Keeping costs down is essential for home builders to maximize their margins, but it's possible that builders aren't as price conscious as we thought. According to the 2015 Brand Use Study conducted by ProSales' sister brand Builder, price is not the most important product selection factor for builders--product performance is. Dealers will be interested to know that product availability from a builders' dealer also outranked price in many categories.

Ranking Product Selection Factors

For the study, Builder surveyed nearly 2,300 home builders about their preferred brands across 70 product categories. The survey inquired about brand familiarity, which brands that builders use most frequently and have used in the last two years, and how brands rank on quality. Additionally, for 45 of the categories, respondents used a 1- to-7 scale to rank the importance of up to eight product selection factors including price, availability, performance, and ease of installation.

In 43 out of 45 categories, product performance ranked as the most important factor. Price came out on top only in the stock cabinets category, and availability from a builder's dealer ranked first in the carpet category. Indeed, the availability of a product through a builder's dealer scored higher than price in importance in 28 product categories. Warranty also out-scored price in 24 product categories. Price was among the least-influencing factors in the housewrap and wood-clad windows categories where it ranked sixth out of eight factors, leading only manufacturer/dealer relationship and green or sustainable features.

To that end, dealers will want to give special attention to another area of interest. In 41 categories, builders were asked to rank "strong relationship with the manufacturer or dealer" as one of the product selection factors. In each product category for which it was an option, dealer or manufacturer relationship ranked last or second-to-last in importance.

Trying Something New

In addition to naming their brand preferences, builders shared another interesting metric in the 2015 Brand Use Study. According to the research, nearly two-thirds of surveyed builders (63%) say they're "somewhat more" or "much more" willing to try brands other than the ones they're currently specifying. Availability of new or advanced features, and design trends toward new and different home styles are driving the interest in new products.

The portion of builders willing to try new brands stays relatively even across regions, number of unit built, and average sale price, though more expensive homes seem to be an easier venue to try something new. A full 70% of builders of $500,000 homes and up are willing to try new products.

With that in mind, as builders focus on local availability of products that will perform well, dealers will want to invest in relationships and customer experience to keep those builders coming back to try something new.