In the past few years new technology development has brought some pretty massive changes to the real estate world. To see this transformation has been both exciting and massively disruptive. For decades the industry, especially on the residential side, has been operating in essentially the same way – Real estate brokers and their sales agents have ruled supreme, and there was little opportunity to break out of the traditional sales model of:
The “traditional” process of selling a home
- Decide you want to sell
- Find an agent
- Spend potentially thousands of dollars fixing up the property to be “market ready”
- List the home for a period of time on the MLS
- Your agent (to varying degrees) tries to market the property
- Go through the process of showing the property and open houses
- Get an offer
- Sign a Purchase and Sale Agreement
- Hope financing comes through for the buyer
- Take time out of your day to go to the closing
- Move (which is a whole other headache!)
This the accepted model, and there was little in the way of alternatives. Yes – you could always try and sell your home FSBO, but even getting a property listed on the MLS (because it’s controlled by the real estate broker world) was nearly impossible. No matter what, you were still going to go through some variation of the list above, because that simply was the process.
Today things are different. Today you can potentially go through the entire process of selling your home without ever having another person step foot inside. Let’s look at what I believe are the top three technologies that are changing the way you can sell your home.
1. 3D Virtual Home Tours
What is it?
The first technology changing real estate today is 3d tours like those offered by Matterport. The term virtual tour is tremendously overused in the real estate industry. To me, a bunch of photos of the home are just that – a bunch of photos. They may give some idea of what the home looks like, but it doesn’t really give a sense of the space. This is where technology like Matterport comes into play. Matterport is a three-dimensional camera system that can be used to create realistic, fully immersive experiences. The camera is able to capture both an image of the space, as well as a depth scan, and its software marries the two together. Do this multiple times, and you’re able to create a “dollhouse” experience, where someone is then able to virtually walk through the home, look around, and get a true sense of the “space”. The first time you experience it is wild.
Why it’s a gamechanger
3d tours like Matterport remove the need to actually walk through a home (which has become especially important during the COVID-19 epidemic (for our suggestions for selling a home after coronavirus click here). Instead, a potential buyer can tour the home from the comfort (and safety) of their sofa. If they like what they see, they can decide to move forward. I’ve heard of several homes recently being sold without the new buyer ever actually stepping foot inside the property until after closing. The buyers felt that they had a strong enough idea of the home from just viewing the 3d tour to make an offer and move forward with the process.
2. Chatbots for real estate
The second technology changing real estate is chatbots, or conversational agents (they mean the same thing). When it comes to chatbots and conversational marketing, I’ll admit I’m biased. My background is largely in conversational artificial intelligence, and I’ve built bot for some of the largest companies on the planet. The beauty of a chatbot for real estate is that it has simplified the process of answering common questions about a property, and can cut hours, if not days, off of the initial “fact finding” part of a sale.
What is it?
How? Let’s imagine that a potential buyer drives by your home. It doesn’t really matter whether you’ve listed it with a broker, or you’re trying to sell it FSBO. On your sign you’ve got a number that a person can text (of course – you could also have a website for the property, which we’ll cover in a different article, where the bot lives). When someone texts the number, instead of a person having to respond, your chatbot can handle it. It can greet the person, and offer to answer any questions that they might have about your home. If you think about it, most people really only have a few common questions:
- How many bathrooms/bedrooms does it have?
- What is the square footage?
- How much land is there?
- When was it renovated?
- Do you have pictures?
- When can i see it?
And so on.
Why its a gamechanger
The beauty of a real estate chatbot is that all of those questions (and more) can be answered automatically, in a conversational way. The bot can send them pictures, provide links to the listing or property website, and if someone wants to actually schedule a time to see it, it can hand that off to a real person, or even send them a link to schedule an appointment – all on autopilot. Its like having an assistant whose only job is to answer common questions for you.
How do you get a real estate chatbot? The short answer is that you’ll either have to build it yourself (or have your broker find someone to do it). The upside is that there are a number of easy to use platforms, like Manychat and Crisp that allow you to build one without having to know anything about writing code – they’re both drag and drop style platforms. This means that if you can draw a flowchart, you can build a chatbot. Lets look at our third technology
3. Real Estate iBuyers
Our third (and final) technology that is changing real estate is actually an entirely new type of player in the industry – the “iBuyer”.
What is it?
A real estate iBuyer is a company that leverages a wide variety of different technologies to streamline the process of buying and selling homes. By replacing traditional steps in the process with intelligent automation and artificial intelligence, they are able to remove a significant amount of the time and effort that it takes to determine whether or not they want to buy your home.
Yes – they (actually “we”, as Simply is also an iBuyer) are the ones buying your home, rather than the traditional model where an agent or broker acts as a middleman in the transaction. Think of an iBuyer as a value-added platform – imagine if Ebay actually bought everything that people wanted to sell, cleaned the products up, and then made them available for other to buy them in their new, cleaned condition, with a strong company standing behind them. This is what an iBuyer does. Some iBuyers are only willing to do very minor repairs and updates – basically just paint and maybe swapping out a countertop or floor. Others, like Simply, are willing to take homes in worse condition, and do significantly more work – even a gut-level renovation. At Simply, we purchase homes that are in need of repairs and updating, do the work (either ourselves our our investor partners), and then the homes are put back on to the open market for other to buy – its basically the Certified Pre-Owned version of home selling!
Why are iBuyers a gamechanger?
The simple answer – they’re disrupting an industry that hasn’t really changed in almost 100 years. By applying a combination of technology, artificial intelligence, and the social power of the internet, they’re democratizing the way homes are bought and sold, in a process that puts the power in the hands of the homeowner. These transactions (especially on the owner-selling side) are technically considered “off-market” which means that the homes aren’t listed on the Multiple Listing Service (or “MLS”) before they are bought by the iBuyer. Off-market home sales aren’t subject to the typical fees and commissions that a Realtor would charge – this alone can save you thousands of dollars, which goes right back into your pocket!
The important part of choosing an iBuyer to work with is understanding the reality of the state of your house. If the home is in great condition (you’ve recently made updates or done a renovation), and is relatively new (less than 30 years old), then often times companies like Zillow Offers, Offerpad, or Opendoor are going to be your best bet. If your home needs some work, and you want to sell it “as-is”, then a company like Simply is the better fit. Simply buys older homes that need repairs and updates. Also be aware that different platforms are going to be willing to negotiate more or less than others. Some are entirely driven by artificial intelligence and algorithms. Others, like Simply, will want to visit your home and get an idea of work that will be needed. The former will be less willing to negotiate than the latter.
The final piece to take into account when choosing an iBuyer is flexibility in the actual closing. Can you choose when you want to close? Are you able to rent the home back for a month or two while you find your next house? These are things to consider when making a major life decision.
These are only a few of the major gamechangers in real estate
3D home tours, real estate chatbots, and iBuyers are only a few of the changes that have come to the real estate industry in the past few years. They are absolutely shifting the way that the world of buying and selling homes operates, but, at the end of the day, there are a few truths that will always hold true – Be realistic in what your home is worth, make sure that everything is clearly defined, and know that regardless of what technology or services you choose when selling a home, make sure that your contracts are complete. If you have other ideas that you believe are changing the world of real estate, let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org