After the whole world was hit by COVID-19 in March, we came to realize just how important technology has become in our professional and personal day-to-day lives. Potential home buyers are delaying / canceling viewings and avoiding face-to-face communications, while many homeowners are reluctant to put their property on the market due to COVID-19 related safety measures. Real estate brokerages need to equip themselves with the right skill sets and digital tools to deal with the ever-changing challenges.
Realtors want to interact effectively with their clients, but still need to keep their physical distance and doing this virtually is the one and only solution available right now. Although some of these digital solutions were previously available in the market, they have become more popular as a result of pandemic. Let’s dig into that further and see the most common tools used by top real estate agencies and brokers.
3D virtual viewings:
Shooting with a 3D Matterport camera lets buyers see all aspects of the home virtually without having to visit the property physically. It also allows Realtors to filter out serious candidates. By creating a 3D version of the home, agencies and real estate brokers let buyers get a well-rounded sense of the property. Applying this process in real estate eliminates window shoppers with low buying intentions who just want to check a few houses out during their spare time on the weekends. Most people who request a showing after the virtual tour have high interest in the property and they are more serious about the purchase.
Even though some agencies and brokers had already switched to digital signatures prior to pandemic, the majority of Realtors in the market still preferred to work in old ways and make paper contracts. After the pandemic, digital contracts started being used by the majority of real estate agents. eZmax, a software that is specifically designed to optimize productivity and profitability for real-estate brokerages, is one of the most popular platforms currently used by Montreal-based real estate agencies and Realtors. The company has ready-to-use brokerage contract templates so brokers do not have to spend hours drafting the contract. All they need is to import the ready-to-use template and have their clients digitally sign them.
On March 23, the government of Quebec declared that notaries can now offer their services virtually due to pandemic. Virtual notarization is also called remote online notarization, webcam notarization or online authorization. In Quebec, there are technological requirements notaries must meet in order to offer their services virtually. They must use Microsoft Teams version Office 365 as well as the electronic virtual platform called ConsignO Cloud, which is developed by a Montreal-based tech firm. The requirements for virtual notary services are not only for convenience – they are also adapting to the new normal.
Interacting with clients:
COVID-19 has also impacted day-to-day interaction between Realtors and their clients. Instead of meeting clients face to face; Realtors use software like Zoom, a popular video conferencing platform allowing real estate agents and their clients to interact without having to be physically present in the same room. The client could feel like she / he is sitting right next to the broker thanks to the screen sharing option.
Virtual home staging:
Sotheby’s International Realty Québec has developed an app called Curate, which allows agents to virtually stage properties from the palm of their hand. The Realtor can easily visualize an empty space the way he chooses while touring the property. The app has a nice filtering feature, which allows the real estate agent to select the design style relevant to his client’s taste.
Using digital technology can improve broker-client relationships even if they have not met in person. It’s about the feeling brokers can develop with their client, the trust that is essential in every business relationship.