The way we find and purchase homes has changed a lot throughout the years. Used to be, agents were the only ones in the know about properties and homes; we kept our listings on index cards and waited for buyers to stop by in hopes of finding a home for sale in our area. But the times have changed, thanks to the leaps and bounds technology has made over the years. Nowadays, buyers are the experts who find their own homes and even schedule their own showings.
Here’s how new technology has completely revolutionized the home search… and what has stayed the same.
The Way We Find Properties
Probably what’s undergone the most massive overhaul is the home-search process itself. Long gone are the days of flyers, print ads, and index cards. Now, everything is online. Now, you can use an advanced search tool to find homes that fit only your specific criteria for specific features, locations, sizes, styles, prices, amenities, and more. You can even set email alerts for when homes matching your specific criteria hit the market, or search homes from your phone, on the go. It saves you time and narrows down your searches much faster—which is good because, thanks to the Internet, you’re also able to search through a much larger database of properties.
It’s safe to say that buyers are now completely in the drivers’ seats of their home searches.
The Way We View Properties
The old print ads might have had a few photos to give you a general idea of the home, but it was the tour that made or broke the deal. You’d tell your agent what you wanted, we’d find 10 or 20 homes that fit your description, and together we’d go and look. Now, you can determine whether you’re going to like a home without ever even leaving your chair! High-quality high-definition photos, video tours, 3D virtual tours… you can be inside the house from across the world. Buyers have even bought homes without even setting foot inside—though most still prefer to take a look in person.
The Way We Learn About the Area
You find a home you like, seems like the neighborhood is nice… but what about the area? In the past, you might have walked around the neighborhood, talked to some of the residents, asked your agent. Today? You’ll likely be on the Internet, looking up safety ratings, mapping your commute to work, checking out the nearby amenities. You’ll Google schools, taxes, transportation options. You might even use Google Street View to get a firsthand feel for the neighborhood and what’s around it.
The Way We Find Mortgages
Once again… it’s all online these days. Thanks to the Know Before You Owe mortgage disclosure rule, you can easily compare mortgage benefits and fees using online comparison tools to ensure you’re getting the best possible deal. The process has become completely streamlined—no more faxing or mailing. Everything is instantaneous and fast. Thanks to home mortgage calculators, you can even figure out how much home you can afford without ever talking to a lender or agent.
The result of all this accessible knowledge and tools? Buyers are actually more in the know because you’re doing more work for themselves, rather than letting a broker or lender talk you into something you don’t completely understand.
The Way We Find & Communicate with Our Agents
In the past, referrals were king for agents. We got our buyers and sellers by word of mouth; past clients would send their friends, family members, and coworkers our way. Now though, buyers search agents online, and with access to online reviews, ratings, and past client testimonials, you can make decisions about working with an agent without any recommendations or referrals. And when you decide you want to work with an agent, you can just fill out a form or send an email to get started. Once you’re working with an agent, you might even keep in communication through text message!
One Thing Has Stayed the Same Throughout the Changing Times: Agents are Still Relevant
Most searches might start online, but 87% of buyers still purchase their home using an agent. You might not need as much help finding properties, but you do still rely on the expert advice of an experienced local Realtor.