Real Estate

Homebuying And Selling In The Time Of Social Distancing

Homebuying And Selling Amid Social Distancing

Land. They’re not making any more of it, as the old saying goes, which is why real estate has always been considered the best investment. And like pretty much everything else post-pandemic, real estate is in need of a reset to put homebuying in line with these “germophobic” times.

Online platform HomeLight has broken away from the pack with its solution, which leverages platform dynamics to create better homebuyer-seller and agent matchups, while bringing Big Data capabilities to bear on pricing to make sure that all parties in a deal are satisfied.

HomeLight CEO Drew Uher recently spoke with PYMNTS’ Karen Webster about the company’s online real estate platform, its ability to match real estate agents and consumers who will enjoy working together, and how new procedures are sensitive to post-pandemic paranoia.

“With a nod to the real estate market at large, Uher said ‘real estate is down, but it’s not out.’ He noted that depending on the markets where one looks, listings and escrow volumes are down between 30 percent to 80 percent as both buyers and sellers have pulled back,” according to PYMNTS coverage.

HomeLight’s survey of agents in April found that that 58 percent of sellers and 51 percent of buyers will delay real estate plans for at least several months. “However, these agents also state that a third of clients on both the buy and sell sides have ‘already started to resume their plans.’ And there is reason to believe the recovery will be long-lasting. There’s enough inventory on hand, at about a three-month level, to keep home prices steady,” PYMNTS said.

Social distancing, unfamiliar domiciles, the dreaded handshake – many small things we took for granted will be strangely missing the next time consumers think about buying a bigger (or smaller) place. In response, HomeLight launched its Move Safe certification program in April, which “…certifies agents (the site now counts 7,000 certified agents and counting) according to their ability to meet with clients virtually, use an electronic signature for documents, ensure the properties are clean and limit showings to serious buyers,” according to the company.

With Uher noting that roughly 90 percent of real estate agents have relied on Zoom (and even mobile phone video cameras) to show properties since the pandemic hit, the ability of agents to meet buyers and sellers virtually and effectively has become crucial. “We’re certifying our agent base to make sure they’re using best practices, and then communicating that to clients,” Uher told PYMNTS.

Signatures are as important as ever, although preserving social distancing requirements will be necessary. HomeLight’s platform and process “…solves the mechanical problem, and also solves the safety problem” of people standing in close quarters signing documents together. This is all by way of creating a new real estate paradigm that Uher calls “simple, certain and satisfying.”

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