The World is Changing: is Real Estate Ready?
It’s safe to say 2020 has been one “hold my beer” moment after another. And the real estate finance industry, says States Title, San Francisco, had better be prepared for more changes—or risk obsolescence.
The company’s third-party survey of real estate professionals shows a transformation underway that puts a spotlight on digital readiness. According to the survey, 59% of real estate professionals say that digital readiness is a critical factor in order for the industry to survive in 2021.
“We are witnessing an unprecedented overnight shift in the structural foundation of the real estate market,” said States Title CEO Max Simkoff. “The real estate industry has gotten a long overdue wake-up call and has been forced to push the fast forward button on innovation. Ready or not–the time has come to adopt and embrace technological change. It’s the ultimate stress test for the entire industry.”
The survey, conducted by market-research consultancy Researchscape on behalf of States Title from August 12-26 with 256 respondents who work as lenders, real estate agents or title agent,s details key findings that are full of unexpected insights around buying/selling homes, diversity initiatives, resiliency and digital readiness. Key findings:
—Real Estate Industry at Risk – 39% of respondents said someone in their company has tested positive for COVID-19; and 9% of respondents said they themselves have tested positive. Seventy-nine percent of real estate professionals said “wearing a mask is a necessity” and they won’t do in-person business without one, 19% said that the choice depends on the business situation, while only 2% said that they never wear a mask. Additionally, 36% of real estate stakeholders felt like their personal safety has been compromised in order to conduct a real estate business transaction during the pandemic.
—The Lonely Hearts Club in Real Estate – 33% said that loneliness due to lack of interaction with coworkers has impacted business success and productivity during the pandemic. “Real estate professionals tend to be sociable, outgoing people who like to build relationships in-person and COVID-19 has prompted them to change the way they communicate and do business,” the survey said. Forty-three percent of respondents said that the pandemic has “somewhat” or “significantly” increased their stress levels; and 33% said that loneliness due to lack of interaction with coworkers has impacted business success and productivity during the pandemic. Thirty-four percent said their work relationships with other stakeholders have been strained during COVID-19 due to pandemic-related productivity issues, slow downs and process inefficiencies; however, 32% said that their work relationships have improved because “we are all in the same boat.”
—An Industry Call to Arms for More Diversity – More companies are stepping up their efforts for diversity & inclusion: 40% are hiring for more diverse leadership positions. Forty percent of respondents said that their company leadership has been more empathetic than ever before; more companies are offering new remote learning opportunities (38%), telehealth benefits (21%), and pay raises (14%). Many respondents said that their companies are working on new digital services (49%), dedicated customer support options (44%), and more contactless customer interactions (46%). And some companies are stepping up their efforts for diversity & inclusion: 40% are hiring for more diverse leadership positions, 38% have launched a D&I program, and 40% have donated money to nonprofit organizations with missions focused on diversity & inclusion.
—Recognizing Resilience – 79% of real estate professionals are committed to their careers for the long haul and are more resilient than ever. Twenty-one percent said COVID-19 has prompted their businesses to embrace innovation that was long overdue; 23% said the pandemic has caused a positive environmental impact, due to less paper and more digital processes; and 17% said their workforce is more resilient than ever before.
—Go Digital or Die – 59% of real estate professionals say digital readiness is a critical factor in order for the industry to survive in 2021. Looking ahead to 2021, 34% are most excited to see how working from home can become even better; 24% are most excited about returning back to the physical office, and 22% are most excited to host and attend in-person real estate events.