The “white picket fence dream” may well be a relic of the past, but for many, the American dream still isn’t complete without owning a place one can call home. According to a 2021 report by the National Association of REALTORS, 56% of 22 to 30-year-olds and 39% of 31 to 40 year-olds are primarily driven by the desire of owning a home when they decide to buy one.
Even so, the pandemic has brought about some major changes in the house-hunting process. Virtual home tours and virtual showings have largely replaced in-person tours and face-to-face showings to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. On Zillow, the ratio of listings featuring open houses to listings featuring 3D virtual walkthroughs has gone from 8.2 in 2019 to 1.6 in 2021.
Clearly, virtual home buying experiences are here to stay and real estate developers need to jump aboard this trend quickly if they want to be competitive. In this article, we’ll take a look at the virtual home buying process, its benefits for Builders and developers and how they can implement it easily.
What is Virtual Home Buying?
Virtual home buying is all about taking the entire home buying experience online. In other words, with virtual home buying, you allow potential buyers to explore properties through 3D virtual tours that they can access from anywhere and even manage the paperwork online to make the overall experience more efficient for everyone.
Benefits of a Virtual Home Buying Program
Many realtors use FaceTime and Zoom calls to provide video tours of homes to potential buyers. But a virtual home buying experience offers much more than that.
Besides enabling 3D virtual walkthroughs of properties, it allows buyers to customize the design, compare options and even facilitates electronic pre-approvals and loan applications. Let’s take a look at some of its most notable benefits.
- It saves time. If a potential buyer plans to visit a property you’ve listed, you’ll have to schedule a meeting first. After that, it would take you a good deal of time to show them around and later, for paperwork.
But there’s a good chance that they may not like the property which means all those hours would be wasted. With a virtual home buying app, your buyers get a floor-by-floor, room-by-room VR tour without the need for you to show up. Thus both parties can save a lot of productive time.
- It boosts buyer satisfaction. A property purchase decision is never a quick one. Buyers will take their time and are likely to consult with their families. But it isn’t possible for any seller to make the property available for viewing all the time.
Virtual home buying solves this problem. Through a virtual tour, you can make your property available to customers 24/7. They can explore it as many times as they wish.
Also, with platforms like Hyphen HomeSight, buyers can even customize their future homes. Such flexibility greatly boosts customer satisfaction. No wonder, 80% of buyers are likely to switch to real estate agents who offer listings with 3D virtual tours.
- It’s perfect for selling homes during a raging pandemic. In the age of social distancing, buyers prefer not to show up in person while house-hunting. That’s why virtual tours are so in demand.
Sure, high-quality images and videos can be used to showcase properties too, but buyers are skeptical about them as it’s easy to hide “flaws” with the magic of Photoshop. For instance, making the rooms appear bigger than they are. With virtual tours, buyers can get an accurate sense of the property while following COVID protocols.
Understanding the Components of a Virtual Home Buying Experience
To fully embrace virtual home buying, especially as a Builder or developer, you need to understand how it works and helps in the different stages of the home buying process. Let’s take a look.
1. Electronic Pre-Approvals and Loan Applications
Loan applications and pre-approvals require multiple rounds of document submission and a lot of back and forth if you’re taking the conventional paper route. As a real estate developer, you can get extra brownie points if you can help buyers speed up this process.
Electronic loan applications are a lot faster as one doesn’t need to submit documents physically. The borrower just needs to provide the lender (the bank, for example) permission to collect information directly about their employment, savings and other investment options.
Also, portals are encrypted so there are zero chances of data theft. You can partner up with reputed financial institutions to offer your buyers a safe and reliable online loan application experience.
2. Virtual Tours
The biggest advantage of virtual home buying over traditional methods is that buyers can explore properties from anywhere and at any time. There is no need for you to reschedule important tasks to accommodate a potential buyer.
Virtual tours present a detailed view of the site with accurate measurements and cover almost every detail. Buyers can get a good idea of how well lit and how big the rooms are and the overall vibe, without having to visit the site in person.
Since buyers are well aware of what your property looks and feels like, chances are, only the most interested ones will reach out. In other words, virtual tours improve the quality of your leads.
3. Digital Home Customization/Visualization
Every homebuyer wants their new home to be designed according to their particular preferences. To that end, they may want to change the color of the walls, slightly modify the floor plan or decorate in a way that reflects their taste.
As a real estate developer, you must enable your buyers to take a more active role in designing their dream homes. Virtual home buying platforms like Hyphen HomeSight allow users to customize the property including structural components, elevation, exterior colors, etc. as per their choices.
Since tailored customer experiences are highly sought after, features like these will give you a competitive advantage over other players in the industry.
4. Electronic Contract Signing
A home buying experience involves producing, reading and signing legal contracts. Electronic contracts are faster and use security features like timestamps and serial numbers to ensure reliability.
Are these contracts legally valid? Absolutely. In 2020, the Federal Government passed the ESIGN Act that recognizes e-contracts as legally binding. Many states also have laws validating e-contracts.
To offer an exceptional customer experience, use a home buying app that integrates homebuyer preferences into your sales meetings and ends in a signed contract. Hyphen HomeSight’s virtual home buying platform comes with built-in features that make contract signing easier.
Choosing the Right Tools to Facilitate Virtual Home Buying
Virtual home buying platforms are slowly gaining more acceptance, thanks to the convenience they offer.
If you’re considering one for your real estate business, make sure your application is secure, bug-free and user-friendly. One way is to hire reliable developers who can build a robust application that can handle sensitive data, with an intuitive UI that loads quickly.
Alternatively, opt for a highly sophisticated platform like Hyphen HomeSight that’s secure, fast and covers every need with respect to virtual home buying.
From offering virtual tours of properties to signing e-contracts — the virtual home buying experience is faster, convenient and reliable. By adopting a robust virtual home buying platform, you are guaranteed to have happier customers, more time on your hands and better-quality leads. Contact the Hyphen HomeSight team of experts today to learn how we can help you with all this and more.