off during the wash cycle. Samsung is offering repairs, replacements, or full refund (if purchased 30 days ago).

Samsung recalls their top load washing machines Click To Tweet

Cue Police Chase Flashbacks

The newest in smart home tech gadgets, we have the Sunflower Home Awareness System. The system has a series of smart sensors in your yard that detect when something, or someone, is there that shouldn’t be. When system decides it wasn’t an animal or person that lives at the house it deploys a drone to fly in the air and shine a spotlight on the unexpected person. When it will be available to the public wasn’t announced, but we can’t wait to see it on the next episode of Cops.

The new drone security for your home Click To Tweet

Rooftop Concerts

Everyone is getting on the VR train. Avenged Sevenfold jumped in the virtual game in a big way. They announced an album with a live VR concert on a Hollywood rooftop. There were several cameras that could be watched from and drones flying around the building with cameras as well. It was quite the event and might be the start to more live broadcasted events allowing people anywhere to watch.

Avenged Sevenfold holds VR concert on Hollywood rooftop Click To Tweet

Totally Unrelated

No, No, No

Gmail’s new app will give you 5 seconds after you hit send to undo and get that message back you didn’t mean to send to your ex.

Gmail mobile now lets you unsend your emails Click To Tweet
Budgeting for builders

Learn what percentage of overall revenues to allocate to marketing, and how to divide expenses between digital, print, events, signage, and other marketing vehicles.

Budgeting can be a frightening proposition for marketers in home building. Many are operating without a firm budget in place, and without guidance as to how to divide that budget between marketing programs.

The “touch and go” approach is rarely successful in home building, where costs of goods are higher than in most industries and profit margins are slimmer. Out of necessity, the study of profitable budgeting for home builders is evolving toward a science. We recently invited one of the industry’s foremost experts in optimizing marketing budgets for ROI to present a webinar for our builders on the topic and here is what they learned.

Here Kevin Oakley of shares his thoughts on builder budgeting.

How to Determine the Size of Your Budget

In many industries, 10 to 20 percent of revenues are allocated toward marketing budgets. In home building, Kevin advises that 1 percent of revenue is a great place to start. A budget under 0.7 percent of revenues is under-investing, and at over 1.5 percent, it’s too easy to make undisciplined investments. 1 percent of revenues sets a tight, but ideal framework for most builders. This does not include model home furnishings, cell phone usage for sales teams, and traveling expenses. The budget is purely for marketing and advertising.

50 Percent for Digital Advertising and Development

100 percent of today’s home buyers are influenced by the internet. Young, old, urban, and rural buyers all use the internet to find their new homes. Even elderly and technologically unsophisticated buyers rely on people they know to do their online research. So online is where you want to focus your marketing budget.

Online advertising is targeted, allowing you to identify the prospects most likely to buy, and avoid wasting money advertising to general audiences who are not looking and are not likely to be interested, as with billboards.

Just as important, online advertising is trackable. We can learn from prospects’ online behaviors by tracking clicks, timing visits, and placing a cost on each action. This leads us to a concrete ROI for each investment. Many builders have been slow to realize that traditional forms of advertising no longer justify their costs.

Half of the 50 percent should be spent on actual advertising. This includes search engine optimization, adwords, social platforms, syndication sites, display ads, and listings. The other half should be spent on digital development. This includes your website platform, periodic website redesigns, mobile applications, call tracking, CRM platforms, web tools, web hosting services, and anything else that supports your online infrastructure.

Content is King

Your development costs will fluctuate from year to year. In years when a site redesign is required, there will be few dollars left over. But in most years, your development costs will be lower, so Kevin suggests allocating the rest of your development budget to content development.

Quality content brings prospects from noticing your brand to being interested enough to visit your homes and communities. Conversely, poor content squanders the investments required to drive people to your sites. To effectively engage site visitors, you’ll need virtual tours, professional photography, video, 3-D renderings, detailed descriptions, and animations, among the many other content options that your new and existing home competitors are using.

12-20 Percent for Signage

Quality signage that reflects the quality of your homes is worth the premium. “Sign on” with a dependable vendor who can meet your needs on short notice and provide amazing service.

