How Technology is Transforming the Real Estate Landscape

How Technology is Transforming the Real Estate Landscape

Market conditions and changing consumer behavior often bring poignant change in a given industry over time. That's what has happened in the real estate industry in the last decade. Real estate companies are focusing more on digital innovations in their business models. More and more companies are building real estate websites, apps, and platforms. For agents and brokers, using technology is necessary to collect, assess and report on listings and consumer behavior. On the flip-side, that same technology can often impact their businesses negatively. Furthermore, a whole range of digital platforms are springing up to make the "for sale by owner" option easier.

Today, digital innovation is redefining what it means to buy or sell a home and exciting digital trends are emerging in this new digital landscape. How will they impact the real estate industry for good or bad? Here is a list of a few factors to illustrate how technology is transforming the real estate industry right now:

1. Transparency

As more data companies provide real estate information to the public through digital mediums such as websites, blogs, and cloud applications, people will become more aware of real-time data as compared to that of past decades when only newspapers and word of mouth were the communication mediums. These easily accessible platforms will provide transparency in the real estate industry like never before with regards to property availability, pricing, data curation and whether a property is for sale by owner or agent represented.

2. Quicker Transactions

Remember the time when it used to take months to close a deal? Today, digital platforms are making it easier to sell and buy properties. Sometimes in a matter of days and that time will continue to get smaller. Even if you're a newbie to real estate, you can get information online and work it out quickly. You can no longer say you don't know how to sell your house fast. Using search engines and advanced data tools available in real estate mobile apps, you can now instantly access information related to a property such as price, property details, comparable properties and even whether or not you can afford a particular home. Don't forget that just a few years ago none of this data was easily accessible. In fact, consumers now tell their agents about houses they want to see.

3. Efficient Marketing

Marketing is one of the most significant technology-enabled updates to the real estate industry. You'll find many websites such as Zillow, Redfin, and Trulia that help you broadcast your message with tremendous visibility. There is more opportunity than ever to get your home in front of potential buyers by using free tools and social media.

4. Accurate and Updated Data

For the last 20 years or so, regular homebuyers and sellers did not have access to real-time data, even if it's your property. You haven't had the power to do with that information what you'd like. It has been held up in systems that can only be accessed by a select few. However, with new digital platforms emerging in the real estate industry, you're getting immediate and accurate data along with expert analysis and critical trending points. Access to data and freedom to decide how you use that data is probably the single most empowering change that new technology is providing.

The Future of Digital Real Estate

Let's discuss how things are going to look in the real estate industry in the upcoming years. Here are a few transformations you should watch out for:

1. Chatbots, Voice Enablement, and Artifical Intelligence

Maybe you've heard about the efficiency of chatbots recently. Some of the peoples' favorite products such as Apple's Siri and Amazon's Echo use voice-controlled chatting architectures to engage with customers, and this is the case for many other industries. Companies use chatbots for efficient customer service, and though you may not have noticed, you've most likely already dealt with chatbots when you're shopping online or browsing a website. These technologies and the devices they power will revolutionize the real estate industry by improving lead generation and providing powerful customer services without large service teams or growing overhead. Chatbots, voice, and AI will play a significant role in engaging home buyers and sellers and bring significant value to companies focused on redefining the current real estate ecosystem.

2. Augmented Reality and Virtual Reality

In just the last few years, we've seen new technologies like low cost, high-quality drone footage and online home tours take off. But this is nothing compared to what AR and VR will bring to the industry. Imagine sitting at home and taking a guided tour of a house in 3 dimensions with a simple VR headset and your smartphone. Or use your smartphone to see how your desired furniture will fill an empty house. Inspectors, appraisers, insurance carriers and many other stakeholders will use these technologies to streamline every process in the transaction making it easy for home buyers and sellers to work directly with each other.

3. Blockchain

In September 2016, Cook County Illinois Recorder of Deeds announced that they would take part in a pilot program, along with California based Velox RE, to study how they could use blockchain technology for Illinois land records. Their focus was to uncover opportunities and potential roadblocks in using blockchain technologies. Their goal; to simplify and secure property transfers on a distributed ledger. Their findings are here. This pilot program is only one indication that not only are private companies getting involved but local, state and federal governments as well.

The term "blockchain" is often used synonymously with "Bitcoin," the cryptocurrency that has brought blockchain technology into the limelight but blockchain technology is much broader than the Bitcoin use case. It will play a significant role in the future of real estate.

In a 2016 report released by Goldman Sachs, "Blockchain: Putting Theory into Practice," title insurance is likely the only type of insurance where the cost of the insurance is not directly tied to actuarial risk but based on the labor and effort of the title company employees. In short, inefficiency is driving the cost of title insurance. There is nothing more ripe for disruption than inefficiency-driven cost.

Though implementing blockchain technologies will take time and the collaboration of many groups including local and state governments, the potential for securing title and property transfers while reducing inefficiency and cost is unprecedented.

The past 5-7 years have seen significant shifts in real estate due to technological advancement, but it's just getting started, and we plan to play a leading role in the change.

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A Buyer’s Guide

A Buyer's Guide

So, you’re ready to purchase a home. Before you start calling sellers to look at homes, you first want to get some things in order. If you want to be considered as a serious and ready buyer, you need to find a lender and get pre-qualified. Being pre-qualified will help you find out what you can afford and equip you with a pre-approval letter. Often, sellers will not allow a showing if you do not have this taken care of. Need to find a lender? You can sign up with Vidulist and choose from our hand-picked lenders. Plus, Vidulist is free for buyers.

