Even in the best of times, buying or selling a home can be challenging. That’s particularly true in the wake of COVID-19’s impact on the economy and how we live our daily lives. As homebuyers and sellers grapple with their new reality, technology can help reduce or even eliminate the friction that traditional transactions have faced for decades.
These changes may have seemed quick in response to COVID-19. For many agents, they’ll prove to be a competitive edge for months and years to come.
Virtual showings become second nature
The industry felt an immediate shift with showings transitioning into fully digital experiences. The goal was no longer just to sell the home – in our new world, keeping clients safe is the absolute top priority.
As a result, agents have become more nimble by leaning into technology. Some have even seen a marked increase in prospects, as more strategic virtual listings invited new buyers locally and from across the country.
Tom Hall, a top-selling agent in Oklahoma City, got creative. He met with a seller in the home’s garage, 8 feet apart, to exchange a set of disinfected keys. Armed with booties, a mask, gloves, and disinfecting wipes, Hall completed his Matterport capture for the home’s listing. For another, he hosted a live Facebook Watch Party, driving almost 100 views of the “open house.”
“It’s not the easiest thing to do, but it’s worth it if we can stay safe and also sell this house,” Hall said.
Accelerating consumer options – and need for trust
In uncertain times, the most important thing any agent can provide is trust and transparency. That’s particularly true now, with many individuals’ lives upended by COVID-19.
Hall is optimistic that sales will continue to happen in his area — as long as real estate continues to be deemed essential — and is bullish about his ability to close a listing as long as he can build trust with his clients and provide private showings to potential buyers.
In many ways, technology can help enable that trust. Take agent matching platforms, which show clients objective data based on agents’ performance in order to find them the best agent as quickly, efficiently, and safely as possible. These tools, and the need for trust, will become the new standard of how to do business moving forward.
Streamlining transaction mechanics
Now more than ever, technology has empowered agents, buyers, and sellers in new ways. As shelter in place orders have stretched on, the move to digital has impacted the entire transaction process, as well.
Over 56% of agents reported that they adopted e-signature and digital closing tools during COVID-19. In addition, 56% reported that they’re working with inspectors to implement new safety protocols around property inspections. For some, innovations around the iBuyer model might be the best option, enabling clients to sell their home, receive immediate liquidity, and make an offer on their dream home without sacrificing their upside.
The real estate industry has begun to show a glimmer of recovery. Innovation will have a lasting impact, ultimately paving the way to make certain aspects of the transaction process easier, more efficient, and more accessible. For Hall, he’s already felt a lasting impact.
“This is going to change the way sellers and buyers act around listings and real estate transactions for a long time after everything is said and done,” Hall said. “After this is over, we’re going to see a different world.”
With these changes in place, the industry is well-positioned to return to its former strength – and, perhaps, even stronger than before.