The Value of a Great Real Estate Agent moving forward
One perspective on what real estate transactions may look like.
Homes that get multiple offers are often sold in an "auction" atmosphere. If you think back to the last auction you saw on TV or participated in online, you'll remember this basic element of Auctions 101: the starting price is lower – sometimes quite a bit lower than the final sale price.
In fact, it's the low list or starting price that gets people excited about the possibility of scoring a great value, whether they're bidding on an antique Chinese pug figurine on eBay or on your home. And when it comes to your home, it's that same, low-price-seeking excitement that will cause many more buyers to show up and view your home than would have come at a higher price point.
In real estate, more showings are an inescapable prerequisite to more offers.
This doesn't mean you have to give away the farm, just that sellers who get multiple offers price their properties from a retailer's or auctioneer's perspective. Work with your agent through the comparable sales data – as recent and as comparable as possible – and then do your best to list your home as a slight discount, not at a slight premium, compared to the recent neighborhood sales. That will get buyers' attention.
It was already happening, but with current events, it is clearer now more than ever having a tech-savvy real estate agent is essential in creating a successful transaction. Up to the beginning of March, it was another great real estate year. San Mateo and Santa Clara Counties sales were nearly the same as 2019, then…the number of 3D home tours created on Zillow skyrocketed 188% in March as more and more home buyers, sellers, and agents under stay-at-home orders are turned to technology. Since the beginning of March, virtual home tours online are up 408% even as listings are down 27%. This tells us there a tremendous shift in how real estate is being viewed and how we can anticipate what the industry will look like in the near future.
We know traditionally agents and clients have gotten together to sign contracts, review documents, prepare listings and to review buying opportunities. Now, at least for the moment, none of that is possible, and like most time-bound events, there’s no going back.
Zillow is now just 10 years old, but at that time they and others have built similar businesses around the internet. Other names like Redfin, Compass and Keller Williams have built their own online home search platforms with mobile apps. And, a few agents have developed similar platforms.
While most customers, on both the sellers’ and buyers’ side of transactions, have gone online to either compare their property to others or find the perfect home, never have these services been more essential to the process than now. These services allow buyers and sellers to match and fit their needs and dreams to the reality of the marketplace. Before the internet, as we now know it, MLSs published listing books, then there were webpages, IDX for locating properties and now there are virtual walkthroughs that allow interested parties to see properties as never before. Hardcopy paper documents are nearly a thing of the past with processes for storing, filing, reviewing and signing documents all in the Cloud.
Will we view homes as in the past? Of course. The difference will be that everyone will be able to preview a large number of properties online in greater detail. Also, as AI takes hold, the characteristics for every home previewed will be logged, and users can record their preferences guiding and streamlining future searches, thus saving time. Disclosures will be immediately available to all potential buyers, downloads being recorded thus allowing seller agents to communicate directly with interested parties. Agents will send all contract documents as they do now, but how contract documents are reviewed is likely to change, such that the disclosures are accompanied with audible and visual cues that might include animations illustrating key points walking a client through each process. This will be augmented with drag and click options.
Further down the road, we can expect dynamic interfaces, which as one walks a home, those interfaces will identify areas of interest. These might take the form of a pin or even one’s own cell phone with geo-location and lasers – pinpointing both good features and inspection callouts (privacy controlled by the user). Automated entry systems may also allow buyers to preview homes without an agent.
With the pin or other devices, various sensors will connect to a 5G network or the next-gen which will allow buyers to preview homes sharing with their experience with significant others in realtime, who would otherwise not be able to attend. We expect these devices will even know how many people are in the room with facial recognition.
Disclosures and waivers will also look different. Not to just protect participant rights and to acknowledge pertinent facts about a home, but to include safety concerns.
As agents, we will have to actually step up our game, because as one can imagine, nearly every aspect of a transaction from the first moment that an agent meets a buyer or seller, most likely online, everything will be recorded. As social distancing becomes an accepted norm, agents will have to find new tools to protect their clients’ interests. It is likely that these protections will be quickly adopted. Even as we are experiencing the COVID-19 pandemic the rules have changed with new disclosures and released required with each property viewing. The entire process will be highly curated, again saving clients time.
If nothing else these events illustrate how critical it Is to have an agent who acts with extreme professionalism at all times. While, yes, there have been more online visits, there have not been more property viewings. As of this moment, all open houses we know of have been canceled until the “Shelter-In-Place” order ends. Yet, transactions are moving forward. Between documents designed legally and now physically to protect all transaction parties, inspections, disclosures and contingencies have taken on new and greater importance. Having a great tech-savvy agent in your court is more important now more than ever.