How digital innovation in real estate makes buying and selling more secure

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How digital innovation in real estate makes buying and selling more secure

This is an article published in Domain on Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Written by KATE FARELLY

The changes forced on real estate agents by the government’s COVID-19 social distancing measures have led to a mammoth uptake of proptech in a bid to keep business afloat.

“The virus has accelerated agents’ adoption of some of this technology and it’s made a lot of businesses realise they’ve been overly dependent on legacy systems,” says Kylie Davis, founder of the recently formed Proptech Association Australia.

“[These systems] don’t allow them the flexibility to let their staff work from home and those agents have been scrambling for new options.”

Davis says many proptech (property technology) options are already well-tested and offer highly functional solutions that make processes for buying, selling and leasing more robust and secure. 

“The benefits to sellers, buyers, landlords and tenants are light years ahead of what the old manual system can do,” Davis says. 

Stephen Venn, principal of Harcourts VennMillar in Adelaide, was an early adopter of Reso, an online sales platform that records the entire transaction including every buyer and every offer, making it independently auditable. 

Stephen Venn

He also uses Openn to conduct online auctions and says there’s no question these platforms enhance his business processes.

“We started using them before we were forced to and the take-up from buyers has been quite positive, particularly now when they expect agents to be doing everything online.”

Ray White Carrum Downs BDM Victoria Cox started using Forms Live four months ago and recently incorporated DocuSign to better adhere to social distancing guidelines.

“We saw that was the way the world was going anyway and it integrates with our CRM,” Cox says. “It’s a lot faster and easier to get things done and we can make changes from wherever we are. We’re not dealing with paperwork and we’ve cut out those waiting days.”

Sydney-based agent Max Wagschall of The Agency Lower North Shore is happily working from home using Realtair, a digital platform managing the sales process from appraisal to settlement.

“Some agents have come unstuck because they didn’t have systems in place but there’s nothing really holding me back in terms of what I can do for clients and I can continue the workload I was operating at [pre-COVID-19],” he said.

National operations manager for First National Ed Atkinson says he aims to provide members with as many services as possible so they can continue conducting business. 

Atkinson has built First National Hyperlocal, a platform that enables single-click marketing within a certain kilometre radius of any given listing. With buyers stuck at home, his software ensures agent listings find an audience via property portals like Domain and social media platforms. 

“Every week we’ve been publishing out to our network and we’ve got agents that are absolutely smashing it right now, aided by proptech,” he says.

Davis believes anything that adds transparency to real estate transactions and makes the process faster and easier is a good thing.

“When this is all over, anyone who goes back to the old ways of doing business needs their head read,” she says.

Online platforms help real estate agents adapt to new rules

This is an article published in InDaily on Monday, March 30, 2020

Written by Jessica Bassano

Interest in an Adelaide-based online real estate platform that reduces the need for face-to-face interactions between agents and clients is skyrocketing as the latest COVID-19 restrictions force the industry to rely on digital services.

The surge of interest follows last week’s federally imposed ban on in-room and onsite auctions as well as open inspections, which dramatically changes the way Australians buy and sell houses.

While digital platform Real Estate Sale Online (RESO) has experienced steady growth since launching almost 12 months ago, RESO CEO Kate Chalk said interest in the software had doubled in the past fortnight.

She said the platform had already been adopted by 428 agents across Australia, with about 1085 houses uploaded to the software from agencies such as Ray White, Harcourts and First National.

“Agents used to have to drive around and get contracts and while they might get an offer via email they still had to go get the contract signed up,” Chalk said.

“RESO is digitising the transaction process.

“But it doesn’t take away the human interaction. It just means the agent, vendor and buyer don’t need to be in the same room as one another because the whole process can be done from start to finish with everyone sitting in their individual homes.”

The platform is among a number of tools real estate agents are adopting so they can continue selling properties despite COVID-19 restrictions. Other digital platforms being adopted include live streaming sites Auction Now, GAVL and Facebook Live as well as video conferencing software Zoom Video Communications and Google Hangout.

Ray White Norwood last week brought forward seven auctions to Wednesday ahead of the new government restrictions banning traditional auctions and open inspections from Thursday. The company is now looking at several digital options to bring future auctions online.

