It has been a year and a half since the onset of the global pandemic, and as with the rest of the world, the real estate industry has undergone pivotal changes to provide immediate solutions for business continuity. The digital transformation of real estate is not new, but the pandemic has significantly accelerated this process, paving the way for property technology solutions.
We’re seeing an incredibly high rate of adoption for PropTech in areas like Vancouver, such as digital sales transaction software, enabling builders and agents to sell remotely in real time with cloud-based technology. Through necessity, they are reshaping and rethinking the way the real estate industry transacts business, which will prove to have significant long-term rewards.
Whether for high-rise condos, stacked or standard townhomes, or single-family homes, there is significant demand to give buyers the option to transact online. A recent ReMax report reveals that almost half of Canadians (46%) would prefer to work with real estate agents who use technology and virtual services in order to adhere to social distancing guidelines, in a post-COVID-19 landscape. Under current socio-economic conditions, developers in Vancouver who had not previously considered digital sales processing technology, are taking notice of innovative software. Moving forward, this will continue to be imperative for a builder’s success, as many buyers, and especially investors, show a preference for buying from an agent online.
The shift to a more digital landscape means presentation centres can no longer be the only point of interaction with purchasers. Vancouver builders and agents are quickly learning that there are various avenues for educating prospective buyers. Paper brochures have pivoted to digital portals, to give full access and visibility to sales assets.
One of the most significant changes in the industry today is not that of hardware or software but that of mindset and attitude. Customer behaviours and preferences are changing and those who have long been reluctant to buy into the digital transformation are now firmly on board. Prospective buyers are more comfortable than ever before, interacting with developers and/or agents online and signing agreements digitally.
During a recent SaleFish launch, 75 per cent of the buyers chose to have virtual appointments. With this increased demand, SaleFish has been behind the scenes ramping up new and improved software to meet the needs of the consumer today. For example, we’re just about to launch SaleFish 2 which will feature the most up-to-date web standards and introduces a new, fluid design system with an intuitive and familiar user experience. And still, real estate professionals can transact digital documents with e-signatures, ID scanning, and identity verification to complete a sales agreement in as little as four minutes.
Increased market demand for housing in Metro Vancouver has led to greater new construction activity. According to a mid-year report from Canada Mortgage and Housing Corp. (CMHC), the first six months of 2021 saw a 50% jump in housing starts. As this trend continues, especially given Vancouver’s ranking as the number one market to watch in this year’s ‘Emerging Trends in Real Estate’ report by PWC, real-time tech platforms ensure up-to-date visibility of all upcoming developments and help streamline the process of accessing important sales assets. This saves time and ensures buyers have all the necessary information required to make an educated purchase.
With today’s unprecedented volume of online real estate transactions comes the responsibility for developers to safely communicate and safeguard sensitive information on the web. Cybersecurity has become an important industry conversation over the past year, and the takeaway has been that many people don’t realize the significant risks in working with software service providers that don’t understand and have not taken actions to mitigate cyber security threats.
More than 28 million Canadians have been impacted by security incidents, many of them small and medium-sized businesses. We’re expecting an educational reform in the industry, with Vancouver builders and agents improving their knowledge for how they should treat data and manage devices that are at risk of being compromised. The SaleFish team continues to be a leader in this important conversation, and we’re excited to see more discussion on the topic.
Above all, a key takeaway is that the digitalization of real estate is here to stay. The last year and a half has taught us that change allows for innovative approaches to business and helps us expand our capabilities by putting customer experiences and expectations at the heart of everything we do. Moving forward, technology will be embedded in all aspects of real estate. The streamlined sales process will be an ongoing asset to the industry, and the proficiencies of selling virtually will continue to be vital for reaching remote buyers.