Identified in research on digital acceleration in real estate & home, these five trends offer inspiration for transforming services and operations across verticals in an increasingly contactless world

Among the many industries rife with disruption in 2020, real estate & home are no exception. The space is undergoing an acceleration of digital capabilities to assist buyers, sellers and real estate services alike as they look to accommodate people on the move during the pandemic—in fact, a Zillow survey reports that 36% of surveyed Americans state being more likely to purchase a home completely online during the pandemic, with 43% more likely to sell completely online.

A significant percentage of Americans is rethinking living situations, either temporarily or for the long term, which has resulted in an unprecedented need for remote, contactless or otherwise virtual real estate-related transactions like viewings, mortgaging, or inspections—furthering the already surging preferences of younger demographics like Gen Z and Millennials for digital end-to-end customer journeys. In this article, we present five trends in the digitization of home buying, selling and servicing to inspire organizations across industries with ways to transform their own processes and customer assistance in an increasingly contactless world. 

Empowered Touring Home buying, selling and financing platforms are leveraging emerging technologies to immerse browsers in the space of a potential home, boosting shopper confidence during the selection process as well as empowering consumers to experience locations safely, on their own terms. And research from just before the pandemic broke out in the U.S. reports that a whopping 80% of property buyers and sellers would change to work with an agent providing immersive 3D property touring. But even lower-tech remote options are available—take CBH Homes, a property-building platform simplifying the house-hunting process with self-touring and remote buying options. Potential buyers can schedule a self-tour and receive a text with a code to unlock the property's door, tour, then buy from anywhere.

Painless Purchasing — Home buying and selling organizations are streamlining the end-to-end homebuying process by using innovative interfaces, AI technologies, or simply an expert intermediary on behalf of the purchaser, to ensure buyers are able to complete a property-related transaction. Atmos, for instance, connects home buyers to builders by centralizing all aspects of the building process in one platform—even offering a concierge service to help communicate with experts as needed throughout. 

Democratized Support Startup financing platforms are making home buying more accessible by allowing alternative forms of funding like crowdsourcing or offering personalized real estate financing services to help customers achieve their long-term goals. Rhove is an innovative financial services concept aiming to turn all renters into owners, providing them with a financial stake in their building of residence. Aiming to help mitigate the wealth gap due to systemic housing inequality, Rhove gives members a small share in their rental, and for each year that they live in the same building, they receive a greater ROI. Renters also have the chance to earn 8% of their rent back to use toward closing costs on a down payment. 

Virtual Trial & Customization — With lockdowns across the globe driving many people into their homes for days on end, DIY and other home projects witness a surge in interest. Accordingly, retailers of home goods and electronics are assisting customers virtually trialling and weighing their product and design options to determine the best product for their needs or preferences—while providing digital tools to enable customization along the way. SONY, for one, is tapping into AR tech to help consumers in choosing the best screen to fit their space with the Envision TV app, which lets users virtually mount a television on their own walls to help them decide which model is right—a smart move from the electronics co considering the plunging tech hardware sales during Covid-19.

Fun House In an increasingly virtual and remote world, industries and services not traditionally on the digital circuit are finding ways to connect with and serve customers using tech-based solutions like live-streaming and mixed reality. In the home sector, this looks like finding new ways to cultivate consumer communities in entertaining formats as well as providing educational content to pique interest and encourage brand awareness of future projects. IKEA teamed up with lab Space10 on a series of experiments that explore potential applications of the latest visualization technologies to find solutions to home design challenges—like using a virtual inflatable elephant to measure the height of your hallway's ceilings.

For the full list of the digital home buying, selling and servicing trends PSFK analysts identified, learn more about accessing the full research paper here