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Online Home Buying: A New Beginning for the Home Buying Process

July 15 2021

iguide online home buyingConsumer goods are being sold online at record paces. Ever since the launch of platforms like Amazon, eBay and Shopify, sales are booming for e-commerce businesses. You can purchase everything from clothing and household goods to big-ticket items like vehicles.

The ease and speed at which these transactions occur is one reason online buying is so popular, but what about buying real estate online? Purchasing a home is a little more complicated than reading a couple of reviews and clicking on the top-rated item.

Influencing factors

Several things have influenced the way consumers purchase a home. It's no news that online buying has skyrocketed in the past year and a half. With the pandemic driving prop-tech trends by increasing the demand for socially distanced open houses, virtual tours and drone footage, these home buying tools have now become the norm. Online property purchases are happening through platforms like "Zoom" and "Google Meet" because your buyer is comfortable using video conferencing as an everyday way to communicate.

Then there is time. Homes are selling fast, leaving many buyers scrambling to make an offer quickly before there are multiple competing offers. To save time, you are compelled to complete the purchase contract as quickly as possible to secure your buyer's offer and the fastest way to do that is to submit documents online. When the home seller wants to know "how to sell my home fast," you use everything at your disposal to facilitate the process from start to finish.

You are no stranger to employing proptech tools like virtual tours and interactive floor plans to help sell a home. Contracts and brochures are transmitted regularly through email, DocuSign, and a host of other online methods. Selling a home quickly at the best possible price is the goal for your seller and you can do it all online without any physical contact with the property or in-person meetings with the buyer. Technology has made it easier for buying real estate online—but the question is, has it made it faster?

Online home buying – faster or not?

"How can I sell my home fast?" is one of the first things every home seller asks their Realtor. The answer may seem simple. List the home at a competitive price, make sure it is clean and tidy, and advertise the home's features using virtual tours. But you know it is not quite as easy as one, two, three. Selling a home online quickly requires prop-tech tools that have led to a dramatic increase in agents using virtual tours. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the typical home seller is 56 years old, has been living in their home for about 10 years and an overwhelming majority want a real estate agent who uses virtual tours. You are a master at providing 3D tours, interactive floorplans, and digital brochures to capture the eye of potential buyers. Getting that online offer happens quickly. But there is more to the entire process than a few digital signatures.

Most homebuyers need about four months to complete all the stages of the purchase. From initial inquiries to mortgage qualification, house hunting, offer and closing, some things just can't be rushed. But buying real estate online has certainly made things easier in terms of access. You will not likely find a buyer who views a property, makes an offer, and completes the entire transaction from start to finish all in a day or two. It just can't be done. This is not Amazon. There are processes and protocols involved. Online transactions certainly make things more convenient, but not necessarily faster. You can help the buyer "save" time by looking at properties digitally and making an online purchase, but you cannot speed up time. There are a lot of steps involved in buying a home.

Additional steps in the home buying process

You are successful in living up to your seller's wishes of "how to sell my home fast" by using virtual tours, interactive floorplans and real estate marketing tools to showcase the property's layout. However, the process does not stop at the purchase contract. Your buyer will be required to follow through and obtain credit approvals, home inspections and property appraisals, and hire a lawyer to complete closing documents required for property registration. There are other necessities like real property reports/survey certificates, insurance, and discharging liens and encumbrances that may be registered against the title.

Into the future

What lies ahead of you requires adaptation and the ability to manage the changing landscape of buying real estate online. When it comes to closing time, proptech will continue to drive the way consumers buy and sell homes—because, as Dan Wilson contemplated, "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

Of course, you never know when the next shock wave will hit the world, so it's best to be prepared and use the tools available now. The only thing about buying a home online is that the return policy is not like Amazon. You can't simply send it back if you don't like it once you see it. Buyer beware caveat emptor.