Use directional signs within a radius of a few blocks from your communities. Signs placed miles out create a poor customer experience and are rarely effective. Billboards are not advised as they are not targeted to home buyers, and drivers either don’t care or don’t look at them.

5-8 Percent for Events

Because the experience of walking through a model home is so vastly superior to the typical existing home, events that create these opportunities are worthwhile investments. Allocate 5-8 percent of your marketing budget to model home grand openings, realtor and presale events. Also consider catering house warming parties for new home buyers who can get 30-40 friends to experience their brand new home. It’s even better if you can have a representative on hand to answer any questions. This guerrilla tactic usually results in high quality leads.

2-6 Percent for Collateral

The majority of home buyers co-shop with friends and family who advise them in the process. Often, these co-shoppers will make visits to your model homes, so it pays to have updated collateral for them, representing your current available homes, prices, options, and incentives. The collateral is also especially useful to enable your sales staff and realtors to sell your homes.

Use this material to promote your online content like virtual tours and videos. These experiences will advance buyers’ interest, and they’re trackable behaviors. Maximize the ROI of your content investments by promoting them in all of your collateral.

2-4 Percent for Gifts

Gifts don’t have to be extravagant to convey thoughtfulness. But some items can be perceived as “See you later” or “We’re done now” expressions. Thoughtful gifts like branded cupcakes suggest that you truly do care about your customers’ relationships with your brand and your people. People tell their friends about positive experiences like this.

Divide your gift budget between customers and realtors, and give gifts during the construction process in addition to move-in day. You don’t need to spend much, but just make sure the gifts you give reflect your sincere appreciation.

3 Percent on Innovation

Kevin recommends spending on innovation, and his suggestions include some of the content services BDX offers home builders, like virtual tours of every model in sales centers, and digital design centers online and in sales offices. Innovations like these don’t just enhance engagement and drive interest; they solidify your brand as an innovative builder. This can subconsciously suggest many positive things to buyers about your homes, including storm resistance, digital readiness, and energy efficiency.


If you have a remaining budget, Kevin suggests avoiding television and radio ads. These mass media vehicles—if they should be considered by any home builders—should only be used by those with more than a million dollars in annual marketing budget. The remainder of marketing budgets is better spent on targeted marketing efforts.

If you’d like to learn more about how to allocate your marketing budget for maximum ROI, you can watch our recent webinar with Kevin Oakley.


Kevin Oakley of is the author of Presale Without Fail: the Secret to Launching New Communities and Phases with Maximum Results. He has more than a decade of experience running marketing and sales operations for home builders. Kevin has worked for two different multi-billion dollar revenue builders (NVR and Maronda Homes), as well as for privately owned Heartland Homes. AT NVR, Kevin had full operational responsibility for land, construction, and sales for two divisions in the Pittsburgh MSA. At Heartland, Kevin’s management helped to grow sales by 15-20 percent each year during the downturn. Remarkably, he achieved these results while shrinking the marketing budget each year.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Q: Why is the suggested percentage of revenue for marketing budgets so much lower in home building than in other home service industries? A: If you’re coming from another industry, the suggested 1 percent can be a shock. But we’re not including model home expenses, utilities, commissions, and salaries, which would raise the total cost of sales to 5-7 percent. For pure marketing, based on our industry model, where the cost of goods sold are significantly higher, where sticks, bricks, and land account for a higher percentage of our sales price, most builders can’t afford to spend 10-15 percent. It simply wouldn’t be profitable with a profit margin of 10-20 percent.
  1. Q: What about investing in directional signage for communities that we’re just starting on Phase 1 (and there are no models)? A: It would be more advisable at that point to spend on digital advertising, where you could legitimately provide a way for people to experience the homes yet to be built than just to drive them to a trailer and a salesperson. Focus on positive customer experiences.
  1. Q: Will the CRM platform like Constant Contact go into the development budget? A: Yes, web tools like a CRM platform figure into this budget, as well as any online software packages you’re using to track and measure online marketing.
  1. Q: What are the most effective social platforms? A: It’s all about Facebook and Instagram right now because of the targeting and discoverability they provide. Some builders see some traffic from Pinterest, but until we see significant, repeatable results from other platforms, we suggest focusing your efforts on Facebook and Instagram.
  1. Q: How can we use direct mail effectively? A: The best way is to target small niches of your most likely buyers, but social media is a much more cost-effective platform for doing just that. If you are going to use direct mail, avoid mass mailing neighborhoods. It’s all about knowing your ideal prospect and targeting them again and again. Frequency matters. Also, remember that currently you can target the majority of those you would reach via direct mail through targeted Facebook ads at a much lower cost.
  1. Q: Our market is heavy on military personnel. Do you think we should advertise in the local military magazines? This would be something for the innovation part of your budget. It’s something that may be worth testing and tracking to see if it’s a worthwhile long-term investment. Test if for a placement or two, measure results, and make a decision from there.


