HousingWire recently spoke with Propertybase CEO Vance Loiselle about real estate tech and how the past year has accelerated the need for digital collaboration tools across the entire customer journey.
HousingWire: What role has the increase in technology played for both businesses and consumers in the real estate space?
Vance Loiselle: In the 20th century, the primary technology innovations in real estate were the telephone and the MLS. This century has seen a rapid shift to a digital-first economy from the internet to portals to email marketing to smartphones to social media. The end result has created a far more educated and informed consumer while also breaking down what we consider traditional B2B and B2C channels.
Quite frankly, you may consider the new trend as B2P – business to people. Consumers today expect access to instant information and don’t want to spend lots of time making calls to coordinate showings or filling out paperwork to get a mortgage. Technology has given consumers the power of choice and expedited the entire real estate purchasing process.
Successful agents, brokerages and loan officers of the future are going to rely significantly on technology to find, nurture and engage with buyers and sellers while also playing an expanding role as personal advisors in all things related to mortgage, insurance, moving, renovating and new home transitioning.
HW: How has the financial industry’s response to COVID accelerated the need for digital tools?
VL: The financial industry’s response has been swift and impactful, by lowering interest rates and providing fiscal stimulus – for the benefit of consumers and loan originators, of course. Home sales and refinancing have seen large year-over-year increases in an environment where people have not been congregating face-to-face. This has heightened the need for digital tools for marketing, viewing, financing and closing on home purchases.
But we also must acknowledge that the core definition of any stimulus is to implement something that causes an immediate, short-term response. This response has an end-life and those looking towards the future sense a renewed focus on more quality lead generation as the refinance boom draws to a close.
People already want to be able to browse the rich details of a home and neighborhood on their own and then be able to apply for that home online without filling out tons of paperwork or going through antiquated processes. The past year has exposed a need for richer collaboration tools and better data that bring consumers, agents and loan officers together in one system to minimize work and increase transparency for everyone involved.
HW: What data, research and trends do you see that support the vision of collaboration across the entire industry?
VL: A recent study by Forrester found that post-COVID remote work will be at 300% of prior levels. This will result in a major shift in how people use their homes and where they want to live.
The “Zoomification” of the COVID world has also exposed hundreds of millions of people to collaboration technology, which was previously only used by a specific segment of enterprise workers. Our focus at Propertybase is to make collaboration between consumers, agents and loan officers as easy as shopping from third-party sellers on Amazon.
HW: What steps in the real estate transaction could benefit from further digitalization?
VL: So many areas could benefit by embracing digitalization. The loan pre-qualification step is an area that almost all parties need for a successful outcome (consumers, real estate agents, loan officers, insurance agents). The transaction management process requires precise compliance steps, documents and electronic signatures across many parties, all of which can be digitized – at Propertybase we’re actually already enabling this with our Propertybase Back Office software.
The post-close nurturing process is woefully lacking and can be digitized. How do I sign my kids up for school? How do I find a doctor? Who are the best contractors? All of which can be digitized and are often repeatedly shared by agents but are currently so fragmented.
HW: How will Propertybase’s acquisition of Unify help accelerate the use of digital tools across the entire customer journey?
VL: Our mission at Propertybase is to empower real estate and lending professionals to grow their businesses through collaborative technology.
Customers in the Propertybase family will get access to a myriad of new digital tools as part of the acquisition, including access to our nationwide pool of buyer and seller prospects, AI-powered lead scoring engine, credit-bureau pre-qualification, text concierge, and post-close credit inquiry monitoring.
The Propertybase family of brands will create a community for our clients to transcend ancillary services – and we’re really just getting started.