It is an age of innovation at breakneck speeds and the unimaginable becoming commonplace. Technology has a foothold in society unlike ever before. Back in 1969, the Apollo 11 mission established the foundation for modern computing. Smartphones, now commonly wielded by pre-teens, are millions of times more powerful than the very computers that landed man on the moon. There is now so much capability in the palms of human hands.
Many are taking that technology and using it to facilitate big purchases. House hunting of the olden days meant tedious work – procuring newspapers from a desired location and pouring over them. It meant eyeing grainy photos and brief descriptions to try to figure out if the house was right. Now, house-hunting includes methods never before possible or likely even imagined.
“A few years ago, those in the real estate industry were a bit hesitant to fully accept technological advancement,” said Regan McGee, chairman and chief executive officer of Nobul, a platform created to facilitate the ease of real estate transactions. “There are a number of reasons as to why, but now we are seeing a catalyst in the industry prompted by the pandemic. Agents, buyers, and sellers are all recognizing that technology can prove a tremendous asset,” McGee added.
For example, real estate photography is its own unique art form, which at one time was viewed as cutting edge, but is now rather commonplace. After all, high-definition photos can allow buyers to clearly see the living space – a vital tool as realtors vie for the sale.
There are now real estate photography courses and certifications as photographers move into the niche market of photographing both staged and empty homes – finding the correct light and angles to properly represent – and sell – properties. Even the advancements of stunning photographs are being joined by drones. Graduates of drone school are now pushing the market of drone photography, particularly for real estate sales.
Virtual tours of homes allow for prospective homebuyers to place their cursors upon highlighted arrows and do complete walkthroughs of homes, without even stepping foot in them.
The sales tactic of baking cookies to make a home smell pleasant and inviting is now being replaced by high-end graphics online. The welcome mat is taking on less importance as buyers seek to welcome technology in the hunt.
Staging has been met with digital mockups as potential homebuyers can reimagine – and envision – complete transformations, including 3D room designs and virtual kitchen planners. Spatial intelligence or the ability to imagine rooms or concepts, a skill often found in interior designers and architects, is now a click away for people who want to reimage a living space.
The real estate market is now met with a level of creativity only made possible by technology. It is a new era and recent studies back up that buyers, sellers, and agents are embracing the times and using available tech.
The Real Estate in a Digital Age report compiled by REALTORS® in 2019 provides the data to support that belief.
A sign of the times: “In 1981, 22 percent of home buyers read newspaper ads to find a home and eight percent used friends as an information source. In 2018, 44 percent looked for properties online first.”
Potential buyers can now search for homes by neighborhood and location and the online aspect allows them to more efficiently and accurately compare and contrast homes that catch their interest, according to the study.
“The ability for buyers to narrow their search and to do virtual tours should prove a positive step for the entire industry – the ability to experience a home in such a way will allow them to narrow their search and should prove a timesaver for what can be a tedious process,” said McGee.
Technology is not replacing agents, as was the concern some years ago. In fact, according to the 2019 study, 87% of homebuyers are working closely with a real estate agent.
So the process begins online but is then often taken to an expert – an agent. Agent reviews, therefore, are taking on more importance and word-of-mouth recommendations remain a vital source of clients for agents.
The primary difference as discussed in the findings “is that home buyers are entering the process more educated about the market before they speak to a home seller or an agent.”
Regan McGee noted that this sort of progress is crucial to the industry.
“The entire goal of Nobul’s platform is to empower consumers in the real estate market. The more educated people are about their options and what they want, the happier they will be,” he said. “I see technology as continuing to facilitate home sales and purchases in positive ways.”
Written by Lara Harper