Home Shoppers are Trending Toward Buying Sight-Unseen, Selling Virtually
Home buyers and sellers say they are more likely to make the purchase or sale of their biggest financial asset entirely online.
Digital tools widely adopted during the coronavirus pandemic are giving people the ability and the confidence to buy or sell a home in a tight real estate market where homes are selling at their fastest pace in two years. A new Zillow® survey finds consumer demand will likely keep those tools in place and lead to more online real estate transactions in the future.
Zillow's survey finds more than a third of Americans (36%) say they are more likely to try to buy a home entirely online during the coronavirus pandemic, and 30 percent say after the current outbreak ends, they would do the same.
Even more Americans appear to be getting comfortable with the idea of selling a home virtually. During the pandemic, 43 percent say they are more likely to try to sell a home entirely online. When the current outbreak ends, 33 percent anticipate they would still be more likely to try and sell a home entirely online.
A majority of people still want to tour a home in person before committing their down payment. However, when asked to choose between taking an in-person or a virtual tour after the current outbreak has ended, one out of three say they would choose the virtual or video tour -- a meaningful departure from traditional shopping behavior.
"The home shopping tradition of loading the family into the minivan and touring open houses all weekend may be over," said Zillow economist Jeff Tucker. "Now shoppers are realizing they can use virtual tours to either skip in-person shopping, or at least to winnow down their options and visit fewer homes in person, making it easier and less time-consuming to find their next home. That speed advantage can give buyers a leg up in today's fast-moving market."
In a survey of select Zillow Premier Agents, 64 percent report fewer in-person showings at least most of the time during the current coronavirus outbreak, and nearly a third (31%) anticipate that trend will continue after the outbreak is over.
Virtual and video tours are becoming the new standard. The creation of Zillow 3D Home virtual tours skyrocketed when stay-home orders went into effect, climbing more than 750 percent in one month and remaining at least three times as high in the months that followed. Of the surveyed Zillow Premier Agents, 86 percent said they started or continued to use virtual or video home tours during the coronavirus outbreak, and 72 percent said they are likely to continue providing those tours after the current outbreak has ended. A Zillow survey finds three out of four U.S. adults want the option to tour a home remotely through virtual or video technology if they were home shopping right now.
Home sellers also have high-tech options that allow them to sell almost entirely online. Homeowners in certain markets can request a cash offer with the click of a button from Zillow Offers. They can avoid the parade of strangers traipsing through their home during open houses or showings, and can opt for an all-digital closing.
Renters can search, find, apply for and lease a home digitally in a safer, end-to-end online transaction. Zillow Rental Manager is a one-stop rental transaction platform that handles tenant screening, lease signing and monthly payments online.
The Schwartz family went under contract to buy a home sight-unseen in the Nashville suburbs after COVID-19 prompted them to move their family out of New York City for more space.
"We didn't feel safe getting on a plane so having these digital tools on Zillow allowed us to narrow down our search and find the right home for us and our 8-year-old son," said Jarrod Schwartz, a sales manager. "After our real estate agent provided a video tour, we had the confidence to make an offer."
Nashville-based Zillow Premier Agent Erin Krueger said her team has sold 10 homes sight-unseen during three months of shelter-at-home orders, twice as many as in all of 2019.
"People are realizing they can make some very big purchases from afar," said Krueger, with the Erin Krueger Team at Compass. "Now we're equipped with the systems and processes to serve our clients virtually when they can't be there in person, and that's absolutely been accelerated by the pandemic. Our clients are very happy with their new homes."
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