Top Technology Trends in Real Estate

Real estate has had a booming few years, to say the least, with homes selling for record prices and bidding wars becoming more common. The market has thrived throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, despite the challenges of lockdowns, social distancing and limited personal interactions, thanks in large part to technology. From virtual property tours to digital fences, technology has transformed the real estate journey from a manual, in-person process to one that can be done primarily digitally.

This trend isn’t just for tech-savvy millennials and young first time buyers: The National Association of Realtors (NAR) reports that 97% of buyers, regardless of age, use the internet in their home search.

“Every sector and category of real estate has been impacted by the pandemic, and nearly all have seen an influx of new innovations to make the buying and selling process more efficient,” says Ashley Stinton, senior director of marketing and communications at NAR.

More than just a stopgap measure, the technology that kept real estate moving during the early days of the pandemic continues to be relevant. Here are seven of the most useful technology trends that are making it easier to buy and sell a home.

  1. Office assessments
  2. Online 3D tours
  3. iBuyers
  4. Remote online notarization
  5. Online document preparation and electronic signature
  6. Home inspection aids
  7. Digital escrow and closings

1. Office Ratings

While it might be hard to imagine a home appraisal being done without physically visiting the property, office appraisals do just that.

“Not only are we seeing them remain in use since the pandemic, but they will soon become even more popular, as Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac have announced that they will permanently accept them nationwide for qualifying properties,” says Katie Severance, agent. real estate at Douglas. Elliman in Palm Beach, Florida.

Data that can be used to develop these appraisals includes information from buying or selling agents, the owner, builder, and past appraiser records. According to Fannie Mae, secondary sources such as public records and MLS data may also be used at the appraiser’s discretion.

Although convenient, desktop assessments may not be the best choice in all cases. For example, if a house has recently been renovated, an office appraisal may not be able to provide an accurate valuation. Additionally, lenders and borrowers still have the option of ordering a traditional appraisal if they wish, according to Fannie Mae.

2. Online 3D tours

The integration of virtual tours into online real estate listings has dramatically changed the home buying process. Now, with the push of a button, buyers can explore a home without visiting it in person.

Online 3D tours allow viewers to “walk through a property as if they were there in person, walking through each room at their own pace,” says Jason Gelios, a Community Choice Realty agent in the Southeast. from Michigan.

One of the best-known tools is Matterport, which creates 3D virtual tours that can be shared on social media and real estate listing sites, says Gelios. “Many home builders use this platform to create 3D tours of their newly built model homes,” he says. “Matterport can be used with images from an iPhone or professional camera.”

Other popular 3D virtual tour software include 3DVista, CloudPano, and My360.

3.iBuyers

Instant buyers, or iBuyers, are one of the newest developments in real estate technology. iBuyers use AI to make an instant offer on a home. Typically, the offer is based on an analysis of similar properties in your local market.

Using an iBuyer allows home sellers to skip many time-consuming steps in the selling process, including finding an agent, staging, showing, and negotiating with potential buyers. “We’re seeing growing interest in iBuyers, with many sellers realizing that it’s an option that comes with no setbacks or additional fees,” says Gelios.

Often, iBuyer customers receive a cash offer for their home in just 24 hours. However, in exchange for this speed, they may earn less on the sale than they would by selling the house traditionally. This is especially true in the type of sellers’ market the country is currently experiencing. “When you have more buyers than there are homes for sale, homeowners looking to sell have better options to get the most money for their home,” says Gelios.

Well-known iBuyer platforms include Opendoor and RefinNow. Zillow closed its iBuyer program, Zillow Offers, in 2021.

4. Remote online notarization

Remote Online Notarization (RON), long supported by NAR, is finally becoming a legal reality. This is exactly what it sounds like: notarized documents in an electronic format, without an in-person visit to a notary. The process, including the popular Notarize platform, involves the signer providing their signature electronically and even appearing live before an online notary any time of the day or night.

At the height of the pandemic, this approach was crucial to maintaining social distancing. Since then, many states have enacted RON laws that allow the technology permanently.

“These are getting popular, but they’re not the norm yet,” says Severance. “I suspect they’ll start to explode in the next one to three years, as younger buyers who are more tech-savvy are more likely to be comfortable with them.”

5. Online document preparation and electronic signature

The days when all real estate documents were printed and distributed on paper are fast becoming a thing of the past. These days it is much more common for documents to be prepared online and distributed through a secure online document portal. And when it comes time to sign the documents, this step is also completed online.

Electronic signature and authorization technology makes it easier for everyone involved in a transaction to access the necessary documents, including buyers, sellers, lenders and title agents. These tools are among the most popular real estate technology developments, says Chantay Clark Bridges, senior real estate expert at EXP Realty in Los Angeles.

“In today’s environment, everyone, including our less tech-savvy customers, has had to adapt,” says Bridges. “We sign just about everything electronically in one form or another. This makes the process faster and smoother, and it provides access anytime. »

6. Home inspection aids

High-tech developments have also arrived for the home inspection process. There are now online platforms that can put ballpark dollar amounts on the issues listed in these sometimes confusing reports, so the buyer knows how much it will cost to fix them.

Repair Pricer, for example, uses AI to turn a home inspection report into a detailed repair estimate – in 24 hours or less. This pricing information can be helpful to homebuyers and their real estate agents during purchase negotiations.

7. Digital Escrow and Closures

In this new era of high-tech real estate transactions, even the final stages of the process – escrow and closings – can be done remotely.

Emerging platforms like Earnnest facilitate secure digital payments and enable the digital transfer of funds in real estate transactions, Stinton says.

Additionally, virtual locks, or electronic locks, are becoming more common. Completely remote shutdowns, which use video conferencing tools like Zoom or Skype, are not yet available everywhere. But they are gradually being legalized across the country.

“Title companies are seeing phenomenal growth in efforts to perform digital closings, where home buyers and sellers can electronically sign remotely,” Gelios says. “This will be an area of ​​continued growth.”

At the end of the line

While many real estate technologies existed before the pandemic, its challenges have made these digital approaches more popular and widespread. Almost every stage of the home buying and selling process has begun to incorporate high-tech tools.

“The pandemic has increased the adoption of these tools at a rapid rate,” says Stinton. “We’ve seen a willingness to continue leveraging them to scale the transaction and make the process more efficient, for agents and consumers alike.”

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