Contributing author, Homelight.com
Many states around the nation are slowly reopening in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, but what will the aftermath look like for real estate? How will real estate agents help buyers and sellers navigate the real estate market? What will the “new normal” look like?
As uncertain as the future may be, real estate agents have had to adapt how they do business during the pandemic. However, they aren’t the only ones who are feeling the effects of change. Buyers and sellers, especially those who have bought/sold a house in the past, are experiencing a big shift in the processes regarding traditional real estate transactions.
Let’s take a look at some ways real estate is adapting in light of COVID-19.
1. Virtual home tours
Technology already plays a huge role in our lives (you might even be reading this article on your smartphone or tablet!), but it’s become an even more important tool for real estate agents at this time. Technology has allowed agents to still provide a great view of the home, keep in touch, and even process complete transactions from start to finish without ever having to jeopardize their client’s health.
Listing agents are creating virtual visits via videography and photos clients can access online, or even hosting showings using Facetime or Zoom. Some agents have even added virtual tour applications to their website in order to give their buyers an immersive experience.
2. Buying sight unseen
With the combination of COVID and continuing popularity of online real estate sites as a starting point for home searches, some buyers are purchasing a home without physically walking through it. The real estate community has adapted wonderfully to this desire for many clients to remain completely remote throughout the process by adding documents and which protect buyers and sellers in this scenario. Many believe that this will be part of the “new normal”, especially for those who plan on moving out of state and cannot physically look at homes in the new state.
3. Digitally signing documentation
The process of buying or selling a house is not a simple one. There are a lot of documents that need to be signed at various stages of the transaction, which previously required face-to-face appointments. However, much like virtual tours and virtual open houses, technology has made signing these documents contact-free. Many real estate agents have been using the applications or services which allow for digital signatures prior to the pandemic, but most believe it will now become a standard practice.
4. New approach to appraisals
Typically, home appraisals and inspections would consist of having an appraiser come out to the home to assess the property. During the peak restrictions of COVID-19, appraisers would do a “drive-by,” meaning they’d look at the house from the outside and drive around to get an overall idea of the neighborhood. Now that many states are beginning to open up, the restrictions have changed to simply restrict how many individuals can be present for various meetings at the house, inspections or otherwise.
While drive-by appraisals may not be the new normal going forward, video conferencing to share estimates very well could be, as well as restricting the amount of clients, agents, and third-party professionals can be present at the location during these assessments.
Welcome to the “new normal” post-COVID-19
COVID-19 has not only changed our everyday lives – it’s changed how all industries do business. Real estate is just one of the industries where personal interactions are crucial, however, COVID-19 has proven that it is possible to carry out many tasks of the home buying process virtually. And, to many agents’ delight, without losing the connection to clients which makes the work worth it.
Will some of these changes be the standard going forward? Perhaps. But, no matter what, the real estate industry will continue to evolve as it always does!