By Darren Tackett
The world of house hunters has become increasingly digital. In 2021, 97% of buyers looked online for their next home, and 51% purchased their home online. In North Phoenix, and in the homebuying community at large, handling transactions digitally (where a potential buyer is not physically present) has become more common than traditional in-person transactions. With so many moving here from out-of-state (Seattle accounting for 15.6% and Los Angeles topping the charts at 30.4%) combined with slim inventory, it becomes impractical to be here on the ground waiting for the right home to come on the market.
Real estate agents now have a common practice for working with out-of-state buyers. When a new listing hits the market, it is shared with prospective buyers via text and/or email. If a buyer is interested, a video walkthrough is scheduled with the listing agent. A video walkthrough is preferred in lieu of FaceTime or Zoom because this allows buyers to watch it as many times as they want, and they don’t necessarily have to be available in real-time. Assuming a buyer likes what they see, an offer is submitted utilizing digital signatures. Upon acceptance of the offer, inspections are scheduled in coordination with a buyer’s schedule, which allows them to fly or drive in to see the property. Many buyers choose not to be present and will Zoom or FaceTime with home inspectors to review the results. After the inspection period is complete, near the close of escrow, the buyers have an option to complete a final walkthrough of the property. It is not uncommon for them to waive a final walkthrough and to see the home the first time when they finally take possession.
The first time I completed a transaction digitally was well before the invention of FaceTime and smartphones. I was on pins and needles knowing I convinced the buyers the home was nice and met their needs. Now, with all the tools at our disposal, I feel almost no pressure when selling homes this way and, in fact, it can even be a smoother process overall when executed properly.
There are potential downsides when it comes to virtual transactions. Some clients feel there is no substitute for seeing a property in person. Driving through the neighborhood and seeing how other neighbors keep their homes, as well as the topography, all are much easier to understand when physically being there. It is also becoming more common for listing agents to exclude virtual showings when they have multiple offers because the virtual offers tend to have a higher cancellation rate.
However, there are many benefits for buyers and sellers with the added flexibility that digital homebuying provides. If you are on deployment, moving across the country or unable to meet in person, the tools and technology available to preview, inspect, sign, and buy afford you the opportunity to buy or sell your home with relative ease.
Darren Tackett is the founder of the RE/MAX Fine Properties Tackett Team. He has been involved in real estate in the Northeast Valley for more than 18 years. Darren has extensive experience in luxury homes, golf communities, land and lot sales, land development, investment properties and distressed properties.