Buying a Home Entirely Online... It Can be Done!

The latest and greatest technologies within this industry have made buying a home from start to finish online, entirely possible! Although it may be hard to believe, the real estate industry has shifted and adapted to the socially distanced world we find ourselves in, largely by digitizing as much as possible. Historically, buying a home has not been an activity that one would describe as “low-touch”. But, the good news is, over the past few years, online tools have made buying a house completely online a real possibility; and with COVID-19 entering the scene, this technology has never been more relevant, or necessary!

With tools like interactive floor plans, virtual tours, and digital notarization- home buyers can make the biggest purchase of their lives without even seeing the real thing. Luckily, visualization technologies and video technology are making home buyers feel increasingly confident in purchasing their home in the digital space. In this week’s blog we are going to break down the home buying process in 2021, and how that can be entirely virtual. Let’s dive in.

GETTING PRE-APPROVED

After a buyer has determined their budget, made a list of needs and wants in their head, they can look into getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Thanks to online banking, this can be done quite easily. In many cases, most (future) home buyers will have to answer a few basic questions about their financial status. Within hours, the lender will likely approve the mortgage up to a certain amount.

Organizations like Propy are removing financing barriers by facilitating these transactions online. Due to increased privacy and protection, all sensitive data and personal information is secure in encrypted networks to ensure the home buyer feels secure in the approval process. These networks prevent having to email sensitive documentation and streamlines processes for both parties.

FINDING THE RIGHT HOME

The next stage for the virtual home buyer is finding their dream home. Unlike the traditional home buying process, shoppers are exposed to substantially more options, all at the click of a button. The online space is flooded with home builders and realtors all looking to attract buyers who begin their search digitally. However, by using technology such as website personalization, builders can stand out by providing a superior home buying experience and removing some of the stress that comes with searching for a home online.

By leveraging machine learning, builder’s websites can offer personalized search results,  home recommendations, and timely nudges, to guide each home buyer down their unique path to purchase. Technology like the OpenHouse.ai website personalization platform emphasizes a customer centric approach, and ultimately helps home buyers find the right home for them, faster.

VIRTUAL SHOWINGS

Virtual home tours have become a staple in home shopping since the beginning of the pandemic, and are a key component of virtual home buying. Video tours are now being taken to the next level with technology like Matterport's 3D Virtual Reality tours that provide home builders with an accessible way to provide immersive VR experiences. This technology enables builders and real estate agents to use Matterport’s cameras to take panoramic photos, in combination with its associated technology, to easily combine the footage for an immersive experience.

VR provides unique perspectives, that allows buyers to alter the lighting, and adjust the time of day to provide a well-rounded viewing experience that can only be offered in the digital space. Virtual tours are helping buyers become more confident in their choices by virtually immersing themselves in their future home, all with the press of a button.

PERFORMING DUE DILIGENCE

This is one of the processes that proves to be the most difficult to fully digitize. However, buyers remain quite “hands-off” as they will not be conducting much of the due diligence personally. Buyers often hire inspectors, order reports, run title searches, check tax records, etc. to ensure all their ducks are in a row. For additional confirmation, the inspector can shoot a video for the buyer in combination with the thorough report of all findings from the inspection.

However, innovative companies like Intralinks, are leveraging today’s tech to power entirely remote due diligence. Although this technology remains in the enterprise world and hasn’t made its way to residential real estate, Intralinks leverages drone site views to replace face-to-face interaction and quality VDR to keep deals moving even with staff working from home. The pandemic has ultimately accelerated the adoption of tech-enabled due diligence, and it is only a matter of time for this technology to make its way to home building.

CLOSING SALES ONLINE

The last step of virtual home buying… closing the sale! Thanks to the E-Sign Act of 2000, electronic signatures are just as valid as if you signed the documents in person. Advances in technology have made remote closings routine for sellers and very feasible for buyers. Although many documents require a notary, and traditionally this process had to be done in person, several states have legalized online notarization! While not every state allows remote online notarization (RON) yet, more and more states are approving bills to facilitate RON. This process will reduce wasted paper, time, and human error, and ultimately, allows buyers to close anytime, anywhere, and on their terms.

Also, amidst this pandemic, buyers can close on a mortgage entirely online! Companies like eOriginal that provide digital transaction solutions for mortgages have become increasingly popular in the real estate industry. As of 2018, eOriginal has launched a division that specializes in closing on a mortgage making this process entirely possible online!  

SUMMARY

There you have it... the home buying journey, completely virtual! By taking the current challenges in stride, companies across the real estate and home building industry are digitizing the home buying process. And soon, the virtual future of home sales is only going to be more streamlined, sophisticated and seamless! As a home builder, the trick is having the human element work in tandem with each of the digital tools along the way to ensure home buyers have a streamlined, and personal buying experience.

Although the COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated this shift towards digital; is virtual home buying the future of home sales? I guess we'll just have to wait and see. At OpenHouse.ai we believe it’s important to prepare for whichever way the industry shifts. We are passionate about creating a superior home buying experience in the digital space. From virtual tours to online notarization, we are excited to integrate the latest and greatest tech that will elevate the home buying experience, whether traditional or virtual, for each unique home buyer!  

- The OpenHouse.ai Team

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