Tech transformation in real estate: Consumers are ready for it

If you told someone in the early '90s that they would soon be paying bills and checking their bank balance on their home computer, they would have laughed. But just a few years later, online banking arrived in Australia - becoming the single most popular way for everyday consumers to interact with banks.

Now, it’s the real estate industry at the same juncture - the moment where huge digital transformation is about to happen.

According to the Office of the Registrar General, NSW is aiming for all property transactions to be completed online by mid-2019. Given that only 10% of contracts were exchanged electronically in 2016, this prediction indicates that the real estate industry is experiencing a period of massive change.

And consumers are ready for it.

Today’s digitally-savvy property vendors and buyers expect speed and convenience when transacting. These people rely on technology for every other aspect of their lives, from paying bills while they commute home to ordering dinner on an app. Why should a property sale be any different? Why is real estate one of the last industries to hold on to paper-based transactions?

Real estate’s digital revolution

To be fair, the real estate industry has come a long way, digitally speaking. Once upon a time, keen property buyers would race to the corner store on a Saturday morning to get the weekend paper, which would be bursting with real estate listings. Today, the vast majority of those buyers (78%) don’t bother getting the paper – instead, they browse the online listings whenever it suits; jumping between photos, video fly-throughs and Google Earth images of the street.

At an open house, real estate agents have done away with clipboards, and upgraded to tablets for collecting prospective buyers’ details. The data they collect feeds back to their CRM, giving agents powerful insights into the people currently interested in the property market.

Reinventing settlement

But there still seems to be one last hurdle in the race to digitise the real estate industry. And that’s the settlement process – which is notoriously slow. Errors get made, documents get lost and every amendment adds days of delay; causing endless frustration for both vendors and buyers. No coincidence that it’s paper-based, too.

While some agents have already jumped on board with digital conveyancing - or e-conveyancing - many are still being held back by, paper-based practices for this last part of a property sale. Just because ‘that’s the way it has always been done’, it doesn’t mean it has to stay that way. Think of Uber or AirBnB, digital disruptors are changing things for the better across many different industries, and real estate shouldn’t be any different.

Electronic product innovations from REI Forms Live and Property Exchange Australia Limited (PEXA) are slowly but surely transforming the settlement process – digitising those last few processes that have stubbornly clung to paper for so long.

For example, REI Forms Live gives agents a fast, simple way to generate a range of forms and agreements – with new ones being added all the time. And with the integration of Docusign into REI Forms Live, agents have the ability to digitise customer engagements and agreements for faster turnaround, increased security and compliance, and a best-in-class client experience.

This new digital approach to settlements is faster, more cost effective and more accurate.

To find out more, contact your Real Estate Institute membership coordinator or visit