How technology is making homebuying better

We’re on top of the technology world with our one-of-a-kind, homebuying tool: HOMEmatch!Red House HOMEmatch Advertorial FinalWhether someone is looking for a new home or an existing home, technology has completely altered the way real estate is bought and sold.

Thirty years ago, homebuying typically involved calling a real estate broker, telling him what type of home you wanted, then driving around while he showed you houses he thought somewhat matched your description. Some people searched home listings in real estate magazine or newspapers. Some just hopped in the car and drove around areas they liked watching for “house for sale” signs.

Whether someone is looking for a new home or an existing home, technology has completely altered the way real estate is bought and sold.

Buyers have more control

“The online real estate world is making it easier than ever for buyers and sellers to become more self-reliant throughout the entire process — from finding homes to completing the purchase or sale,” explains Steve Udelson in an article for Forbes. “No longer are buyers completely beholden to agents. Instead, they can do their own research, understand the pricing dynamics and future value projections in the neighborhood where they want to buy and schedule house tours on their own.”

Agents still valued

The increased use of tech doesn’t mean buyers are ready to abandon brokers, however. A 2016 report from Zillow found more than 70 percent of home buyers still use a real estate agent and half enlist an agent at the start of their search. When it comes to the things buyers expect from an agent, 67 percent of customers want brokers to schedule home tours, 58 percent want notifications about new homes becoming available and 44 percent expect agents to pre-screen homes.

Real estate agents are also embracing technology as a way to extend their reach through personal websites, blogs, online forms, etc.

Online search tools

A wide variety of online search tools allow potential buyers to screen available properties for desirable features, such as price range, number of rooms and bathrooms, total square footage, yard size, home style, construction date, etc. Many even allow buyers to search for specific must-haves like a main floor laundry or a three-car garage.

Mobile homebuying

When today’s home seekers refer to mobile homebuying, it has nothing to do with trailer parks. Rather, a 2017 report from the National Association of Realtors showed 58 percent of millennials and 46 percent of Generation X homebuyers found their homes using a mobile device like a smartphone or tablet. As one might expect, younger buyers are more comfortable with internet usage, with 93 percent of homebuyers younger than 36 searching for homes online. In contrast, the Zillow report showed just 71 percent of buyers 65 and older did any online research.

Improved communication

One challenge when looking for homes to buy used to be just getting in contact with the agent. Many were busy and difficult to reach by phone. Today that is less of a problem because people shopping for houses and real estate brokers have adopted other communication methods. The NAR report showed 94 percent of agents communicate with clients by email and 90 percent communicated with clients via texting. Another 34 percent used instant messaging.

Bonus: Smarter homes

In addition to improvements in the way homes are purchased, today’s buyers also expect to see technological improvements in the houses themselves. Whenever possible, buyers want smart home features that give them control through smartphone apps. Real estate agents report 62 percent of buyers want to be able to control locks using an app, 61 percent want to be able to control lights and 60 percent want a smart thermostat. Security is also important with 51 percent expecting cameras.

Technology has revamped the homebuying process, making it easier for potential homebuyers to become more informed and educated about the homes they consider. Whether buying a new home with advanced features and contemporary design or trying to find an existing home, a home purchase remains among the most important investments most people ever make. Because of that, it makes sense to take advantage of every tool that makes the process better.

Flint Stephens has a master’s degree in communication. He writes regularly on business, financial and medical topics.