With existing home sales tumbling by almost 27 percent in May 2020 year over year, the pandemic has walloped real estate on several fronts and like few other sectors.
The Digital Consumer Onboarding Tracker® done in collaboration with Melissa, shines a light on the innovation and adaptation in the real estate sector, particularly as regards the suddenly ubiquitous practice of … you guessed it … digital onboarding. It may help save real estate.
“One major change [resulting from COVID-19] concerns how potential customers want to initiate contact with real estate agents and conduct many of the first property-buying steps, such as uploading documents or participating in house tours,” the new Tracker states.
“Many markets’ stay-at-home orders led consumers looking for new homes to rely on digital tools. Listings on property marketplace Zillow that offered virtual tours were saved 50 percent more often by users between March 1 and early April than those that did not, for example. Some markets that have partially reopened, such as New York City, have mandated certain changes to in-person meetings to minimize potential health risks.”
Such is the now-alien landscape of home buying. Access to and work with large, diverse datasets is a critical strategy for realtors now as they try to maintain that spray-tan composure, showcase a property’s assets and close — all very possibly via video chat. The Digital Consumer Onboarding Tracker® is a vital resource to industry players dealing with the new real estate.
‘The Absence of Options’
It’s a calamity professionals are racing to solve by cobbling together video conferencing tech with various forms of document transfer. It’s a bit all over the place, but that’s chaos for you.
“The current crisis has essentially eliminated in-person open houses or face-to-face meetings between clients and real estate agents, resulting in the use of digital tools for these activities. Video technology-enabled and virtual home showings saw increased prevalence as stay-at- home orders were put in place,” per the Digital Consumer Onboarding Tracker®.
“New York City-based online platform StreetEasy had more than 2,000 listings offering video tours on its website in early April, for example, with roughly half of these being added between March 15 and March 30. This shows that many potential clients sought out digital alternatives to help them accomplish their homebuying goals in the absence of in-person options.”
As with all other industries jarringly forced deeper online back in Q2, unknown and unknowable disease fears, lockdowns and work-from-home disruptions put real estate in a tight spot. Sector innovation kicked in, however, and solutions are clarifying as the COVID fog lifts.
“This shift brings about the need for tools that can handle online onboarding and digital KYC as well as processes such as mortgage negotiations and payments, but integrating these complex solutions presents a few stumbling blocks for real estate firms,” per the Tracker.
“They must ensure the onboarding technologies they utilize are fast, easy to navigate and secure, meaning data accuracy and upgraded fraud protection tools should be top-of-mind.”
Getting The Data Piece Right
Big Realty is no slouch when it comes to providing digital experiences, developing apps and platforms already surprisingly ready for post-pandemic home selling. But blind spots remain.
“Companies investing in digital onboarding processes could bolster their fraud protection methods and KYC solutions by leveraging online platforms to handle and categorize data. They can achieve this by pulling from alternative data sources or caches — including geotagging and biometric solutions — to quickly and securely authenticate the information customers provide or to finalize contracts through the use of online notaries, for example,” the Tracker states.
“Real estate firms’ fundamental shifts in their customer service approaches as well as the COVID-19 pandemic’s acceleration of digital solutions will ultimately force firms to reconsider how they treat data and what steps they must take to enable seamless and secure online onboarding.”