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COVID-19: Technology supporting real estate

Social distancing has forced us to adapt the way we do things. Thankfully, the technological advances of recent years are benefitting real estate buyers and sellers.

What should the goal be in the current environment? To advance the selling process limiting direct contacts between participants. Here is our team’s advice for successfully doing business remotely.

Online listings

This is not new, but it’s still true: buyers look for properties online. They carefully review every listing and keep an eye out for new ones, notably thanks to DuProprio’s email alerts. These alerts notify buyers when a property matching their search criteria is put on the market.

The more detail the seller includes in the listing, the better the buyer will know whether the property is what they’re looking for. Photos play a critical role in this, and the HDR technology used by our photographers makes it possible to show the property with a high degree of realism.

3D virtual tours

Our favourite tool is the 3D virtual tour. While photos and the description give a good overview of the property, the 3D virtual tour allows the potential buyer to “walk” through the interior and see the room from every angle. It even offers functionalities like taking measurements in the rooms to see how furniture will fit. 

Communication tools

In addition to telephone calls and emails, video chats are very practical while we’re social distancing. There are many free apps for doing this available on cellphones, including Skype, WhatsApp, Zoom and FaceTime. Sellers could walk around the property with the potential buyer by video call before even considering holding an in-person visit.

Negotiations and legal documents

An interested buyer can make an offer and negotiate with the seller over the phone. The buyer and seller will be able to put the agreement on paper together, respecting public health instructions, such as disinfecting their hands and keeping a distance of 2 metres. They can also digitize the document and email it back and forth, using these steps:

  1. The buyer fills out the Offer to Purchase with the terms of the agreement, signs it and sends it to the seller.
  2. The seller receives the Offer to Purchase, checks that it is in line with the agreement reached over the phone, accepts and signs it, and then sends that version back to the buyer.
  3. The buyer signs the “Acknowledgement of Receipt” section and sends the signed version to the seller.

Both parties should keep this final document, which is proof of their agreement, and will send it to the notary who will handle the transaction. Instead of a physical (handwritten) signature, the buyer or seller may use a digital signature if they have one, in order to avoid having to print and digitize the Offer to Purchase.

When you think about it, the current technology lets us move ahead with plans to buy a property while also complying with the safety measures required by the authorities.