People across almost every industry have had to get used to working remotely in the recent past, and this is certainly true of those who make a living via real estate.
From agents and brokers to marketers and investors, the era of visiting the office and having face-to-face meetings with customers and clients is over, and a brave new world awaits.
So how has remote working culture and tech had an impact on the real estate industry, and what lasting changes have been brought about as a result?
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One of the first things that the rise of remote working as necessitated by the pandemic brought into focus was that real estate professionals could no longer ignore the advantages of data centralization and unification.
It used to be all too easy to fall into bad habits, and end up with mission-critical information dotted around the place, whether stored on personal devices, uploaded to a non-standard cloud service, or kept on a memory stick.
Aside from the inconvenience of this, the security ramifications were also dire. With remote work making employees more reliant on quick, consistent access to files, a unified approach to storage became crucial to ensure productivity and fuel collaboration.
Web-based property marketing platforms have been around for years now, but the global pandemic meant that they really showed their worth, allowing realtors to better cope with the changes and restrictions on their normal activities and also overcoming challenges which would otherwise have existed when working remotely.
Most significantly, being able to use online tools to carry out virtual viewings and offer excellent multimedia coverage for properties meant that even prospective buyers that could not travel to see the premises in person before committing to a deal were able to make a decision without it being too much of a gamble.
A combination of these strategies and the need to be familiar with the tech that is suited to presenting properties effectively on them will undoubtedly shape the working practices and responsibilities of realtors going forward, even as the industry returns to a semblance of normality.
A knock-on effect of remote working being adopted more broadly across the employment spectrum has meant that real estate was rocked by rapid changes in priorities for domestic and commercial customers alike.
Suddenly with offices being vacated and with people being cloistered at home for weeks or months on end, businesses of all sizes no longer had the same need for large office spaces to be available to them. The impact on the retail and hospitality sectors has also caused disruption and turmoil in urbanized areas, and it is unclear whether things will settle back down as workers return to offices in 2021 and beyond.
Then there is the fact that lots of home workers came to terms with the shortcomings of their current property, whether due to a lack of interior or exterior space, causing a surge in those looking to up sticks and move to less built-up areas where they can work remotely while getting more for their money.
House prices continue to spike, suggesting that the real estate industry is having to cope with the indirect effects of COVID-19 and the remote working trends it has fuelled, just as much as it is with the direct ones.
As with any significant global upheaval, there are winners and losers in real estate, and you would need a crystal ball to be able to see what might come next.