One year ago, much of our world changed. It wasn’t just COVID that set the ball in motion, though — how people buy real estate has been evolving for some time. But things came to a head in 2020, according to this data from Redfin:

Nearly two thirds (63%) of people who bought a home last year made an offer on a property that they hadn’t seen in person, the highest share since at least 2015, according to a Redfin-commissioned survey in November and December of more than 1,900 homebuyers across 32 major markets. That’s up from 32% a year earlier, and 45% in July, which was previously the high point.”

So, pandemic aside, what’s driving this shift?

Buyers from Everywhere

People are relocating, perhaps more than ever. More data from Redfin: “27.8% of Redfin.com users were looking to relocate, an all-time high and up 2.3 percentage points from 25.5% in 2019.” That means for practical reasons, often the buyers can’t see the property in-person. It’s also worth mentioning that, rather than moving to be closer to a job, this surge may also be driven by people who no longer have to be close to their job, due to the rise of remote work. For example – a person may have their dream job, but not be required to be in-office anymore. So, they can keep the job, but are no longer tethered to that community. Suddenly, the range of listings they can browse becomes much wider.

A Historically Hot Market

Needless to say, the market is booming. “Between September 2019 and September 2020, homeowners accumulated a collective $1 trillion in additional home equity. The exploding demand of the past year, in conjunction with a historically low supply of housing, has led buyers to desperately bid up the prices of available properties, sending home prices soaring,” Vox explains. Because of increased demand, buyers need to move quickly and boldly to move the deal. And yes — that often means agreeing to a purchase before ever stepping foot on property.

Supercharged Online Listings

Once upon a time, we flipped through magazines to browse for homes. Then, online listings came along. Even then, there were typically scant details, maybe a small paragraph of text, and some pictures to browse through. Now, there are virtual tours, rendered images of properties not built yet, 3D floor plans (“Monthly viewings of 3D walk-throughs have also soared by a staggering 563% since last February”), and more. INSEARCH Interactive empowers builders to give their buyers an even more dynamic home buying experience. While there’s no substitute for walking through a property to discover if it’s the right one, the gap between an in-person and virtual experience is growing a bit smaller each year with the advancement of new technology, and buyers are becoming increasingly comfortable taking the leap.

Is your listing strong enough to attract people willing to make an offer sight unseen? In this new world, don’t you need to ask the question: “How can we better service buyers in this environment?” INSEARCH Interactive is ready for this exact moment in time. Our software will help make your buyers feel like they’re shopping online, with all the control that they’d find on Amazon.com. Learn more here.