The landscape of real estate has changed dramatically in the last eight weeks, as its future was being forged.
To find out where’s it’s been and where it’s going, Point2 Homes conducted a survey of agents from across Canada.
“Real estate agents reported that they were incorporating new solutions into their work process, in an attempt to prepare for the future, but also to navigate the current situation and help home buyers who still want or need to find a home,” says Andra Hopulele, senior real estate writer at Point2 Homes. “We found 28 percent of agents said they had been doing more for their clients, such as taking more pictures of properties and spending more time on the phone answering questions about homes that buyers were unable to visit in person.
“What’s more, 23 percent of respondents said they had become more dependent upon technology and the tools available online. These agents noted they had introduced virtual tours in their home descriptions and even offered live streams to address buyer questions in real time.”
The last survey question was, ‘When it comes to home buying and selling, what permanent changes do you think this outbreak will bring?’ to which agents had varied responses, says Hopulele.
Regarding the pandemic’s more permanent changes to the real estate market, many mentioned a heavier reliance on online tools like virtual tours, live streaming, online buying, virtual signatures and buyer pre-assessment,” she says.
That falls in line with a report from the Canadian Real Estate Association (CREA), which says consumer traffic to its website, realtor.ca, started increasing in mid-April.
As COVID-19 limits how buyers can visit homes, the website is available to realtors to virtually showcase listings by integrating video and 3D tours from 10 of the most popular services.
Realtors can also schedule and promote live-stream open houses using popular platforms such as Facebook Live, Instagram Live, Zoom and YouTube, says Costa Poulopoulos, chair of CREA.
“If there’s one thing 30-plus years in this business has taught me, it’s that as an industry we are early adopters of technology,” says Poulopoulos. “With restrictions on how we can continue to serve our clients, I’m proud that we’ve been able to add features for realtors that allow them to continue to show homes to interested buyers.”
Usage data shows visitors to realtor.ca are increasingly using these features, with a 50 percent increase in users sorting properties to show those with a virtual tour first.
The new live stream feature is attracting significant interest from consumers, says Patrick Pichette, CREA’s vice-president, realtor.ca.
“Since its launch, over 1,200 realtors have conducted more than 5,000 live stream open houses,” says Pichette. “Realtors are also adding more video, 3D virtual tours and floor plans, allowing consumers access to homes, when business-as-usual is not possible.”