Online Real Estate Selling: 'Building Trust' with Home Buyers in the Age of Social Distancing

Ketan Sabnis, CEO & Co-Founder, Sell.DoKetan has hands on experience in data-driven marketing, lead generation, and B2B software and is instrumental in the continual development of Sell.Do’s innovative features and product architecture.

Purchasing a home has always been considered the safest investment one can make. It brings about a sense of security associated with tangible assets as it satisfies cultural, psychological, and physiological needs. Moreover, real estate investments fall under a rare category where asset value inevitably grows with time. Fast-forward to the age of COVID-19 and social distancing, home buying now remains the best investment option. The stock market remains flaky at best and the gurus of finance expect a grim outlook for foreseeable months to come. In all this chaos, developers have to ask themselves, ‘how can we encourage property investments in the era of social distancing?’

As the lockdown is unwinding slowly, we understand that real estate businesses need to adapt quickly to challenges emanating from our current context. The best option to help circumvent these and future challenges is with a platform for online real estate selling. Let us look at the opportunities that technology brings into the proverbial spotlight in this unusual phase for the real estate industry.

Building trust with technology
We know that technology enables businesses to bridge gaps with prospective buyers. However, this is not the whole story. If you notice what the best in the business are saying, a common denominator within all their stories is ‘trust-building’ with the customer. One has to realize that in a world where site visits were the norm, building trust was easier as homebuyers could experience the ‘look and feel’ of the property in person and have face-to-face interactions with salespersons. Nevertheless, how can developers build trust when the homebuyer is hesitant to make site visits in person?

The answer lies in using technology to build trust with homebuyers, only this time from the safety of their homes. ‘Trust-building’ lies in the ability of real estate developers enabling prompt communication, transparency and understanding customer preferences at every stage of the purchase cycle, regardless of the type of project on sale.
Here is how realty businesses can build trust in the age of social distancing:

Immersive Technology:
When applied effectively, 3D walkthroughs, AR and VR can easily offer experiences similar to the physical ‘look and feel’ of a property to facilitate decision-making. Immersive technology helps transport homebuyers to properties from the comfort of their homes.

Homebuyers can make virtual site visits as and when they choose and there is no limit to the number of visits. In addition, for those who are not comfortable navigating virtual sites by themselves, salespersons can conduct guided site visits.

In all this chaos, developers have to ask themselves, ‘how can we encourage property investments in the era of social distancing?’

Marketing Automation:
Prospective homebuyers use multiple channels for communication. Realty businesses can set up automation flows so that zero leads are lost in the process. They can share property information like brochures, promotional activities and home loan schemes using the automation engine across various channels like email, SMS, WhatsApp, Google, Facebook and LinkedIn.

Customer Insights:
Online real estate technology collates information from multiple sources. Analysis of customer behavior provides real-time business intelligence to businesses to help identify customer interest and their expectations from developers.

Custom Property Investment Cycles:
Luxury properties garner more scrutiny from customers while affordable homes demand less. The online real estate platform can be used to create multiple customer cycles for multiple projects. Salespersons can share the right communication with the right client based on where a customer is at on the journey.

Integrating Home Loan Platforms:
Integrating loans and banking platforms with online real estate selling can act as a key influencing factor in building trust. Customers can, from the platform itself, know if one is eligible for a loan and if yes, then apply for it.

Online Real Estate Sales is a Journey:
It is not a matter of perspective if the effect is universal. Technology is a clear winner as it helps build trust with customers across all touchpoints. And for the real estate sector, positive trust helps convert prospects into homebuyers. In essence, online real estate selling is about leveraging the right technology across the value chain to build trust with the customer by making the project available for online access. This includes their ability to make booking, payments and document sharing. Nevertheless, there is no effective alternative to replacing a physical site visit.

So, What will Online Real Estate Investments look like Post-Lockdown?
Experiencing the ‘look and feel’ of any, property is a necessity and until restrictions are in place and prospective homebuyers feel comfortable enough to make site visits, a fully online route is the best way to build trust. Post lockdown, property investment may require a hybrid cycle where touchpoints will be both, digital and physical. Way, an integrated solution can be used for either a fully online process or a hybrid cycle. To this end, a transition to an online real estate platform is a necessity for building trust with prospective homebuyers.