How Is The New Digital Economy Affecting The Home Buying Process?

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By: Christel Silver Special to the Boca and Delray newspapers

Technology is changing the way we communicate, how we work, shop, and our lives in general. Real Estate is no different. Consumers are much more educated and have higher expectations. As a whole, we expect more transparent, accurate, and quicker transactions in every area of our life.

How is this changing the home buying process?

Technology has affected the home buying process in two major areas: The experience on the consumer side, and the benefits to the lending and closing procedures. On the consumer side, we have seen changes in how we search for homes, communicate with our realtor and lender and sign documents. We utilized digital signatures when making offers, completing forms with our realtor, and in some cases with our lenders, to get the mortgage secured. We search for homes via interactive websites that allow us to find a lot more information than was available in the past. Security has been optimized, and we are now able to benefit from the convenience and accuracy that these programs provide.

The benefits to the lending and closing procedures have been even greater. The ability to sign electronically has enabled faster closings, and dashboards have provided a way for realtors and lenders to streamline their processes. This makes it possible to have the same document available to several parties in the transaction at once, without a loss of integrity. We no longer have to wait for documents to be “overnighted” if our clients are on vacation or work remotely. And multiple requests for the same docs are no longer needed. Both sides have seen a benefit in transparency. Buyers are able to get information on schools, Plat maps, tax records, soil reports and much more with a click of the mouse. Currently, realtors and lenders use dashboards to track the progress of a transaction. They can see who needs to do what, when it needs to be done, and have the ability to share documents. As we move forward, look for this to be available to the homebuyer and seller as well.

Fanny Mae and Freddie Mac have been requesting that lenders use software that allows them to securely verify information on the buyers, both from their employers and the IRS. This provides a lot less hassle on the part of the buyer, and a lot less work on the part of the lender. Lost W2 statements and paystubs are no longer an issue and gathering information has gone from a three-week process to a three-hour process.

I recently attended a Certified Residential Specialist conference in Phoenix, Arizona where Bradley Inman, an Internet entrepreneur, gave us an outlook how real estate will be done in 10 years.  He explained how the buying process has been condensed due to the technology (e-signing – scanning – smart phones). Real estate agents and lenders who are not able to perform using the newest technology will be left behind.

Have you noticed that the younger generation feels that email is like snail mail? They use texting to be faster.  You can expect to see more availability of information and a shorter home buying process moving forward. Dashboards are allowing us to integrate all the services, show us exactly who is holding up the process, schedule showings and inspections, modify and upload documents, sign electronically, and verify information seamlessly. Although our national average is still 30-45 days to close a home loan, expect to see this reduced as we incorporate technology into every real estate transaction. The digital economy has made great strides and real estate has and will see many benefits as we move forward. Keep an eye out and start asking for the services and information from your realtors, lenders and other service providers.

About Christel Silver

Christel Silver is a full time Broker/Owner of Silver International Realty servicing the East Coast of South Florida. In 1985 she was licensed in Maryland and Washington DC as a Realtor and later as a Certified Residential Appraiser and Associate Broker and has been in Florida since 2001. The National Association of Realtor’s (NAR) President appointed her (2010-2014) as the President’s Liaison to Germany, where she grew up and worked at the Justice Department for 17 years prior to coming to this country. The Germany Real Estate Organization (IVD) has an agreement with the NAR and she is an International member of this organization. Christel is a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), and a certified speaker teaching CIPS classes. Having been President for the Florida Certified Residential Specialist (CRS) Chapter, she is now serving as a Regional Vice President helping Chapters to grow, currently for Virginia, Central Virginia and Maryland. Fifty percent of her business is in the International arena. For more information visit www.silverhouses.com.