Technology and your Home Purchase
Unless you are Rip van Winkle, you know how technology has changed every aspect of our lives. In this article, we would like to share just a select few of the enhancements new technology can add to your home purchase. We will follow up in a later edition with an article on how it benefits home sellers. These enhancements fall into three categories:
1. Enhanced quality and quantity of information flow to purchaser
2. Improved decision making through sophisticated Comparative Market Analysis
3. Improved tracking and completion of the ever increasing complex processes of Real Estate transactions.
We will frame this in the context of the classical Military Family PCSing from Atsugi, Japan, and purchasing a home in NOVA.
Our Military Family, like 80% of home buyers today, started their search on the internet. On the initial contact with our Military Family we learn that they have orders to arrive in NOVA for the“glamorous Pentagon duty” in four months for a summer roll. (I know, when’s the last time the order writers gave anyone four months?) After a careful analysis of their requirements (affordability, commute and schools…sound familiar?) we program searches specific to our clients needs through the MLS and establish daily automated emails with all new listings that meet our client’s needs. Each day they simply click on a link and review the new listings, and save an electronic file of the listings that interest them. Those listings are placed on a watch list thatautomatically updates the client on any changes in status, such as a price reduction. Not only does this greatly simplify the home search process, the client gains tremendous insight into what home values are in a number of NOVA communities and “calibrates” themselves on the market.
At the same time, they can review all of the key statistics about the school districts of interest through direct links to the specific county and school, or through independent links such as Great Schools.net. Well before arriving for the house hunting trip, they can have a great feel for various communities and their schools, even if they have never stepped foot in NOVA. This improved advanced information makes the house hunting trip more productive by an order of magnitude. Through advanced modeling, they can work with their lender to have loan pre-approval to verify the price range of the search. This process can take as little as 30 minutes and ensures that the searches are focused in the proper price range.
One week prior to the house hunting trip, our Military Family sends their electronic file of preferred listings to us. Now they can be certain that they will tour listings THEY want to see rather than the Realtors “best guess” of what interest them. This can easily save two days of frustrating home tours while we gain an understanding of their requirements.
Of course one parent has stayed behind in Japan to care for the kids and we will assume Dad is making the house hunting trip. Upon arrival, we have used the enhanced Google mapping features of the MLS to plan an effective tour of the three counties of interest…Fairfax, Prince William and Stafford. Given the large number of homes and the significant distances (not to mention traffic) to cover, this is a critical element of an effective tour. The first day’s homes are plugged into the GPS and the tour begins. At the end of the second day, four homes are under serious consideration. Using digital camera’s dozens of pictures are taken of the homes, uploaded and immediately sent to Mom. Even though this is a Father’s Day edition, we know the old saying “When Mom’s Happy, Everybody’s Happy to be an absolute in Real Estate!” Keeping a spouse half way across the planet engaged in the process is a major enhancement to making the home purchase a happy experience!
After the right home has been found, we want to ensure that the offer is to the buyer’s maximum advantage. No longer is this done by a “gut feeling” recommendation by the Realtor® or roll of the dice. Using sophisticated searches and modeling from MLS data, we build spreadsheets that evaluate all similar homes that have recently sold and similar homes that are currently on the market…or the competition. This makes a synthesis of the two possible and usually results in an obvious “offer range.”
When the contract is accepted and Dad is on his way back to Japan to begin the PCS, a new generation of Transaction Management software enables the almost 30 page contract process to be effectively tracked and managed. It also gives our Military Family the ability to view their transaction’s status 24 – 7. In the near future, the “old fashion fax” will be completely obsolete as new technology and judicial decisions will make electronic signatures completely acceptable and legal. Signed documents will be moved back and forth via email and in many cases, paper copies will simply disappear.
At VR SAM® you can be certain that we will maximize use of technology to make your transaction as efficient as possible, but we will NEVER lose sight of the fact that it can’t replace the VR SAM® version of C4I… Contact, Communication, Care and Concern!