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Real Estate and Technology
Is your real estate agent old school, new school, or a hybrid of both? When is technology a benefit and when is it a hindrance to buying or selling a home?
Over 10 years ago the US government enacted the E-sign law which provides the legality of electronic signatures with the same force as "paper and ink". This makes it easier for parties involved in a transaction to sign their documents from almost anywhere using the web browser or smartphone application. No longer do you need to run to your Realtor®'s office or find a fax machine at the local Kinkos.
I'm truly amazed that I still run into many agents that don't take advantage of this technology with clients. While we, Realtors®, all have clients that might not be adept to newer technology, being in an area where many people work in Silicon Valley most of my clients have a preference toward the expediency that technology can provide.
For many transactions you can go through the whole process except for a few documents at the final closing without ever having to put pen to paper for your signature. Some lenders even do much of their documents via electronic signature at the title company.
There are somethings however that technology doesn't provide. Before entering into a purchase contract buyers first need to select the property you are purchasing. While using online searches can provide a good starting point they rarely can provide a accurate representation of the feel a home offers. This is especially true in areas like Santa Cruz County where we offer so many unique, custom, and diverse homes.
As a local agent I spend a lot of my time previewing homes for clients. I go to as many listings as possible during our office tours and the weekly broker's tour. If I haven't been to one a buyer is interested in I will often go see it to get a perspective to avoid wasting my client's time showing them with what might be a different reality than what can be drawn from the online information.
Besides showing property there is another time when technology doesn't serve well. Once a home is under contract there are often inspections required and in many cases it can be advantageous for a buyer to be there with the inspector. Again, a case where seeing and being able to talk to the person doing the inspection can be provide more than what can be read from a report.
My opinion and the way I work at conducting myself is to bring technology in where it helps the process, but doesn't detract from the results for my buyers and sellers. Where we can can save time let's do it, but where physical interaction is beneficial let's make sure that gets done as well.