Monday, October 17, 2022 / by Sydney Stahr
In the current age of our world, digital communication is at its peak in technological advances. Employees can work from home using online chat rooms, team setups, and video conferencing. Students can attend classes virtually using online live classrooms and discussion boards to complete required class time and assignments. Even in Real Estate, online communication has become a much-needed key to success. Agents can walk through homes virtually with their clients using their smartphones, and some even go so far as to upload home tour walkthrough videos to their listings for future buyers to see for themselves.
So how far is our digital literacy going to take us? What about agents that did not grow up with the more recent technologies? Will they adapt as things change, or will they hold onto the “old ways” of conducting their business? I can tell you from experience that while most agents are embracing the recent advances in technology, there are several that have a difficult time adjusting to their new realities. However, there are still some aspects and requirements in the real estate industry that we should not leave to the digital world.
Some things that are considered common practice now include E-signing paperwork and digital listings of homes. Clients, whether they be buyers or sellers, can now sign and fill in any disclosures or agreements through secure document portals. These agreements and disclosures can then be used to automatically upload information to a digital listing portal where agents and their buyer clients can set up home searches based on specific criteria (Zillow, Redfin, NWMLS, etc.) and then schedule times to go view them. Even the home showing request portal is digitalized with its own device application, ShowingTime. There is no harm for either side of a transaction, or other professionals in the industry, to conduct this side of business through online communications.
Also, some buyer clients may be moving across state lines or from long distances. Clients can now have consultation appointments with agents in the areas they are looking from afar using video conferencing technology (ex. Zoom). This helps them feel more confident in the agent they are using and their abilities to find them what they are looking for in a home. Agents can even conduct showings from a distance using video chats and video calls on their phones. Despite these advances, there are still some aspects of the process that should not be left to digital avenues.
For example, home inspections should ALWAYS be conducted in person, and it is always recommended that buyers attend these inspections. The inspector will have much more to discuss with potential buyers about what they find in person that may or may not be specified in their reports. Or they’ll be required to report something that isn’t a huge deal (like water heater temperature set too high) but want to make sure that gets conveyed to the client appropriately. There are some situations where this is not possible, like when a client is buying a home “at a distance” and cannot get to the inspection. Video chats allow us to make up for that, but then the client still hasn’t seen the home for themselves. F2F communication is incredibly important during this phase of the real estate process and should not be overlooked.
Another example is a listing appointment with potential sellers. As agents, we prefer to conduct our listing presentation in the home the seller is hoping to list. This gives us an idea of what to expect as far as the home’s condition and solidifies our research on pricing. It also allows us to meet our client F2F and give them a better understanding of who we are and what we strive for in every listing. These appointments can be done through video conferencing or phone discussions, but we desire to put our eyes on the home in-person and get an overall feel for the property. If it doesn’t feel good, then it probably won’t display well for potential buyers. We can also give better advice on preparing the home for listing when we’ve seen it in-person and provide recommendations for vendors as needed.
Digital communications are progressing at high rates and will continue to shape how the real estate industry conducts their business. While many aspects of the industry can be digitized and certain communications can be handled online, there are always going to be aspects of the business that require F2F communications. We’ve only covered a few here, but we think you get the point.
Buying a home without looking at it in-person is a terrifying process and can make anybody nervous. We are here to help all our clients navigate the current market and industry trends.