At times in the world of business, when a major event takes place, such as this COVID-19 crisis, market practices change. Some events can even be a catalyst for lasting change. Let’s face it, conditions in 2020 have certainly altered the real estate landscape. However, one of the great attributes of the real estate industry is its resilience. It will adapt to market conditions. Rapidly.
The home selling business has always been a necessity, unlike some other industries such as entertainment. People need to move. Some have to buy homes to relocate to a new job. Senior citizens who have left their jobs need to downsize, sell their homes and move to a retirement community or state. That’s the good news for real estate professionals.
As we are seeing, even a major situation like COVID-19 cannot stop the real estate business. Many Realtors across America are reporting that now that local economies are opening up, business is brisk. For one, there is the pent-up demand from the lockdown. Secondly, this is the busy spring selling season. Third, mortgage rates are still at super historic lows.
There are mixed signals in the environment as well. Several realtor associations are reporting a drop in home sales. But many others are citing a major reason for this is because inventory is still low, which frankly, was an issue earlier. Thousands of Millennials, ready to purchase homes, can’t find properties in their price range for sale. They are ready and eager to purchase a home, if homeowners would just list them. The demand is there.
Obviously, the real estate marketplace is going to be different until the COVID-19 crisis ends. But as markets open up and more people get back to work, home sales should also see a return back to earlier days. It won’t exactly be normal. Many experts are referring to the current situation as a “new normal.”
Virtual Home Tours Help Narrow Down Selection
What will this new normal be like? Well for one, much of it will be “virtual.”
An even larger part of the home search process will be conducted online. Because it may be difficult for buyers to visit multiple properties and attend open houses, the search process will need to be narrowed down ahead of time. That’s where virtual tour cameras and property data APIs will play a large part.
Virtual Home Tours
As many agents know, this technology is starting to boom. Now that people are reluctant to allow visitors to their properties and buyers are not really sure they want to visit properties, the use of virtual tours is increasing. In fact, many realtors are now reporting that some homes are selling without a buyer ever visiting the property. In some cases, the agent has never seen the property in person. There’s more of this technology, what experts refer to as “prop tech,” on the way.
The next big thing could be “Virtual reality home selling.” In this case, a buyer would put on a VR headset and virtually be able to walk through a home, looking in any direction. For all intents and purposes, they would be as close to actually visiting that home as possible.
Another proptech innovation that is gaining in popularity is augmented reality. With this technology, an agent might have a new home or an empty property for sale, and they could insert furniture and other items to give the buyer an idea of what it would look like fully furnished.
As we all know – staging works. About 90% of buyers’ agents report it certainly does help a buyer visualize what that space would like fully furnished. Forty percent of buyer’s agents say staging has an impact on a shopper’s decision. That’s huge.
Drones are another innovation that can help buyers see what a property is like, from even a better angle than just walking around on the ground.
Note: Sellers know this technology is out there too. In fact, we are hearing reports that many homeowners do not want agents to bring potential buyers to their properties unless they are very serious and have narrowed down their choices. That means they have researched other properties online and even embarked on virtual tours to be sure this is one of their top picks on the list.
Property Data APIs Help with Decision Making
Since an agent will be conducting most of their showings in the webisphere, this is also a great opportunity for them to provide property data to help buyers narrow down their choice of homes. With a property data API supplied by providers such as Home Junction, an agent has the chance to show, rather than tell, the relevant data involved with any particular property.
For example, they can show charts indicating recent home sales in that particular neighborhood. Or, they can show charts with pricing trends for that area, revealing perhaps that home prices recently took a dip and NOW is the time to make an offer.
Other data that can be offered that will be a major influence on buyers will be school information, school attendance zones, municipal and neighborhood boundaries, neighborhood demographics, crime ratings, cost of living indices, and other information.
Incorporating a feed by a property data provider today is super simple. All an agent has to do is insert a few lines of API code (Application Programming Interface) to their web pages for any property, and the data aggregator does the rest. The property data provider gathers ALL the information, organizes it and sends it out through the API on a consistent basis.
Just think of the opportunity. Here an agent has a buyer’s attention online, and they can show them facts that will help persuade them that one particular property is right for them. This property not only has emotional appeal to them, but meets all the checkboxes for their criteria. That criteria might include schools nearby, low tax rates, certain age groups in the neighborhood, local amenities such as fitness studios and coffee shops, etc.
When walking with an agent, just mentioning there are great schools nearby does not have the same impact as showing the actual School Data and a map indicating just how close the schools are to that particular property.
There Could be an Upside to All this Change
With virtual tours, future VR tours and in-depth property data – the home buying process might actually speed up. The buyers save time. (And if they have to travel, they will save money). The agent saves time and can therefore do more of the other tasks they need to do. And the customers get a chance to shorten the home buying (or selling) process which as we all know, can be emotional and gut-wrenching for a family making such a BIG decision.
Get on board. Start working on those virtual tours and add a property data API as this shift in real estate best practices takes place and those who adapt will be ahead of the pack.