When I bought my first home in the 1980s, I went to weekend after weekend of open houses, relied on my Realtor® to call me when something new came on the market, and hand-signed a contract typed in triplicate on an IBM Selectric. That wasn’t exactly the Dark Ages, but it certainly seems inconceivable today. (Did I mention the highly advanced faxed counter-offers on shiny roll paper?)
In mid-2018, my nephew and his wife closed on a home in Tacoma while they were on vacation. In France.
The process of buying a home will continue to change with the influence of tech and the expectations of Millennials. Consider some of the ways home buying has already adjusted to match our tech-centric world.
The Internet. We could stop right here. Maybe add a mention of smart phones. End of blog. The Internet has transformed our lives in countless ways, including how we buy homes and take out home loans. You can search for homes on several sites, like realtor.com, Zillow, or Trulia. Websites are a given for both national and local real estate firms. You can save your searches and set parameters for email notifications of new listings and open houses. Looking for a home loan? You can research types of home loans and qualification requirements, compare lenders, read reviews of mortgage loan originators, and apply for and complete your home loan entirely online.
Mobile Mortgage App. A mortgage loan? From your phone? Why not. Millennials grew up with smartphones. They live their lives electronically. Being able to apply for a loan, check its progress, and stay in touch with their mortgage loan originators on their phones is simply life as usual. At First Choice Loan Services Inc., our Mortgage Advisor mobile app is an integral part of the home loan process.
Virtual Tours. Why take time for an open house when you can tour properties online? Virtual tours were made possible and popular by the Internet. They started as a few pictures with a listing, and now they are as sophisticated as 360° walk-throughs on single property websites. Video has become standard. Some Realtors® are even hosting real-time open houses online. Drones have joined the scene, too. These buzzing mini aircraft have revolutionized the way Realtors® can present properties. Where once it would have been unthinkable to have aerial views of any but the most expensive properties you can now find high quality aerial videos showcasing a wider range of homes.
E-Signing. Put away your quill pen and ink pot. For that matter, leave your gel writer behind. Electronic signatures are standard throughout the contract execution and loan application process, and some states allow electronic signatures on closing documents. It’s only a matter of time before you’ll be able to close in the comfort of your current home. Talk to your Realtor®, your mortgage loan originator, and your title company to understand what you can and cannot sign electronically.
QR Codes. This may be considered among the “older” technologies but it’s still popular, especially on printed marketing material and real estate signs outside homes for sale. A QR (Quick Response) code is similar to the bar code you see on just about everything at the grocery store. You scan the code with your smart phone to access a web page with detailed information about the property and (probably) the Realtor®.
It’s hard to predict what’s next, but savvy professionals will watch trends and embrace the technology their clients want.