Tech Tools to Help Pros Thrive During the Pandemic

November 17, 2020

The average real estate transaction takes 181 steps from beginning to end, according to Nick Bailey, chief customer officer at RE/MAX LLC. During the COVID-19 pandemic, practitioners quickly adapted to complete those steps digitally and in a contactless way.

“A lot of the technology at the forefront right now isn’t new, but it may be new to a lot of agents,” said Bailey, who took part in a panel Monday during a session called “Emerging Technology: COVID-19 Transforming How REALTORS® Do Business” at the virtual 2020 REALTORS® Conference & Expo. “We have been slow to adopt these technologies, but we were forced to quickly adapt during the pandemic.”

During state shutdowns earlier this year, real estate professionals increasingly relied on virtual and 3D tours, videoconferencing, augmented reality, automation, artificial intelligence, and remote online notarizations, said Jeb Griffin, director of strategy and innovation at the National Association of REALTORS®. “Technology is playing a more active role through the buying and selling cycle, and agents are playing an even bigger role to consumers who are having less access to homes in person [due to the pandemic],” Griffin said.

Marilyn Wilson, managing partner at WAV Group, and other panelists gave a rundown of the technology tools that have become mainstream in real estate since the pandemic began:

  • Happy Grasshopper, HomeActions, and IXACTContact have helped real estate pros to maintain close contact with clients when in-person meetings aren’t possible.
  • Video messaging tools like BombBomb enable real estate professionals to respond to online leads or clients in a more personal way and helps them stand out from the competition.
  • Videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams keep brokers connected to their agents and provide a platform for online training.
  • 3D home tours delivered through platforms like Matterport and Immoviewer enable buyers to peruse properties virtually.
  • Digital transaction management tools like DocuSign, Dotloop, and Notarize take transactions completely online so clients aren’t required to physically attend closings.
  • BoxBrownie helps real estate professionals to stage properties virtually as well as compile 2D or 3D floorplans to offer customers a sense of a home’s layout.

“Virtual tours are here to stay,” Bailey said. “Instead of viewing 15 houses in person, buyers may view 12 virtual tours online, and then they may want to look at three or four in person.”

But once the pandemic fades, “we can’t start falling back into old habits,” Wilson said. She cited research conducted by the WAV Group and the Houston Association of REALTORS® that shows consumers’ affinity for virtual tours, which help them narrow their home search. “Think of how many hours you could save as an agent, too. And your consumers are saying they’re already very comfortable with it,” she said.

The future now requires “taking the traditional way of doing business and augmenting it with new ways that will allow you to serve customers in a variety of ways—and on their terms,” said Andy Ambrose, DocuSign practice lead director at DocuSign Notary.

Look to your brokerage for more technology tools to adopt, panelists said. See what you already have access to that you may not be using. Also, look to your MLS and the National Association of REALTORS®. For example, access to the REALTORS Property Resource® is a benefit of NAR membership that you can use to create customized housing reports, panelists said. “If every agent, during or after the pandemic, just took away two pieces of technology that could help make them more efficient, it would be a reward to their business,” Bailey said.

The following companies are graduates of the NAR REACH tech accelerator program: BombBomb, BoxBrownie.com, Immoviewer, and Notarize. DocuSign is part of NAR's Second Century Ventures. NAR has made strategic investments through Second Century Ventures and the REACH tech accelerator companies. Learn more: SCV.vc