This post is a continuation of the Mobile Age of Real Estate series. Click here to start reading from the beginning.
Home viewings can be the most fun part of the home search experience for an agent and their clients. Most of the real estate process is paperwork. Mortgage applications, agreements/offers, home inspection review, etc. Showings are the opportunity house hunters can’t wait for because it gives them a chance to let their imagination run wild! “We’re going to put the couch and tv right here, and the kids can each get their own room, and OMG look at the size of this closet!” The client really gets to envision what their lifestyle will look like in the home.
Showings can also be one of the more frustrating parts of the experience. I’ll give you an example: A pair of clients and myself were looking to see a unit in 19 Grand Trunk Crescent, located off Lower Simcoe Street and Lakeshore Boulevard in downtown Toronto. As agents, we usually receive showing instructions telling us where the lockbox is to retrieve the keys to the property and show the unit. Unfortunately for this building, all lockboxes were on a pole outside the building and most were not labelled with either the unit number or even the listing agents business card on the back. On a cold December evening, my clients had to wait almost 20 minutes while I went through just under 60 different lockboxes. By the time I retrieved the keys I could see in their faces that the enthusiasm we started the evening with was gone.
That’s just one of many experiences I’ve gone through with clients during the showing part of the process. The are plenty of times when availability is the bigger issue. We just came off a very hot market where homes were being snatched up within days, sometimes hours. Having to wait on your agent to coordinate their availability with yours, book the showing, wait on confirmation for the showing and then meet you there can take up valuable time, and cost the client a potential home. The real estate market moves faster and faster as the years go by, and demand for real estate is ramping up how fast homes are bought and sold. According to Inman.com, an industry source proving real estate information, 48% of house hunters want to view a home the same day. Due to availability, most see properties either on Saturday, or during their lunch or after work on weekdays. One of the things new technologies have allowed us to do is see homes we want to see, when we want to see them.
Showings On-Demand! US companies like Naked Apartments have been bridging the gap in this area with innovative solutions. They connect people who want to get inside a new home with nearby realtors ready to take on a new lead. No waiting on when your agent is ready with a service like this. Just make a request on the app and within minutes receive a response to view your dream home. Naked Apartments released a report for the month of June 2018 that shows more than 3,000 showings booked for the month; of those on demand requests, 12% became closed deals. Half of the customers using the platform requested immediate or same day showings. This tells me the demand for on demand showings is ramping up. I’ve experienced it in my own career. Often, it’s tough to coordinate showing times with clients due to their work schedules, so I check out listings on their behalf and record videos for my clients to review. During 2018, I received more requests for this style of home viewing over in person showings due to convenience, and it’s completely understandable. See as many homes as you want without having to leave your living room, or in the case of Naked Apartments you never have to wait on your agent to be ready. Short notice can sometimes be a problem for property owners though and that is something figure out, but it is not as much of an issue in the rental market, where a higher number of homes lay vacant that homes for sale.
Such is the mobile age. Virtual reality has become another tool making it easier to see what you want, how you want, when you want. Many brokerages have started inviting clients to their offices for a VR home tour of their favourite listings; some technologies even offer virtual home staging, so you can get a feel for what your dream home looks like fully furnished! A company named iGuide, located in Waterloo, Ontario, offers 3D property tours with panoramic views of the rooms in a home. I’ve experienced their tech myself and was blown away by its utility.
House hunters have been able to seize control of their experience thanks to new technologies in the mobile age. Open source data, mortgage tech, real estate match making and on demand home tours offer a level of transparency, and convenience, that we’ve been craving in real estate. Unfortunately, what our recent hot market showed me is that consumers still have very little control regarding transparency during the offers and negotiation part of the process… but even that is beginning to change…