Sourced from various real estate pros all over the country, this recurring column features stories of what agents are seeing on the front lines and what others can draw from those experiences. This time, Lindsey Hood explains how technology helped an Austin-based brokerage during the global pandemic.

Sourced from various real estate pros all over the country, this recurring column features stories of what agents are seeing on the front lines and what others can draw from those experiences. 

Almost overnight, it seems like we’ve found ourselves on the brink of a recession, dealing with an abundance of uncertainty and a housing market headed for a likely shift. With so much change, one thing is for certain — our clients still turn to us for expert guidance and counsel in these trying times.

At Jovio, an Austin-based real estate brokerage, we witnessed this first-hand as we began learning to adapt to this ever-changing environment. Today, we’d like to share a recent success story, in hopes that the tools and strategies we’re using to navigate this new normal helps others. 

As the coronavirus began ramping up in parts of the U.S. a few weeks ago, one of our listing clients reached out to ask what they should do given the current situation. Their home was already listed on the market, and they were in the midst of purchasing a new construction home. However, they were growing concerned about their own safety and the direction the market was headed.

After reviewing the facts and taking inventory of their goals, we decided to continue with the purchase of the new home. On the selling side, as an additional precaution for showings, we chose to implement digital methods to ease their concerns. This involved offering virtual home tours and pre-screening buyers prior to approving in-person showings.

When we received a showing request, we worked remotely as a team using Front to keep in constant contact with our client and the cooperating agents. As a result, agent communications weren’t tied to one inbox. Everyone on our team had visibility into the conversation.

To accommodate the showing and pre-screen the potential buyer, we first reached out to the buyer’s agent to see if their client would be interested in viewing a previously recorded walk-through of the home instead of appearing in person.

The agent and client agreed. Tools like the Matterport 3D walk-through and even client cell phone tours are a great way to gauge the interest of buyers before entertaining an in-person showing.

The agent showed the client the video. They decided they were still interested but wanted to ensure the property looked the same in person as it did in photos and video.

After confirming with the buyer’s agent that he wasn’t experiencing flu-like symptoms or had knowingly been exposed to a high-risk situation, he agreed to come to the house alone and show it to his clients via Skype. After Skyping with their agent, the buyers felt comfortable enough to write an offer.

Although presenting offers to clients in person is a common practice, given the need for social distancing, this was not an option. Fortunately, at Jovio, we’ve built an in-house tool to help us alert clients to offers, present them digitally and review financials with an interactive net proceeds calculator.

While looking at this dashboard together, we were able to review all aspects of the offer over the phone and execute it quickly with electronic signature.

In hindsight, this deal could have turned out much differently had we not had some of these tools in place. Luckily, we were able to avoid an alternative outcome by:

  • Using collaborative communication tools like Front so that our entire team is kept in the loop and can maintain visibility into the transaction to keep it moving forward.
  • Finding alternative ways to conduct showings during a time when buyers are unable to view homes in person.
  • Leveraging creative technology solutions to communicate with our clients and keep them informed, even from afar.

But even with all of these tools at our disposal, a large gap still exists when it comes to managing a fully digital transaction. How can we continue to automate the transaction while leveraging all of the work we’ve already done? As we invite title, mortgage, home inspectors, appraisers and other third parties into the transaction, how can we maintain a digital-first experience?

We may not have the answers to these questions yet, but now more than ever, it’s apparent that technology isn’t just a nice-to-have thing, but a necessity for the future of real estate transactions.

Do you have a tale to tell? Please shoot us an email.

Lindsey Hood is the content marketing manager at Jovio in Austin, Texas. Connect with her on LinkedIn.

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