Ray White SA Chief Auctioneer John Morris said adapting to digital platforms would allow the business to continue with auctions in spite of the restrictions.

“When Scott Morrison gave his press release, everyone sat panicked in our industry. But we got down to work and began looking at alternative ways to work – online portals, off-site bidding, remote bidding, all of that sort of thing,” he said.

“There is always opportunity in adversity.”

RESO was developed for property sales including private, pre and post auction and best offer by and can be used for single or multiple offers.

Chalk said the platform streamlined all of the paperwork associated with buying a property, pulling  it all into the one place.

“Agents who use the RESO platform can upload a property in a matter of minutes and provide buyers 24/7 access to the registration, offer and contract process,” she said.

Chalk said not only did this save real estate agents between five and nine hours of work per client, it allowed agents to rank offers.

“The buyer gets an update when the agent has updated the sale, so everyone gets included,” Chalk said.

“We have a level of transparency, which is really important for the buyer, so they can see where they stand. For example, if the buyer’s offer is the second out of four they have the ability to make another offer.

“Buyers can also look at all of the documents and they can put in their conditions without having to see anyone – they can do it from their couch. Then the agent can show the vendor all of the offers and the different conditions and the vendor can choose which offer they want.”

It is all about the technology – #workingwelltogetherapart

Since 1989 Realmark has sold more than eleven thousand Western Australian properties but business has never looked like it does now.

REIWA award winning agent Nathan Tonich, and the Realmark Urban team, have adapted to working with clients who are all #stayinghome thanks to a range of technology solutions.

It is early days in terms of COVID-19 and Nathan knows even more changes are on the horizon, but having adopted the RESO online offer and management solution he is safely and efficiently still selling properties.

“At the moment we haven’t felt a huge negative impact in terms of results,” Nathan says, “in fact, I just sold two RESO properties in three days”.

“They weren’t brand new listings – they both had been on the market for a few weeks – but they sold nonetheless.  And since the escalation in restrictions I have still had some good sales and the rest of the office is having the same experience – properties are still selling at the moment.

“Nevertheless, we are preparing for greater changes while also responding to restrictions that have already been put in place to open inspections and auctions.”

Nathan says one of the first effects he is seeing is a drop-in people choosing to go to market because they are unsure of what the process will look like.

“I did five appraisals in the week before the greater restrictions were put in place and two of those appraisals, given a normal climate would probably come onto the market this week or next week but they are probably holding off for at least the next two to five weeks to just wait and see where we are heading,” Nathan says.

“I do also have a few properties coming onto the market in the next week or two and a couple of those vendors have contacted me and asked if it is the right thing to sell now or not. 

“My advice is that if you are looking to sell imminently then I would go ahead and do it because at the end of the day it may be harder down the track.  So, if people are looking to sell in the next six months, I think they should do it now and we have the processes in place to do that really well.”

Nathan says vendors don’t even have to ask about how he is going to manage the recent restrictions because he mentions it straight away.

“I know it is at the front of their minds and because we do have a solution for the problems it is easy to reassure them,” he says.

“It is one of the main selling features that I go through in the process – that we have the RESO online offer process that is also linked through DocuSign so everything is completely remote.

“I find that the RESO website document portal is also much better than most CRM’s because uploading documents is really easy and such a good way for people to access strata plans, minutes from recent strata meetings or anything that they need.  

“The processes of having documents accessible online through RESO is also a good way to get buyers to log on and make an offer because if they are interested enough to look at the documents they can really quickly and easily make an offer.”

Nathan and the Realmark Urban team have also adopted a range of other technologies that are perfectly feeding into the RESO online document and offer portal.

“Everyone has been setting up working remotely from home offices, which will only increase going forward,” Nathan says.

“I have also been encouraging people to embrace RESO and we are undertaking training sessions and also getting all our properties and all the relevant documentation up and ready on www.RESO.com.au 

“We have negotiated an exclusive package with one of the virtual tour providers and we are recommending to all our vendors and landlords that they use these online virtual tours so we can continue to provide access to properties. 

“We are also creating our own virtual tours by walking through the property and filming it on out phones and scheduling home opens on Facebook Live.”

