Schuber Mitchell Homes' Remote-Access Model Home: Using Smart Home Solutions to Serve Home Shoppers

Home in different shades of brown with the front door beside a large garage that opens to a driveway.

Knock knock. Who’s there? Schuber Mitchell Homes uses a remote-access model home in Joplin, Mo., to give potential homebuyers an option to go on a self-guided tour of the home.Bottom Photo: Potential homebuyers stop by the model home and ring sales associates who can allow them into the home remotely.

If you’re out touring new home communities in the Joplin, Mo., area these days, you may come across a slightly atypical community.

There’s no immediately visible dedicated sales office, but there is a lovely model home — maybe the office is in there? You walk up to the door, where a sign instructs you to ring the doorbell. You push the button, the bell chimes and a voice answers, “Welcome to Schuber Mitchell Homes! Thanks for coming by. Please go in and have a look.”

You’ve just encountered Schuber Mitchell Homes’ remote-access model home, which allows prospective buyers to take a self-guided tour.

All in the App

The remote-access capabilities are thanks to a home security app from Vivint Inc., a leading provider of smart home automation and security technology and solutions. 

The system Schuber Mitchell Homes uses includes a doorbell camera and remote door access for locking and unlocking. The doorbell camera provides streaming live video of anyone at the door, plus a built-in mic and speaker for two-way talk capability with visitors. Vivint’s app allows users to control these functions in real-time. There is also a camera inside of the home and a motion detector as part of the security system.

When customers ring the doorbell, the Vivint app notifies Schuber Mitchell’s receptionists on an iPad at the sales office so they can welcome the guests using the two-talk function and unlock the door remotely to let them in.

“There are four or five of us, including our new home sales specialists, that have the app on our phones as well,” says Christian Shultz, marketing director for Schuber Mitchell Homes. “That way, there’s always someone who can respond quickly because if you don’t answer in time, they will leave.”

Once inside, customers can wander through the home at their own pace. Signage throughout highlights various features and details that would be included on a personal tour. 

“We’ve found this set up to be very beneficial,” Shultz says. “A lot of people like to walk through a home without having a salesperson looking over their shoulder.

“At the end, people are instructed to leave the door unlocked as they leave and we lock it remotely,” he explains. “So the home is always locked unless someone comes to tour it.”

Convenience and Customer Service

The Vivint app has been particularly helpful in showing 
Schuber Mitchell Homes’ model in Joplin.

With homes built throughout the metropolitan Joplin area, Schuber Mitchell has its main sales office/model home and design center in the Anderson Estates neighborhood of Webb City, just north of Joplin. When the builder decided to open a 1,500-square-foot model home in Joplin, the Vivint technology offered an alternative to keeping the home staffed all day, every day. 

“It kind of came out of necessity,” Shultz says. “The model home there is fully staged, but it’s not staffed at all.”

The inspiration for installing the Vivint technology in the model home came from one of Schuber Mitchell Homes’ owners, who has a Vivint security system in his own home.

And just up the street from the sales office in Webb City, another model, featuring the builder’s more contemporary floor plan and design, also has the remote-access system.

While Schuber Mitchell shows these model homes by appointment, the remote-access capability helps capture those house hunters out casually browsing neighborhoods or spur-of-the-moment shoppers. And with such widespread properties, having remote-access contact with customers keeps the sales specialists and sales associates from having to rush back and forth to Joplin every time someone stops by. 

Ideally though, if a sales specialist is available, “we try to meet the customer there as they’re finishing up the tour,” Shultz adds.

Visitors are also encouraged to visit the builder’s main model and design center in Webb City and the builder has seen an increase in traffic there as a result. If people have questions during the tour, they can always ring the doorbell to reach someone, but “we encourage them to call a sales specialist with questions. That way we can collect their contact information,” Shultz says.

Now, Schuber Mitchell is in the process of building another model near the one in Joplin and this home, too, will be set up with the remote-access capability.

“The Vivint technology has made a big difference,” Shultz says. “It allows us to provide a personal touch and customers like it.”

Judy L. Marchman is a freelance writer and editor, with 20 years of magazine and book publishing experience. She covers a variety of subjects, including home-related topics. Her work has appeared in Kentucky Monthly, Keeneland Magazine and the Official Kentucky Derby Souvenir Magazine, among other publications.

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