The real estate industry adapting to the idea of people buying a home online may be the last holdout to the growing e-commerce business world.
But according to Ben Smith, change might be slow – but it is coming.
With a credit card and click of a button, Smith said home buyers are beginning to experience and feel more comfortable with starting the home purchase process in the digital world, a process he admits developers and real estate agents have been hesitant to embrace.
“There was hesitancy in the car business as well. First, they said nobody will buy a vehicle without visiting the car lot and then people started doing it. When Tesla starting selling $100,000 cars online, people said it would never catch on and now (Tesla) is the most valuable automaker in the world,” Smith said.
Smith is president of Kinsman Marketing Partners, a firm that has already begun selling real estate for its clients since June.
He was offering his views about online home selling as the keynote speaker for the Okanagan chapter of the Urban Development Institute on Thursday, Oct. 29.
For home sellers, Smith said a digital sales pathway offers both advantages for more efficiently closing real estate deals and responding to price changes influenced by inventory demand.
“It is a different tempo to wrap your brain around. Now instead of setting up meetings, you can send an email if someone is interested in a particular product,” he said.
When a credit card deposit is made online, it sends an immediate message of the buyer’s motivation to move forward, a decision the buyer can make sitting on their couch at home rather than going through the whole presentation centre sales process.
For buyers, it is extending the convenience of e-commerce they have become accustomed to in most other aspects of their lives, he says.
“Every other industry has done this transformation. It is inevitable…not if but when.”
Smith said he foresees in the immediate future where people will find their comfort zones in one of three options: completing the entire transaction online, following some online aspects with some in-person sales interaction or the traditional walking through the entire process with a realtor or salesperson.
But he added the revolution caused by the iPhone, placing a computer in everyone’s pocket, is opening up a whole bunch of new sales and marketing opportunities yet to be fully realized, noting hardware store sales, sporting goods and vehicle and parts have shown significant online sales patterns.
“We are still in the early stages of this,” he said, comparing it to the evolution from typewriter to word processor and how the impact of that continues to unfold in new uses and lifestyle changes.