While the real estate industry has always been innovative and quick to adapt to changing conditions, the COVID pandemic of 2020 gave us all a massive technological shove forward.
Enough time has passed since the beginning of the pandemic, and we can now assess the effectiveness of the processes we used to stay in business during this immensely disruptive period. And we can confidently say that the real estate industry did an amazing job!
Throughout the pandemic, we found ways to continue helping buyers find their new homes and sellers move on to their next chapters. In fact, we embraced innovative ways of making real estate transactions more efficient for buyers and sellers, and local housing markets all over the country are now stronger than they’ve ever been.
Remote real estate transactions are now widely accepted. And the real estate industry has experienced a lasting shift in the way we do business.
Let’s take a look back over the last year and a half to review the key changes and how they’re impacting our buyers and sellers.
The Big Industry Changes Since the Start of the COVID Pandemic
The real estate industry has changed in lots of ways, both big and small, over the last 18 months. But three of the biggest changes are:
Virtual showings and remote closings
Mass migration of residents to more affordable markets
The emergence of the hottest seller’s market on record
Virtual Showings and Remote Closings
Advances in PropTech (Property Technology) have made it possible to conduct virtual showings in lots of different ways. There are recorded video walk-throughs to be posted on social media, YouTube, or websites. There are live, private showings in which an agent walks through the home with the buyers on a video chat app. And there are even 3D models of homes for buyers to interact with online or virtual reality showings for buyers to access via a VR headset.
Buyers can make an offer on a home they’ve never seen in-person, and they can sign all the required paperwork digitally using services like DocuSign.
Most states have even enacted legislation to allow Remote Online Notary (RON) services so buyers can legally sign their loan docs and closing papers in front of a notary via video chat. This has made it possible for buyers to complete the entire transaction digitally from anywhere in the world.
The pandemic changed many of our general preferences and priorities around our homes. Suddenly spending so much time at home, we grew to value living space (particularly having a designated home office), outdoor space, and areas with lower population density.
At the same time, companies discovered the high productivity of working from home and agreed to increase remote work options long-term. This opened up a new world and triggered a mass migration. With people no longer tethered to their corporate offices; they are free to move anywhere.
What we’re seeing today is a mass migration of people from over-valued urban markets with high taxes to more affordable areas with lower taxes. States like Texas and Florida, which have been growing steadily over the last decade, are now seeing a jump in new residents from states like California, New York, and Illinois. The warm winters of Southern states also attract residents from Northern states who are tired of dealing with the cold, snowy winters.
The Hottest Seller’s Market on Record
PropTech has made it easier for buyers to purchase homes. And with low interest rates intended to buoy the economy during the Corona Recession, everyone wants to be a buyer!
Couple this with the low inventory of homes available, kept low due to the rising cost of lumber which is slowing new construction, and you get the perfect storm of high demand and low supply that creates a hot seller’s market.
This has driven home values up in most markets across the country. We’re seeing homes selling in record time, often with multiple offers. Many homes are even selling for more than the asking price (tens of thousands of dollars over in in-demand markets).
You can bet all this activity will attract more buyers in the short term, which should help to slow this unsustainable growth to more stable levels.
Buyers are Loving Remote Real Estate Transactions (With Just One Complaint)
On the whole, buyers have been extremely happy with their remote real estate transactions. In a recent survey, 83 percent of homebuyers who attended a live virtual showing agreed that they were able to get all of their questions answered during the tour. And 78 percent of buyers reported that they were able to see all of the property details they were interested in during their remote tour.
The one big problem? Technical glitches. 67 percent of buyers said that technical problems (like video lag and poor signal quality) were disruptive during their remote property tours. You can bet this will improve as PropTech companies invest in creating better virtual tour experiences in the future.
The Big Benefits of Virtual Showings
Virtual showings arose out of necessity to minimize contact and limit the spread of the COVID virus. But that wasn’t the only benefit. Buyers plan to continue using virtual showings long after the pandemic ends for a few other solid reasons:
Viewing more listings in less time. 84 percent of those who participated in remote showings said that they prefer them to traditional showings because they enable quick movement in a competitive housing market.
Saving the environment through lower emissions. 79 percent preferred remote showings because they are more environmentally conscious than driving around from site to site.
Finding a home in another area. 87 percent preferred remote showings because they enabled buyers to easily shop outside their local market.
Overall, 74 percent of those who toured properties remotely said that this will be their preferred method of viewing properties even after the pandemic has ended. Virtual showings are here to stay!
You Can Also Get Your Real Estate Education Online
Remote access isn’t just for property tours; it’s also for real estate classes!
Have you been considering joining the real estate industry to take advantage of today’s booming market? You can take your real estate courses online from the comfort and safety of your own home. Take advantage of all the remote benefits we’ve discussed:
Spend less time commuting.
Have a lower environmental impact from fewer vehicle trips.
Take your courses from anywhere, around your schedule.
You can enroll in an affordable online real estate course today and be ready to take your real estate exam just a few months from now! Don’t wait; strike while the market is hot.