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The pandemic initiated a turning point for real estate, whereby technology suddenly had to step in and meet consumer needs in a new way.
Today, that pandemic-spurred access to technology in the transaction continues to fuel consumer demand for more seamless ways of doing business, speakers at Inman Connect Las Vegas said, during a panel called “From Offline to Online: How Consumer Behavior is Changing How Real Estate is Done.”
“When the pandemic began, people were forced to hunker down and they still wanted to purchase homes but you had to use tools online to narrow your search because you weren’t going to be out looking at as many homes,” Mike Lane of ShowingTime said. “If you can narrow that search by having richer media online … that will help you find the home more quickly, and I think that’s something that’s permanently changed.”
Will Holmes, of Opendoor, added that some of what consumers want is related to cyclical changes in the market, but other demands are merely related to pain points in the transaction that have never been completely alleviated. He said Opendoor is collaborating with agents to try and better address those pain points, such as making its instant offer process simpler during the pandemic, allowing agents to submit a brief questionnaire about the property and a short video of the home to receive a preliminary offer from Opendoor.
Meanwhile, Brian Gubernick, of Homeward, said the consumers’ need for speed and access was accelerated by the pandemic, spurring Homeward to continue developing products that help agents work more efficiently, such as a transaction progress tracker and an offer generator.
“Pre-pandemic we were already seeing this trend to speed and access,” Gubernick said. “We’re walking around, all of us, right now in our pocket, we carry the collective knowledge of mankind. We could pull it out and literally get an answer, and that was pre-pandemic. Since March 2020, we saw an acceleration of that — speed, ease, and I think the biggest thing, a need for transparency for agents and consumers alike. We want to know what’s going on, when it’s going on, how it’s being done and we want it delivered to us in a rather easy fashion.”
Agents have a unique position, Holmes added, in which they hold the consumers’ ears on many levels.
“Agents are in an incredible place,” he said. “The consumer is being hit with noise every which way. And the agent has this incredibly unique position to be a translator, to be a strategic advisor, to be a therapist, to walk through the respective options. To cut the noise, simplify and bring convenience, certainty, control and speed to the transaction.”
And technology can help agents better leverage that position with consumers. To see how, view the entire panel in the video above.