• Online offer-submission tools may have to overcome significant skepticism from consumers to receive widespread adoption.
  • Many respondents to Owners.com's survey may not have considered using e-signature software and email to make an offer to be "making a purchase offer online"

Calls from industry consultants for real estate agents and brokers to embrace technology can sometimes reach a deafening pitch.

But although there’s no doubt that consumers are increasingly leaning on the Internet to complete aspects of the homebuying and selling process, many likely homebuyers are leery of conducting one aspect of a transaction online: making an offer.

That’s according to a recent survey released by Owners.com, a brokerage firm that provides for-sale-by-owner services and virtual representation by agents.

Just 1 in 4

Only 27 percent of 1,000 likely homebuyers surveyed by Owners.com would make a purchase offer online, according to the survey.

Some agents would assume that many respondents didn’t interpret “online” to include email and e-signature software, like DocuSign. Many respondents surely must have interpreted online to only refer to offer-submission tools on websites, they would say.

Non-investors have often been uncomfortable submitting offers on Hubzu, an online home-buying platform owned by Owners.com’s parent company, Altisource, according to Terry Reed, a West Palm Beach, Florida-based real estate agent at Keller Williams Realty Palm Beach Partners.

But virtually all homebuyers and sellers have no problem e-signing offers and submitting them through email, he said.

So perhaps the only firm takeaway from the finding is that skepticism from consumers may present a significant barrier adoption of website-based offer-submission tools.

Tools gaining traction

That said, such tools have gained plenty of traction in at least some markets.

Todd Miller, a Las Vegas-based broker-owner whose firm specializes in selling bank-owned properties, requires buyer’s agents both to write and submit offers on some of its listings using Broker Brain, an online property management system, in addition to sending paper copies of those offers.

The rest of Miller’s listings are owned by mortgage giant Fannie Mae, which requires buyers to submit offers using its own offer-submission tool online, said Miller, who owns Nevada Realty Solutions.

“Most of our listings are with Fannie,” Miller said. “People do it without complaint.”

Either way, it’s clear that many consumers are commonly turning to the Internet to conduct some other aspects of the home-buying process.

Nearly three-quarters of consumers said they would use online sites to search for properties and just over half said they’re inclined to book home tours online — a finding that bodes well for the growing number of “showings-on-demand” tools.

The survey also showed sizable interest in tapping the Internet for financing, with 43 percent of respondents saying they would consider online financing products.

Email Teke Wiggin

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