House hunting using technology
Ten years back if you were buying a home or taking one on rent, your go-to-person was the ubiquitous broker who seemingly had answers to all your questions. You would commit him with the task of buying a home, and with that your dreams, aspirations, hopes et al. But now your go-toperson is the internet. With Google at your fingertips and smart phone an extension of your being, you are now an empowered “partner” in the home search, and not a mere ‘client’ in broker language.
Cut to early 2000, and less than half the people who were on the hunt for a house used the web while purchasing a home. In less than two decades, more than 80% of people use web when buying a house and they use it frequently for the entire lifecycle of a home purchase or rent. Home buying in the times of technology has seen a sea change.
So what are the attributes that define the home buying process today? People now use search engines, news sites, locality maps, applications and refer to the property photos, floor planningdetails, social media comments and testimonials of the property in question and even agent with virtual tools. There is an emphasis on‘ faceless communication’ at least in the Phase 1 of the home buying process that is all about research. Before even meeting once, buyers want all information and presentations sent. Buyers want tobe tex ting than talking. The preference is for online research and virtual walk th roughs rather than offline site visits. Once the email rounds are over comes the telephonic discussion. Since they manage to get most of the generic information from the net, and come to the broker after a fair amount of research with very specific queries, speed and efficiency are the cornerstones of the new process. Buyers have a checklist ready of further queries which the agents are expected to answer. Buyers seek valid information, and they want it right now. Last come the site visits. But buyers or renters are seldom seen asking agents to find homes for them to see. They choose the neighbourhood and have the list of homes almost ready based on secondary research. Agents need to be smarter. Agrees past president of the Toronto Real Estate Board, Richard Silver who has been a speaker and writer about the use of technology in real estate: “Buyers today are more adept with navigating the internet, and therefore have the ability to easily find reviews of an agent or the best mortgage rates. In terms of what they demand, I would say it would be fast replies their inquiries.” He finds his team “texting more, using Ins tag ram, P interest, We Chat and WhatsApp, than ever before.“There is a radical change in also what influences the homebuyer. The listing photos if appealing and “instagrammable” will clinch the deal. Listings photo are often times overlooked or neglected However they most definitely play a major role in presenting a property on the market and the net savvy buyer. Another factor is the origin of the house, the heritage aspect, the vicinity. Agents need not always use logic and reasoning to sell the property to the client- often times they forget one of the most important tool -- storytelling! • Home preference is personal but buyers are concerned more about practical factors such as connectivity, conveniences and security of a neigh bo ur hood. They want to be able to get to work and back home quickly and enjoy a decent level of social amenities in the area they live in. Buyers love agents who come as a“one stop shop” for everything–from home search to someone who can give good referrals to contractors and vendors and interior decorators. The question lurking in many minds is that will the real estate broker/consultant finally get replaced? May be never, but the brokers’ role and function is getting redefined. He is and will always remain integral to the home buying process.
But real estate consultants need to keep themselves abreast with the latest It is mandatory that he has an all-inclusive knowledge about the product portfolio, classification of the property and its limitations, physical property history, locality information (geographical, administrative and economics), credibility of the builder and property potential, data on the current expenses of the property, utility and insurance. “Multiple property solution at times should be the key skill that a broker must have,” says Mahesh Somani, Chairman National R ERA Committee, NAR-INDIA who feels that the role of a real estate consultant is pivotal for the eternity.
According to him an online search can never provide such incisive information as the quality of the construction, developer’s previous track records, detailed information about the land and its deeds, gauging on-time delivery. Sometimes, websites can give out wrong information. To corroborate facts, the need of a realtor or property advisor, arises.
Man can never replace machines. But machines or technology will definitely add up to home buyer’ s toolkit, making him an empowered entity. (Namrata Kohli tracks everything from House to Home, from real estate to interiors and capturing key trends in property markets in India and globally)
There has been a radical change in the way in which people people buy homes nowadays