Is it possible for real estate to thrive in a virtual market? This is one industry that many would think could not transition to buying from home, like most other things – as we’ve found out due to recent challenges because of pandemic isolation.
But times are changing and evolving, and so is the home buying and selling process. With the current situation surrounding COVID-19, home buyers have had to adjust how they approach their search.
If pandemic isolation has taught us anything, it is how to meet our wants and needs without ever leaving home. Buying a home may be the final frontier of shop-at-home culture.
The real estate industry is making it easier than ever to tour properties online, and even though most consumers will never buy a house sight unseen, the COVID-19 pandemic is changing house hunting as we know it, for the long term.
People have been buying condos and houses online from around the globe for years. Now the remote purchase process is relevant whether the sale is down the street or on the other side of the world, and real estate agents have adapted.
In the absence of open houses and in-person tours, realtors have used technology to help clients through a difficult time. Those looking to buy or sell during the height of social isolation were doing so out of need – not simply because they had nothing else to do. But livestreamed home and condo tours and 3D mockups of home photos won’t replace in-person walk-throughs when it comes to the biggest purchase you’ll ever make.
Once we get back to face to face interaction, the housing market will likely revert back to more traditional ways of buying a house or condo. But some of the advances we’ve made over the past few months will likely stick around.
New Technology in Real Estate Buying and Selling
BrokerBay, an operational system that many realtors use, last month launched an interactive 3D virtual-showing system that puts agents and buyers in the same room, overlaying the tour with video conferencing.
It allows for the same kind of interactivity as a family web chat, so buyer and realtor can tour a home together, stepping through the virtual rooms and zooming in on features of interest.
The controls can be passed back and forth between client and agent and appointments can include tours of several homes.
Home buyers can see the home’s features, take measurements of the windows and walls, study the make of the appliances and ask questions in real time.
If a couple happens to be in two different cities, they can still tour the home together. If they want to take the agent from the basement back to the kitchen, the realtor can hand over the controls.
The whole thing is tied directly to the industry’s Multiple Listing Service. It’s a system that is especially pertinent in the age of COVID-19, but it will remain relevant as we navigate through the new way of home shopping.
Virtual Home Buying
Gone are the days of buyers going out to look at 30+ homes as they narrow down what they like and don’t like. With real estate moving somewhat into a virtual shopping experience, even just at the beginning stages of looking, buyers have more comfort and safety as they browse.
Still, there are elements a virtual tour can’t provide.
You can’t see the fine details of the craftsmanship in a 3D tour. You can’t feel what the house or condo is like, because yes, that feeling is very real to buyers. Some things you just want to touch and see with your own eyes – the quality of the paint, the finish of the stone on the island – the hardwood floors under your feet (are they squeaking?).
You also don’t always get the feel for the neighbourhood if it’s a new part of the city you’re looking in. You don’t get the feeling of how big the backyard is or how expansive the rooftop terrace is.
There’s also the reality that most people can’t translate the dimensions of a room to their experience of that space.
Can You Really Buy Real Estate Virtually?
New-construction developers have been selling houses and condos off plans for years. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any challenges. Many condo buyers who purchase pre-construction are able to conceptualize what the space is going to look like.
Some purchase for investment purposes, so making decisions on layout and finishes aren’t necessarily what they’d select to live in. Some would say purchasing a condo virtually would be easier than a house, but we think it really is up to our clients, and their comfort level.
Virtual Real Estate and the Future of Buying
Technology will definitely help buyers as they start the house hunting process. The biggest advantage will be assisting buyers in narrowing down the properties theyw ant to visit. But we find it hard to believe that buyers will be making $2 Million purchases without visiting a property.
Agents who say they’ll have the best virtual tours and offer buyers the opportunity to buy sight unseen are missing the point of our industry. It’s about relationships and how we can help our clients – not make things harder on them by saying virtual is the only option, because it isn’t, and should never be.
If you’d like to learn more about how you can safely look for a new home in this hot market, connect with us today by simply filling out the form below. We’ll be in touch to set up a meeting of your preference – virtually or safely, in person.