Thanks to COVID-19, all our lives were transformed last year in ways we’d never thought possible. Within only a couple of weeks, most people were forced to work from home as social distancing requirements changed how we interact with the world around us. And these behavioral and lifestyle adjustments created unprecedented issues for almost all businesses worldwide.
While the long-term consequences of this pandemic are going to be difficult to predict, it does seem quite likely that it will reshape the future of the entire real estate industry.
In order to be prepared for whatever comes next, here’s what real estate agents and property managers have been doing to navigate the immediate crisis.
4 Ways Pandemic is Forcing Real Estate Market To Adapt
1. Digital Normal
The combination of lockdowns and social distancing caused by the pandemic saw a radical shift in the working habits of many employees as businesses required them to do their jobs remotely.
The prospect of working from home initially seemed inaccessible for the real estate industry as most agents were required to meet clients at properties in order to conduct open houses.
While the industry had already been moving toward creating digitally-enabled processes and services, COVID-19 magnified its importance practically overnight. Real estate agents found ways to manage many property transactions from home using relevant software for everything, such as concierge services, property management, contactless access, and virtual communities for buyers, sellers, and tenants.
As these digital offerings become the new normal over the coming years, they will also provide new streams of revenue combined with superior client loyalty because they will ultimately better meet the needs of clients.
2. Virtual Reality
When realtors found they could no longer conduct open houses, they immediately started looking for creative new ways they could safely show properties to clients.
Some agents started creating detailed video tours they could either send to specific clients or post on real estate websites and social media.
Others preferred video calling their clients onsite using FaceTime or other software as it allowed them to answer any questions in real-time while walking through. Ultimately, this ended up boosting the already increasing shift in the real estate industry towards property tours using virtual and augmented realities.
Using innovative technology like virtual reality to showcase properties and hold open houses has so far been very useful for the industry. And as VR and AR inspections continue to evolve, they also have the potential to create a true win-win situation for all participants in the future.
3. Online Auctions
When auctions had to be discontinued, real estate agents everywhere quickly adapted to other ways of selling and advertising property like private treaties and digital auctions.
Moving to digital auctions seemed like an obvious choice as consumers have been able to purchase almost everything else online, so why not property sales?
While losing the theatre of on-site auctions is a shame, they may eventually become the new normal because there’s really no other reason why they have to be held on-site at the property.
Rather than spending their weekends racing between properties, auctioneers could run them from their offices or even from home if they wanted. Most prospective bidders will have already visited the property and done their research beforehand.
And not everyone else can always attend auctions in person anyway, which is why they hire people to bid on their behalf. Ultimately, moving digital auctions online may even be a better solution for everyone involved.
4. Contactless Everything
Real estate agents very quickly adapted to whatever technology they could find that helped ensure all their processes were both contactless and as safe as possible.
Inspections were being carried out on-site by advising owners or tenants to remain in one area of their property, while agents or inspectors wearing masks and gloves complete their paperwork. Some even allowed the submission of photos or videos by tenants and homeowners instead of coming on-site at all.
Document signing has also been moved online using the software as it means less in-person contact. Client identities are still able to be verified on video with a notary before any documents are signed electronically.
These types of solutions are opening the door for a seamless experience with clients and empowering real estate sales agents when working remotely.
The Future of The Real Estate Industry
Many of these applications have been available for years but were overlooked by the real estate industry out of habit or lack of innovation.
Yet with all of these new tools in place, real estate agents and property managers everywhere have proven that working remotely is more than possible with or without the pandemic. So now that COVID-19 has altered everything in the short term, which of these changes will remain as the new normal once the pandemic subsides?
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