Welcome to the BYTE, where we serve up the latest home and tech news from the last week for you to sink your teeth into.

This week we’re taking a BYTE out of 2017, discover why the traditional roof is under attack, we’ll look into some brand new products, we’ll also look at a revamp of an older product, and see who is being the bouncer for candy. Dig in!


Everyone Is Looking To 2017 pulled in a little research to do some forecasting for 2017. The projections look promising and the within the article there are some great numbers and stats to help look towards the new year.

How Far Away Is 2017 Again?

62 days until 2017 starts. That will fly by so it might be time to start planning. The forecast is decent, not sipping mojitos on a beach perfect but definitely not bad. The analyst is showing that demand will outweigh supply for at least the next five years, Housing Starts look like they will continue to rise but not as fast as some may hope; all in all it looks like everything should continue to rise. The biggest worry what the Federal Reserve is going to do and how that will impact mortgage interest rates. Buckle up folks and get ready for whatever 2017 has in store.

The forecast for the housing market in 2017 is here Click To Tweet

Raise The Roof

Keeping Things Clean

On Friday evening Tesla’s CEO, Elon Musk, unveiled the Tesla Solar Roof. Tesla is trying to take over clean energy in every part of consumer’s lives. The Solar Roof is beautiful and hardly distinguishable from a regular roof. The tiles are textured glass that allows sun to shine through to the solar cells below. The partner in crime to the roof is the new Powerwall 2 that will store the energy from the roof to power the home even when the sun isn’t shining. These won’t become available for at least 9 months and the pricing has yet to be released as well. With this unplanned/unexpected announcement we’re left wondering, what is Tesla working on next?

Say hello to the Tesla Solar Roof no one saw coming Click To Tweet

Take Notes

An Apple A Day

When two tech giants have events in the same week people are going to start talking. Apple came out with TV and new MacBook Pros with 4 of the exact same ports and a new touch bar so emojis (and much more) are always at your fingertips. What everyone was really talking about was Microsoft. They released a new Surface Studio with new tools that go directly on the screen to help with creating basically anything, the whole thing is movable and overall looks amazing. They also updated programs such as paint to allow anyone to make/capture basically anything and make it 3D. Microsoft might have finally taken a bite out of Apple.

Microsoft may be the cool new thing to talk about now... Click To Tweet

Rocking Audio

Many industries have been rocked by a digital disruption in the past decade, taxis, travel/hotels, and so on and so forth. Execs from Netflix and NPR are looking to cause such a disruption in the radio industry by reinventing podcasts, with their new project 60db. Podcasts have already been on the rise and have been climbing in popularity for years, thank you Sarah Koenig. 60db is creating fun, informative, and easily digestible pieces of content with an algorithm that tracks and suggests new content for consumers. 60db is hoping to start making waves, audio waves.

60db looks to cause a digital disruption in the audio world Click To Tweet

Did You Check The Label At The Door?

If you’re thinking about candy labels, and your answer is yes you do, then you are not alone. Redfin’s latest fun study showed that 83% of parents check their kid’s Halloween candy. This study also found that 62% of parents secretly eat their child’s candy, so munch away parents because you are not alone. Happy Halloween Everyone!

83% of parents check their kid's Halloween candy Click To Tweet

Totally Unrelated

But Still Kind Of Related This Time

Just in case you’ve always wanted Elizabeth Banks to brag and talk up your house, now has you covered.

For when you need Elizabeth Banks to brag about your home Click To Tweet