Of the many issues the COVID-19 pandemic brought to light, the usefulness of technology in the homebuying process is one of significance for mortgage professionals. While industry leaders knew it before, a global crisis forced many to accelerate the adaptation of online real estate transactions. A prop tech company, Spruce, conducted a study to examine homebuyers' feelings when it comes to using tech for major actions such as buying a house. The survey also derived from their data homebuyers' top priorities and the ways they are using technology to achieve the American Dream.
The study revealed an increased trust in technology among respondents for financial transactions as well as interest in relatively untapped opportunities for alternate real estate investments, Spruce reports.
Spruce's CEO recognized that automation and electronic deals are evolving as a practice and improving. He says the main goal, at least for his company, is to improve the experience for the homebuyer.
"There are many aspects of the real estate and homebuying process that need to be improved," said Patrick Burns, CEO and co-founder of Spruce. "But the most fundamental issues–affordability of closing costs, process transparency, and time–are perhaps unsurprisingly the pain points most felt by Americans today, and thus remain our key areas of focus as we continue to build our client-focused offerings."
Spruce's research revealed the following characteristics about today's homebuyer:
- They desire affordability, transparency, and saving time above all else—when ranking the most important aspects of the home buying process, respondents chose overall affordability (64% reported most important), transparency (41% voted second most important), and the time it takes to close (23% as third most important) as their top three–over customer service and the ability to sign electronically.
- Many trust technology more than they did before the pandemic, but even more do not—overall, respondents trust technology about the same as they did pre COVID (59%). About a third of respondents (31%) reported increased trust in technology to make major financial transactions.
- A good number of respondents cited interest in real estate investment opportunities—when asked about their interest in forms of real estate investment other than traditional home buying, nearly half (49%) of respondents reported not having considered alternate forms of real estate investment, however, more than 30% cited interest in rental properties, with 25% mentioning interest in renting-to-own.