For Nathan, and the team, technology is the key to keeping them all connected, servicing their clients and selling properties safely.

Technology powering agents into the future

Savvy REIWA members all across the vast area of Western Australia have been accessing the latest real estate market data, statistics, sales information, calculators and suburb profiles online for years.

As more tasks become digitised, Real Estate Institute of Western Australia CEO, Neville Pozzi, knows how important it is for agents to embrace technology and innovation that can improve productivity and provide even better customer experiences.

reiwa.com is a comprehensive and trusted local knowledge source which provides agents, buyers and sellers with online tools that help simplify one of the biggest decisions in their life,” Pozzi says.

“Which is why developing new ways to connect and providing people with the most up to date information is quite important for us.

“Beyond sourcing valuable information, we assist our members in embracing new technologies which help to make certain tasks quicker and improves the customer’s experience with tools such as inspection apps, digital forms and making greater use of CRM’s to manage data and engage with customers.

“To remain relevant, we know that real estate agents all over the world need to embrace technology to deliver superior services, reduce their costs and make things as simple as possible for everyone involved.”

Real estate specialists from around the globe shared their wisdom at the FUTURE: PropTech 2019 event in London recently and among the key themes was the need for digital innovation to be focussed on ways to support agents to do their day to day jobs better.  

“End to end solutions, like that offered by RESO – Real Estate Sales Online – is the way of the future as the real estate industry embraces technology to become more streamlined and give consumers better experiences,” Pozzi says.

RESO CEO Kate Chalk says as technologically empowered homebuyers begin to dominate the property market, tools like RESO, deliver options for agents that vastly improve the end-to-end experience for both vendors and buyers.

Agents who use the RESO platform can upload a property in a matter of minutes and provide buyers 24/7 access to the registration, offer and contract process,” Chalk says.

“More and more agents are sharing with us that time, energy and money are being saved in spades with buyers being able to access all stages of the buying process online and respond to the different stages instantly wherever they are in the world.”

Real estate agents all over Australia work really hard to deliver exceptional outcomes for clients, but as the real estate sector transforms, they will also need to continually adopt the best technology options for digitally savvy buyers and sellers.

“In some respects the industry has been slow to embrace leading edge technology but that is all changing as businesses seek to become more efficient, reduce their costs and use technology across multiple platforms to better manage and use information collected by the business,” Pozzi says.

“RESO is an essential component in the industry’s drive to do these things to become more efficient and improve the overall consumer experience.”

When all the stars line up at once!

It’s been a big week for anyone interested in the property market.

Data released by CoreLogic on Monday showed that property prices in Sydney and Melbourne are up for the first time since 2017.

Dwelling values in Australia’s two biggest cities rose 0.1% and 0.2% respectively, with CoreLogic analysts attributing the trend to “lower mortgage rates and improved sentiment”.

On Tuesday the Reserve Bank of Australia cut interest rates for the 14th time in the current elongated monetary policy easing cycle that began in November 2011.

The official cash rate hit a record low of 1 per cent and the RBA governor Philip Lowe suggested the bank will be seriously considering further rate cuts in the months ahead.

On Tuesday evening the government’s full tax package passed the House of Representatives, with Prime Minister Scott Morrison promising tax cut lump sums of up to $1080 would be arriving in Australians’ accounts as early as next week.

Wednesday may have been a day of financial rest for the Australian economy but then on Thursday evening the Coalition’s full $158 billion income tax plan passed through the Senate.

And on Friday (today) the Australian Prudential Regulation Authority removed the serviceability buffer that requires banks to assess all borrowers against their capacity to repay their loan at 7 per cent.

RESO CEO Kate Chalk  says that The Financial Review’s headline “APRA bins buffer, lets lending rip” says it all this morning with details emerging that “under the new rules banks will merely add 250 basis points to the rate paid in order to assess whether or not the loan is suitable for the borrower”.

“We know how hard agents all over Australia have been working to provide exceptional service to Australian home buyers and vendors who have being doing it tough for a while and we truly welcome this string of good news for the housing market,” Chalk says.

“According to CoreLogic’s Research Director, Tim Lawless, a couple with two children and an income of $150k per annum can now increase their borrowing by around $67K.

