Key Highlights

  • Digital products in real estate not new but COVID restrictions have given them a foothold
  • Summary of tech solutions that may be here to stay

Coronavirus restrictions and lockdowns have spurred the embrace of digital product acceptance in the world of real estate. Though such technical solutions within the real estate sector have been available a while now, the COVID pandemic has not only made these digital products more essential to real estate transactions but more preferred.

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Here are just some of the digital adaptations that real estate professionals believe will continue to be useful well into the future even when/if we only see the pandemic in our rear view mirrors.

  1. Digital closings
    1. Platforms such as DocuSign enable buyers and sellers to use e-signatures in the final stages of digital closings
    2. DocuSign also enables agents/brokers o organize listings information in one spot
  2. Virtual Tours
    1. COVID pandemic has made video and 3-D tours nearly ubiquitous world-wide
    2. Zillow reported an increase of +152% in listings with 3-D tours compared to last year at this time
    3. During Q2 and Q3, number of sales listings with 3-D tours increased +110%, according to StreetEasy
  3. Mortgages
    1. Digitization has definitely sped up mortgage process
    2. BUT, with pandemic and unemployment surging, lenders now must spend more time in verifying prospective borrower’s employment status and history
    3. Products such as Account Clerk, Encompass, Better and Morty help facilitate mortgage interactions
  4. Appraisals
    1. Considered “eyes and ears of mortgage lenders,” according to Jonathan Miller of appraisal firm Miller Samuel, states issued mandated lockdowns that prohibited in-person appraisals.
    2. Appraisers now doing hybrid trios of in-person interior inspections, “drive-by” external inspections and evaluations of home interior photographs
    3. Miller believes, “Until there’s a vaccine, we’re going to do all three.”
  5. Notaries
    1. 30 states already have enacted permanent remote online notarization (RON) legislation
  6. Smart Contracts
    1. Updated contract management systems such as DocuWalk, DotLoop and DocuSign have eliminated paperwork, multiple applications as well as in-person documents and messenger services
    2. Digital products enable users to live remote collaboration including shared editing, tracked changes and both e-signatures and blockchain signatures.

With all this digitization, is there anything left for agents/brokers to do? According to Pamela Liebman, president and chief executive of Corcoran, relationships still matter. “When it comes to important emotional transactions like purchasing a home, there’s always going to remain that in-person touch.


Thanks to The New York Times.

Also read: Podcast: Your How-To Be A Listing Agent Blueprint Has Arrived (Listen Now) | Tim and Julie Harris, Exodus of Wealthy New Yorkers to Suburbs and Beyond, A “Homeless Pandemic” Looms

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