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How Virtual Tools Enhance the Home Buying Process

How Virtual Tools Enhance the Home Buying Process

One of the big changes the pandemic has had on the real estate industry is the evolution of how technology has elevated the home buying and selling experience to a new standard. Virtual tools are not just new, but the norm.

While many industries went into a slump during the COVID-19 lockdown, the residential real estate market was designated an essential service in Colorado and prospective home buyers took advantage of being cooped up to find the home of their dreams. By using a variety of online tech tools, many people successfully purchased and sold homes virtually; some without setting foot on the property.

Jason Tanabe, a Usaj Realty broker, took advantage of the suite of videos, photography, live stream, and e-signing devices to get people under contract and into their dream home. He recently shared his experiences in this new world of real estate transactions and what it means for the future when it comes to buying and selling a home.

It’s been a year since the pandemic hit Colorado. Are people still using virtual tools when it comes to buying and selling real estate?

Everyday. Even if we remove this past year with the pandemic from the current analogy, and even more so in some cases, our current market conditions have forced all of us to be more creative. We need to use every piece of available technology available in an effort to allow everyone the ability to make a swift and informed decision.

What apps and other instruments have you found to be the most beneficial?

When it comes to viewing homes virtually, naturally Facetime (with Apple users) or Zoom has been an essential tool as it allows everyone to view and see live images as we are walking through the home. As with buying a home, everyone has their own comfort and preference, so being experienced and knowledgeable enough to adapt and switch between each available tool is crucial.

Marco Polo and Youtube have also surfaced to the top very quickly. The demands of daily life and the short window of viewing opportunities when you have to “schedule a showing” can have a huge impact on home buyers and their ability to make a quick and confident offer.

How have these apps helped your clients?

When clients can’t live stream during our virtual tour, Marco Polo and YouTube have been instrumental as it allows you to video the property and then provide a secured private link to prospective buyers. They can view the recorded session when time allows. If you have a clear understanding of your clients’ needs, wants, desires, and items that concern them, you can highlight those during your tour and provide feedback to help in their decision-making.

Describe a situation when you leaned heavily on technology and what was the outcome. 

As many realtors have discovered, out-of-state clients don’t have the great fortune of seeing the home in person but are still committed to making a purchase. Over the past several months Zoom, YouTube, and our Usaj Realty home buying guide have allowed many clients the ability to successfully close on their next or first beautiful home – many times without seeing it in person.

When are virtual tours of a home most beneficial? What reservations might people have about using this technology?

Our current market has required a great deal of creativity. Virtual tours are clearly most beneficial when you are living out of state and don’t have the ability to see the property in person. But, in today’s aggressive yet very attainable housing conditions, time sometimes just isn’t on our side and a virtual tour is and can be, a great substitute.

As with all things, comfort and trust have their rightful place and must be respected when making what may be the largest purchase of your life. Using technology and any adjustment to the “norm” naturally creates hesitation. However, working with the right broker that truly understands your needs and desires should quell whatever reservations you may have. By allowing the respect and time each one deserves is key to providing the comfort needed, especially when you are virtually viewing your next prospective home.

What are some of the disadvantages to this type of technology and what are the limitations?

The disadvantages of technology will many times be with the user. Not understanding technology and how to allow it to function properly and work the way it was intended can create problems. Conversely, it’s important to have a well-documented video that accurately depicts the house and flows with the floorplan.

The limitations of using technology? Doing a proper virtual walkthrough is a great substitute when you can’t be there.  But, there is no substitute for seeing a house in person. Being on-site, walking around, getting a feel for the home’s floor plan and outdoor space, and the curb appeal is hard to truly duplicate through videos and pictures.

Who benefits most from this technology?

Obviously, anyone who can’t view any property in-person will benefit most. But, a better question is, ‘What benefits are you getting from not using any technology?’ Even when we have clients who are seeing a home in person, they are still taking pictures and videoing portions to reflect upon before making a decision.

Do you think virtual tours, augmented photography, and e-signings are here to stay?

Without question. As with all “new” things that are introduced, we gain comfort with the technology and tools that are available and make adjustments on what works best and what doesn’t.
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