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A decade ago, real estate transactions were mostly local affairs. Despite the dot com bubble around the turn of the century, real estate was still hanging on to its analog procedures, and consumers were mostly okay with that, according to Spruce Holdings CEO Patrick Burns.

But in the years since, something changed.

“Consumers are demanding convenience,” Burns said Friday at Inman Connect Las Vegas. “They’re demanding transparency because the rest of their lives are like that.”

Patrick Burns

Burns explored how the real estate transaction is changing today during a panel talk titled “Closing process getting a major shake-up.” His company specializes in title and escrow services.

As frequently noted, consumers today have smooth, transparent experiences in every aspect of their lives — it’s easy to request a ride, order food, or buy a mattress with the tap of a button on an iPhone. So they’re expecting more from the real estate transaction process.

And increasingly, companies are trying to satisfy that desire. Redfin, for example, lets home shoppers request a home tour from their website. And a whole slew of iBuying companies will give sellers a quote almost instantly, then close on the property in a fraction of the time it takes for a conventional transaction.

These types of experiences have given consumers the expectation that every transaction in their lives should be similarly smooth and straightforward. As a result, Burns’ argument went, they want — or demand — that type of service when closing a real estate deal.

Burns also pointed out that a significant amount of venture capital is pouring into the real estate industry in an effort to create these types of seamless, transparent closing experiences. In other words, there are fortunes to be made for the people who figure this out.

However the trend plays out, though, the stakes are high and reverberate across various slices of the industry. Burns noted that consumers associate their agents with their closing experiences, which is great when the deal goes smoothly. But if there are problems, that can cloud a consumer’s impression not just of their title or escrow service, but of their agents as well.

And that means it’s incumbent on everyone involved in real estate transactions to push for better, smoother experiences.

“There has to be this understanding,” Burns added of everyone involved in a deal, “that the reputation is linked.”

Email Jim Dalrymple II

Watch the entire conversation with Burns in this video of the ICLV session. 

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