Qualia Survey Reports ‘Positive Outlook’ for Real Estate with Shift Toward Digital

Qualia, San Francisco, said a new survey reports a shift in perception on the permanence of remote work and a nearly 40% surge in remote online notarization usage from April to May.

The longitudinal survey, conducted between March and May, examined the effects of COVID-19 on real estate businesses. Survey respondents identified a positive outlook for real estate as states begin to open up, with 70% anticipating increased or the same volume over the next 30 days as compared to the previous month. Qualia said this represents a 414% increase from April to May of businesses expecting their order volume to increase in the next 30 days.

With social distancing orders still necessitating remote work, the survey found that 65% of respondents are working remotely, with business owners considering continuing remote work options for employees in the future. For those that are or will return to the office, businesses will continue to social distance by staggering attendance in the office, wearing masks, disinfecting rooms after every closing, allowing entry by appointment only, limiting the number of customers allowed inside, taking temperatures and continuing to have a percentage of the workforce working from home.

Nate Baker

“This is an important time for real estate as the industry undergoes rapid change and a monumental shift in mindset,” said Nate Baker, co-founder and CEO of Qualia. “The real estate industry looks very different than it did just three months ago, and it will likely look very different in the next three months as we see remote work and remote online notarizations transition from temporary stopgap solutions to permanent options.”

The survey noted to support contactless business operations, respondents report that they are conducting more e-recordings, remote online notarizations and hybrid remote ink-signed notarizations. Nearly 33% of respondents report they used RON in the month of May, up from 24% the month prior. However, despite increased RON usage, the percentage of real estate professionals not using RON and having no plans to adopt a RON solution increased from 14% in April to 23% in May. While many states have enacted temporary or emergency remote online notarization guidance as a result of the pandemic, less than half of states have passed permanent remote online notarization laws.

“These results suggest that real estate professionals are settling into new routines for conducting business, whether they’re contactless in-person, digital or hybrid options,” Baker said. “Notably, a large majority of respondents remain interested in remote online notarization options, indicating that RON is likely to stay post pandemic and become a consumer expectation.”

The survey was administered to 155 real estate professionals in March/April, and to 180 respondents in May for a total of 335 responses. Survey participants include title & escrow companies, underwriters, real estate agents, law firms and mortgage lenders. For more information on the survey, visit https://blog.qualia.com/remote-survey.