It’s impossible to know where the real estate industry is headed, but this much we know is true: change is coming. In fact, we’re squarely in the middle of one of the most catalytic and transformative points in this industry’s history. The question is, where do we go from here?
3 Virtual Trends in Real Estate
Real estate is, by its very nature, a physical and face-to-face industry. Whether it’s a residential property or commercial office space, every piece of real estate can be seen with the physical eye and traversed with your two feet. So while this is one industry that can never be totally virtualized, there’s certainly been a lot of innovation and reimagining of the industry over the past couple of years. Here are some of the noteworthy trends:
1. Virtual Showings and Tours
Virtual showings used to be the redheaded stepchild of the industry. Brokers, agents, buyers, and sellers all disliked them (when compared to the real thing). But with changing circumstances comes a willingness to embrace new trends. And as the technology improves, it’s becoming a more practical option than ever before.
“A decade ago, virtual tours were largely wobbly, with grainy, uneven imagery. Now they’re glossy and polished — often as well done as a professional television or streaming production,” insider Tom Acitecelli writes. “Ten years ago these tours threatened to cut agents out of the home-buying process, but now it’s the real estate industry that’s embracing them.”
While it’s unlikely that virtual showings will replace in-person tours any time soon, look for the former to play a more important role in the years ahead. If nothing else, it offers increased flexibility for buyers and sellers alike.
2. Leasing and Property Management
If you speak with experts in commercial property management, you’ll discover some significant changes and noticeable growth patterns in this niche. More specifically, we’re seeing an increased emphasis on establishing a digital tenant experience (DTE).
“As the name implies, DTE emphasizes that the tenant experience should be prioritized as an amenity that they will value and continue to buy into,” Crown Commercial Property Management notes. “What can this look like? Reimagining the in-person tenant experience can be a paradigm shift for property managers looking to retain their clients and grow business through COVID-19 and after.”
Virtual showings and tours are a major component of DTE, as are mobile app experiences and streamlined digital processes that allow for seamless rent collection and safe maintenance.
DTE is becoming more commonplace in all areas of the real estate industry, but is particularly common in the commercial office space niche where everything happens at a much larger scale.
3. Virtual Staging
Home staging has been a staple of the real estate industry for many years, but the modern version looks a little different than it did in previous decades. Though physical staging still has its place, we’re seeing a shift to virtual staging in 2021.
Virtual staging, which allows for greater flexibility and customization at a much lower price point, is particularly conducive to virtual showings and online listings. It’s not about tricking the buyer – it’s about giving them ideas and inspiration. When a property is virtually staged, buyers can see how a space may be used to its fullest potential.
Virtual staging was once a niche aspect of the industry. Today, it’s a thriving trend and commonly embraced practice.
“People had heard of virtual staging but the quarantine gave people a new reason to try virtual staging,” says Young J. Kim, CEO of Bella Staging. “We’re getting three times the orders we were getting before COVID.”
Aside from obvious factors increasing demand for virtual staging, the improvement in technology has made it a more practical option. With advanced features like shadows, reflections, and proprietary 3-D modeling, it’s possible to achieve flawless results.
Embracing the Digital Age
The virtualization of the real estate industry has certainly been accelerated over the past year, but many of the trends that are emerging will continue to play a significant role in this space well after this era of social distancing passes. And though physical showings, staging, listings, and processes will never be completely replaced, any professional or business that wants to remain competitive in this space over the next couple of decades will be forced to evolve and adapt.