TRAVERSE CITY — Imagine buying a home or other piece of real estate without ever having set foot on the property.
Such transactions were almost unheard of a few years ago. But the way of doing business in the real estate sector is changing rapidly. With buyers viewing properties through virtual tours, using FaceTime with their real estate agents and even drone inspections, consumers can do their real estate homework from literally half a world away.
“I sold six houses last year that the buyer never stepped foot in,” said Holly Hack, broker/owner of Exit Realty based in Traverse City.
Digital technology and the internet continue to generate rapid change in the real estate sector. An industry where professionals once held most of the market information, potential buyers traipsed across communities to view properties and attended all sorts of meetings to close a deal has been forever changed by the digital age.
These days most any real estate listing is readily available online, properties can be viewed from a home, office or smart phone and documents are easily transferred and signed digitally. Hack said while this region doesn’t set the technology trends like the markets on the East and West coasts and places like Florida, it doesn’t take long for northern Michigan to catch up.
Hack embraces the changes. Her office went paperless five years ago, reducing costs and paper waste, and her business card is available in a phone app.
She typically communicates with customers via texting, as emails and phone calls are on the wane. She also notes other environmental benefits from technology, including the elimination of countless car trips by buyers, sellers and agents to show and view properties. It also expedites the process of a property deal, which can be handled in days and even hours instead of weeks or longer.
“Everyone wants things immediately — we expect things to happen quicker today,” she said. “We’re trying to make the customer’s experience better.”