After you’re pre-qualified, you’ll want to search for a home that will fall within the price you’ve been pre-qualified for. The Internet has made it so easy for a buyer to find any house on the market, not just real estate agents. Find the best sites in your area for homes that are listed for sale. Sites like Zillow and Redfin are always great but there are also local sites that can be great tools.

One of the greatest misconceptions about buying a home is that you need a real estate agent to see a home. You can contact the listing agent or the seller of any property on your own to set up a showing. Be ready to provide your pre-approval letter because there’s a good chance they’ll ask to see it. When using online tools, be sure contact the seller or their broker directly, not a broker that is advertising on the website. Look for contact information for the listing agent or homeowner. And remember, you don’t need a broker when you use Vidulist.

Once you’ve seen and decided on your new home, it is time to get the offer together. Prior to submitting the offer find out from the seller what they are planning on including in the sale. This is called inclusions. Sellers often includes the kitchen appliances and sometimes the washer and dryer, or even the theater equipment. Find this out so you can include these details in the offer. If the seller is on Vidulist, there’s no need for this since we’ll ask the seller the right questions. Then you’ll need to ask the seller which title company they have selected and how much earnest money they are asking for. Once you have this information, Vidulist will walk you through the offer step by step.

Now it’s time to make the offer. You will want to make sure your approval letter from your lender is included with the offer so the seller knows you are a solid buyer. With Vidulist, you’ll upload your letter and we’ll take it from there.

Once the buyer receives your offer they can accept—which is ideal, counter your offer or even decline it. If you receive a counteroffer you can either accept the counteroffer or you can counter in return. You can counter back and forth with the seller as much as you would like. Just make sure you keep track of what was countered and what was accepted as any signed counteroffer becomes part of the contract. Worried about keeping track? Vidulist makes this process easy and smooth.

Coming to an agreement is and exciting moment. It is the end of looking for a home and the start of making it yours. When under contract there are a few crucial components to manage.

First is getting the earnest money delivered. Earnest money is an amount that you the you commit to put down showing that you are a serious buyer. This money is held by the title company to make sure the deal goes smooth. Make sure to meet the contract deadlines so you do not lose your earnest money.

Second is the inspection. Hire a professional inspector to go through the home and point out any major problems with it. You’ll take any issues back to the seller and ask them to make some of the repairs pointed out during the inspection. Be sure to keep a level head during the inspection process. This can be a stressful time and it can make you feel like you are buying a money pit. All homes have defects, decide which ones are important to fix and which ones you can live with or fix down the road. On average sellers will give $500-$2,000 in repairs depending on the condition of the home.

After you settle the inspection items, you only have two other items to check off—the appraisal and the loan approval. Your lender handles both of these but you will want to make sure the appraisal is on track to meet the appraisal deadline. You can get updates on this from your lender. The loan approval is also up to the lender but you can keep the process running smooth by getting the lender any information or documentation they ask for within one day. The lending process can be very repetitive and frustrating. The key is to just do what they ask for, no matter how trivial or ridiculous it sounds. You will be much happier that way.

Vidulist gives you the ability to create amendments if you ever need more time for your lender to finalize the loan, or extend dates with the appraiser or inspector. This is a handy tool so you can keep the deal alive but do not abuse it. Use it only when absolutely necessary and always communicate with the seller to keep them in the loop. This will help with a smooth transaction.

Once these items are completed you are ready to close also knows as “clear to close”. You will set up a time with the title company for closing on your new home. The title company is there to answer questions and to finalize all of the closing documents to make sure the process is legal and final.

Taking on the purchase of your home on your own can seem like a daunting task. It will take some time and patience but the money it will save you is well worth it. Take full advantage of the tools that Vidulist offers and your experience will be far less stressful and much more enjoyable. Good luck on your journey to purchasing your next home!

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...In With the New

Since selling a home has been a thing, Real Estate agents have been a vital part of the process. From advising sellers on prepping their home for sale, to marketing, to contracts and negotiations, all the way to closing, they have helped their clients navigate the sometimes confusing process of buying and selling a home. In recent years the Internet has made advertising and marketing homes more automated. It has improved and streamlined the process of buying and selling a home for both agents and homeowners. Sellers have realized that advertising their home is something they can do on their own. There are many resources for seeing what’s on the market. Sellers can finally choose how their home is listed and there are online resources to advertise that property to prospective buyers. But then what? That’s where Vidulist steps in to fill the gaps.

Vidulist provides online tools that guide you, the seller or buyer, through the real estate process. You answer a few simple questions to navigate the contractual process of buying or selling your home. Vidulist keeps you informed about the sales process so that you're always aware of upcoming deadlines, what forms to use, when to use them, and what to do next. With this simple resource, the buyer and seller can walk themselves through the entire process to legally complete the sale.

Technology is enabling the public to help themselves whether it’s taxes, investing or now, thanks to Vidulist, Real Estate. Take control of your biggest investment and allow Vidulist to help you with your Real Estate sale from start to finish. You’ll keep thousands of dollars in your pocket while you confidently negotiate every aspect of buying or selling your next home.

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