Close your eyes and imagine an app that allows a user’s avatar direct access into an interactive model of a house for sale. The avatar has the ability to create a unique and differentiated experience for the home buyer. It can walk around the kitchen, the backyard, or even the neighborhood.
Now open your eyes. It’s not infeasible to believe an app like that is in the works or already being tested. Enhanced augmented reality, virtual property tours, and other technologies we once dreamed of are now here, and a new generation of buyers and sellers is expecting, in fact demanding, helpful tools that are easy to understand and use.
According to the National Association of Realtors, Gen X and Gen Y (aka millennials) currently make up 24 and 37 percent of the home-buying market respectively. Both groups are generally tech-savvy, particularly with mobile devices. In fact, the Pew Research Center reported that more than 90 percent of millennials and Gen Xers owned smartphones in 2019, compared to over two-thirds of the older baby boomer generation.
This means that a new generation of customers interacting with real estate brokers and agents is expecting all the technological bells and whistles to help them in their home buying and selling journeys, as well as during the homeownership lifecycle. While in-person meetings with agents and brokers will remain a primary means of interaction, many buyers and sellers now expect additional technology that can assist with real estate transactions and services. And, in many cases, offering such tools and technologies as part of customer services could be the difference between bringing in a new client or having them look elsewhere for an agent or broker who has embraced technology.
Millennial buyers want apps that allow them to take control of their home buying and selling experience on-demand. This includes reading, reviewing, and signing applicable paperwork; making decisions on insurance; viewing title information; and connecting with live real estate agents, using voice or video, with the option to receive notifications when there’s a new step required for them to move forward.
Many millennials seek enhanced augmented reality or virtual reality-driven tours of properties that give them a more thorough look than a handful of pictures could ever provide. For example, augmented reality apps could allow customers to see how a property looks with a new color of paint on the walls or with their furniture sitting in the living room.
Purchasing a home is one of the most complicated transactions that most people will go through, and buyers – especially ones accustomed to easy and pain-free online transactions – want technology tools that will help guide them through the entire process, including the labor-intensive, time-consuming signing of closing documents.
There are many reasons why real estate companies should be investing in the next generation of technology tools, including better time management, greater productivity, and more flexibility. But at the end of the day, real estate is still a people business, so success or failure will depend on whether agents can meet the demands of the customers.
New and veteran real estate agents alike would be wise to align themselves with a forward-looking brokerage. Here are a few questions to address: Which technology platforms and software are being used? What devices are supported? How are client relationships managed throughout the entire buying/selling lifecycle? Are there any current plans to upgrade? The future of the real estate industry, and associated careers, depends on fully embracing digital transformation that recognizes the tech demands of new generations of home buyers.