Technology has transformed nearly all aspects of our lives, including how we navigate home buying. A lengthy process that once required mounds of paperwork and several in-person meetings can now be accomplished in a fraction of the time thanks to advancements in tech.
As real estate technology continues to shape the industry, it’s important for buyers to understand how they can leverage new tools to simplify and enhance their experience. If you’re in the market for a new home, here are six ways you can expect technology to aid you throughout the process:
1. Finding an Agent
In the past, the most common way to find an agent was through referrals from family and friends. While some people may still depend on word of mouth to find a reliable realtor, technology has made it even easier for you to research candidates’ qualifications and cross check references.
Start by evaluating potential agent’s online presence including social media accounts and websites. Then, refer to reviews and check the Better Business Bureau’s website for any potential red flags. The ability to vet candidates through first-hand online feedback will enable you to make more informed decisions regarding who you work with.
2. Browsing Listings
Similar to finding an agent, house hunters would usually rely on word of mouth and yard signs when browsing for properties. Today, however, over 90% of buyers use the internet to search for homes, often before an agent is even contacted.
Using a multiple listing service (MLS), you can easily compare homes without stepping foot onto the physical property. You can also sign up for real-time alerts, so you’re always aware when new listings hit the market. Listings provide information on properties and their respective neighborhoods, taxes, and school districts. In addition, they may include data on crime rates, value estimates, and comparable house prices so you can make the smartest decision on where you’d like to move.
3. Viewing Properties
The advent of virtual reality, UAVs (unmanned aerial vehicles), and 3D imaging has provided a more immersive experience for potential buyers. In addition to video walkthroughs, these enhanced viewing options provide a more realistic sense of properties and their floor plans.
Though virtual showings have been around for a while, more realtors are scheduling online tours to showcase properties in compliance with social distancing regulations in the face of COVID-19. This technology has helped push the buying process forward, enticed buyers to schedule in-person showings if permitted and allowed buyers to explore properties safely from the comfort of their homes.
4. Applying for Home Financing
It can take time to obtain mortgage approval from brick-and-mortar banks, mainly due to the fact that you have to schedule appointments and they often require you to provide physical copies of your financial documents. However, you can streamline the buying process by applying for a mortgage through an online lender. Digital lenders offer automated underwriting, the option to upload your documents securely, and around-the-clock support if you run into any issues.
Technology has also played a critical role in assisting first-time home buyers. Those looking to buy their first home can find information online and even apply for first-time home buyer programs, grants, and affordable financing options like government-backed FHA loans online. These accessible resources make it possible for anyone to navigate the home buying process, even from home.
5. Negotiating and Submitting an Offer
Writing a thoughtful offer letter is one way you can set yourself apart from other home buyers. It’s an essential part of the home buying journey that, like most steps in the process, can be accomplished through technological means.
For instance, you can conduct negotiations through email or text messages. Rather than relying on traditional communication methods like letters, you can submit an offer and negotiate home price digitally to save time. Most of these steps are completed by your agent, which is why you should work with a realtor who has extensive experience with remote transactions.
6. Closing on a House
Traditionally, closing on a home required several in-person meetings and weeks of collecting signatures. However, it’s now possible to complete much of the closing process electronically, saving you time. You can sign documents and close on a home via video conferences in conjunction with electronic signature apps like DocuSign.
As different states have different requirements for real estate transactions, you’ll need to consult with your agent to determine which aspects of the closing process you can complete remotely. However, even if an in-person meeting is necessary, you may still be able to save time on closing day by signing some of the documents ahead of time.
Technology will undoubtedly continue to transform the real estate market. Whether you’re considering buying a home now or in the future, be sure to keep up on the latest technological tools and trends to help you navigate the process.