“This is really good news and along with interest rate cuts and the government’s tax cuts arriving in bank accounts very soon, its onwards and upwards.

“We look forward to continuing to partner with agents to deliver exceptional customer experiences as the Australian property market continues to adjust to changing conditions.”

For more information about how RESO – Real Estate Sales Online – can help streamline the property buying and selling process please go to reso.com.au or call 1300 123 091.

Partnering with agents to empower exceptional customer connections

Thirty years since Australia first connected to the Internet and digitisation, blockchain, the gig economy, big data, cloud computing, artificial intelligence and virtual reality are just some of the ways online technologies are transforming our economy.

Consumers are certainly adapting to this seismic shift in digital interactions in what is being called the “Age of Continuous Connection”.

Nicolaj Siggelkow and Christian Terwiesch authored an article in the Harvard Business Review this month examining how a range of new technologies are enabling frequent, low-friction, customised digital interactions and helping to build much deeper ties between businesses and customers.

“By providing customers with services and products they’ve requested – as quickly and seamlessly as possible” businesses are responding to consumers who just want the buying process to be easy, Siggelkow and Terwiesch write.

Real estate and property technologies (RealTech/PropTech) are perfect examples of this “respond-to-desire” technology strategy and are changing the way we design, build, manage, invest in, and buy and sell property.

RESO CEO, Kate Chalk, says Real Estate Sales Online empowers property buyers with what are now the essential consumer capabilities of instant access to information, minimal friction in transaction processes, maximum flexibility in timing and location, and precise execution of the purchase.

“RESO also helps agents reduce their costs of doing business through automation, speed, a seamless end-to-end process and scaling of the property purchase,” Chalk says.

“Agents who use the RESO platform can upload a property in a matter of minutes and provide buyers 24/7 access to the registration, offer and contract process.

“More and more agents are sharing with us that time and energy are being saved in spades with buyers being able to access all stages of the buying process online and respond to the different stages instantly wherever they are in the world.”

If you would a quick and easy run through of the platform give Chelsea or Rachel a call on 1300123091 or email info@reso.com.au

From hands…to heads…to hearts

The future of work for Australians, and people all over the world, is endlessly being questioned by those who fear the “robot revolution”.

Deloitte Access Economics released research this week that significantly debunks the myth that the path to prosperity is mechanical, showing, in fact, that the future of work is human.

Deloitte partner, and lead report author, David Rumbens, says while technology is driving change in the way we all work, and the work we do, we can actually use technology to create more meaningful and productive jobs.

That today’s jobs are increasingly likely to require cognitive skills of the head rather than the manual skills of the hands won’t be a surprise,” Rumbens says.

“Yet something new is also happening with jobs increasingly needing us to use our hearts – the interpersonal and creative roles, with uniquely human skills like creativity, customer service, care for others, and collaboration.”

CEO of RESO – Real Estate Sales Online – Kate Chalk, says real estate agents have always known the value of individualised attention and work tirelessly to deliver exceptional customer experiences to vendors and buyers – every day of the week.

“When it comes to buying and selling property, people want local knowledge, genuine and timely service and, of course, the best financial outcome they can possibly generate,” Chalk says.

“Deloitte’s The path to prosperity: Why the future of work is human report shows the biggest threats to our employment market could actually be a lack of workers with the right skills and a workforce that’s also feeling burnt out.

“RESO is a property technology tool that allows vendors and buyers to have an instant, transparent and simple property transaction processes from beginning to end – freeing up time, and money, better spent in other ways.

“By supporting agents to seamlessly manage sales online capturing all buyer details, their offers and conditions, from the first contact, right through to contract completion, precious time can be channeled into authentic, human interactions,” Chalk says.

“RESO ensures agents are still in the driver’s seat because the real estate transaction is personal, complicated and emotional, and agents have the skills to deliver exceptional consumer experiences.

“RESO has taken a collaborative approach with agents and the industry – working together to provide a digital choice that adds significant value to the real estate transaction process – because there is nothing “robotic” about the individualised services great agents provide.”

For details on how RESO supports agentsbuyers and sellers visit www.reso.com.au or call 1300 1230 91