The coronavirus is forcing an “unprecedented” shift in the real estate business, according to a new survey, with industry professionals placing a higher importance on digital services even as stress levels rise.
States Title, a digital title startup, published the survey results in a report Tuesday. The report is based on responses the company, via a third-party consulting firm, gathered in mid August from 256 lenders, real estate agents and title agents. The idea behind the survey was to gauge how the pandemic is reshaping the real estate business.
Among other things, the findings revealed that there is a widespread belief that “digital readiness” is critical for the industry to survive next year. The report on the findings describes these attitudes as a “transformation,” and States Title CEO Max Simkoff added that “we are witnessing an unprecedented overnight shift in the structural foundation of the real estate market.”
“The real estate industry has gotten a long overdue wake-up call and has been forced to push the fast forward button on innovation,” Simkoff added in the report. “Ready or not — the time has come to adopt and embrace technological change. It’s the ultimate stress test for the entire industry.”
Specifically, the survey also found that safety issues related to in-person contact are the top concern among both buyers and sellers. It’s no surprise, then, that 79 percent of the survey respondents said that “wearing a mask is a necessity” and that they won’t conduct business without wearing one.
Despite such precautions, however, 39 percent of respondents said that someone at their company has tested positive for COVID-19, 22 percent said they have been exposed and 9 percent said they themselves have contracted the virus.
More troubling still, the report states that “36 percent of real estate stakeholders felt like their personal safety has been compromised in order to conduct a real estate business transaction during the pandemic.” And 43 percent of respondents said their stress levels have increased either “somewhat” or “significantly.”
Loneliness is apparently increasing as well, and more than a third of respondents additionally said the pandemic has strained their work relationships.
That said, the survey’s findings weren’t all bad news.
Among other more positive developments, 40 percent of respondents said their company leadership has been more empathetic, 21 percent said the pandemic prompted their companies to adopt overdue innovations and 23 percent said the pandemic has caused a positive environmental impact thanks to digitization.
The States Title results were released just days after Inman published the results of its own pandemic survey. In the case of Inman’s survey, the results suggested real estate agents and brokers are seeing a strong recovery in the housing market — better, in fact, than many seemed to anticipate — though they envision some measures such as social distancing dragging on for months.
Inman’s survey was the second of its kind, and the results also showed a marked improvement from the attitudes about the pandemic that were common months ago.
However, despite shifting attitudes, the pandemic continues to wreak havoc on the country; on Thursday President Trump revealed that he, his wife and a top aide all had the virus. By Friday, Trump had been moved to a hospital for treatment.
Despite recent turns of events, though, real estate professionals have remained an optimistic bunch. In addition to Inman’s findings, the States Title survey found that “a whopping 79 percent said despite the pandemic, they are committed to continuing their job/career in real estate.”