COVID-19 has changed pretty much everything about normal life. Shopping, hanging out with friends, going to see a movie, or going for a bite to eat is nothing like what it was prior to March, 2020. So, it only makes sense that the home buying process has changed too.
However, it would be a mistake to blame the change in consumer behaviors solely on COVID-19. People have been adapting to more modern ways of transacting and doing business for years. COVID-19 simply made these changes more necessary than before. But, now that the changes are in effect, it’s entirely possible the way people buy and sell homes will never go back to the way things were.
Anyone who has sold a home knows the double-edged sword of the open house process. They were often valuable tools for realtors to get lots of people in the door within a relatively short amount of time. However, it also meant sellers had to leave their home for an entire Saturday afternoon while strangers wandered around.
From a buyer’s point of view, an open house was a great way to see a home without having to make an appointment. On the other hand, going out to multiple open houses meant spending an entire afternoon driving around from open house to open house.
Companies and realtors have had to rapidly adapt during the pandemic to digitize the home buying process from start to finish. The days of having groups of unmasked people walk through a home unannounced are largely gone now. Technology has stepped up to bridge the gap.
Companies like Opendoor and Zillow are making big plays in the real estate space when it comes to technology. There are other tech companies in the space as well looking to jump on the opportunity. The digital open house is one of the first real estate experiences that is being moved to a digital format. Now, with video walkthroughs and 3D floorplans, open houses can be experienced on a laptop or smartphone at any hour of the day. No more limited windows for buyers to squeeze in as many open houses on a busy Saturday and no more loss of use for the sellers.
The world has become used to the e-commerce buying experience. Someone who is accustom to shopping on Amazon while laying in bed at night to get free delivery for the next day may be more willing to experience a more digital home buying process. Instead of working their schedule around available showings, people are now able to experience a home when it works best for them, wherever they may be, in a way that they are already comfortable with given existing online shopping habits.
This mindset extends beyond the basic open house or typical showing experience as well. Why should someone need to meet in a lawyer’s office to sign documents that are largely standardized? Or why should they stop by their realtor’s office to sign off on an offer? There is technology available to complete all of this online from the comfort of home. Video meetings, digital document signing, and digital messaging are the ways people communicate in their professional and personal lives so it should translate to their real estate transactions as well. While the industry is likely never going to offer a completely Amazon Prime-like experience for buying or selling a home; there is a lot of room for digitization of this important transaction.
When the offers are accepted and the deal is ready to be done, digital document signing is rapidly becoming the norm. Not only is this more convenient for buyers and sellers, it’s more convenient for busy real estate professionals as well. With a few clicks, realtors and lawyers can send documents to all concerned parties, get secure signing completed, monitor the activity of the included users to stay up-to-date on progress, and have documents automatically filed and stored in secure online storage for future reference.
This online closing process is a win-win for everyone involved. Buyers and sellers can complete their documents on their own time without having to take time out of their busy day to visit a physical office. Real estate professionals can get deals done faster which, ultimately, means more closings done, better service to their clients, and more money in their pocket at the end of the day.
Even after the COVID-19 pandemic has run its course, many of the changes that have taken place since those initial lockdowns will remain in place long after. People are more aware of the convenience offered by technology and want all aspects of their life to be as efficient and streamlined as possible.
To learn more about how you can adapt the buying and selling process and embrace the digitization of the real estate industry, contact the experts at Virginia Business Systems today.