|The Real Estate Revolution: 6 Tech Innovations Sellers And Buyers Need On Their Radar
BY Aly J. Yale
The mortgage and real estate industries are undergoing a technological revolution-and it’s about time.
As any homebuyer can tell you, buying real estate is anything but quick or simple. There are reams of paperwork, documents and contracts to sign-often in person-and keeping track of it all is a full-time job in itself.
But all that might be changing.
In recent months, the number of lenders offering digital mortgage applications has skyrocketed. From SunTrust to Bank of America, it seems even the most traditional of mortgage companies are going digital.
That’s only the start, though. In addition to all these simplified online processes, dozens of new apps, tools and tech have hit the scene, offering everything from faster closings and virtual home staging to customized mortgage and debt management solutions.
Here are some of the best real estate innovations to date-including one on the horizon:
For a fast closing: Lenda
This one’s poised to be a game-changer for today’s homebuyers-especially those on a time crunch. According to Jason van den Brand, CEO and cofounder of Lenda, his company has perfected a lightning-fast, five-day closing process that puts industry weeks-long averages to shame. The process utilizes cutting-edge tech to underwrite application, credit and financial data in real-time as it’s entered online by the customer, saving significant money and time for the buyer. As van den Brand put it, “Collectively, this helps customers complete their home loan approval in 30 minutes instead of the two weeks it typically takes banks and allows Lenda to produce these loans at a fraction of the cost, passing the savings onto its customers. On average, Lenda customers are saving close to $50,000 per loan.” Lenda also uses e-notaries to validate and sign documents via webcam.
A quick disclaimer: Though Lenda can technically complete underwriting in five days, current regulations require lenders to wait until day nine to sign and fund a purchase loan.
For better managing your debt: Home Intelligence
Mr. Cooper’s Home Intelligence app is a yet-to-be-launched tool that homeowners will want on their radar-particularly if they’re dealing with debt issues. Not only does the app offer insights into how much a user’s home is worth (even factoring in neighborhood trends and other market data), but it also serves up personalized debt consolidation recommendations based on their current home equity. Home Intelligence also helps homeowners realize potential monthly savings opportunities and shows users ways to pay off their mortgage loan sooner. The app will open up exclusively to Mr. Cooper customers this summer, though a wider release is planned down the line.
For visualizing that new home before you buy: Curate
Home shoppers often find it hard to visualize themselves in a property-especially when it’s still full of a previous owner’s decor, furniture and personal belongings. But a new augmented reality app from Sotheby’s International Realty aims to change that. Dubbed Curate, the tool lets users virtually place furniture and decor throughout a space as they tour it. Items come in various styles and colors, and users can even shop directly for many of the products right from the app. Curate is currently only available on Android devices, though it will launch on iOS later this month.
For buying and selling at the same time: Knock
For homeowners looking to move onward or upward, a new tool called Knock makes the process of selling while buying seamless. Homeowners essentially trade in their old home for a new one, with Knock there to manage the whole process. Here’s how it works: Knock will help sellers find their new home and get prequalified for a loan. Then, Knock buys the customer’s new home with an all-cash offer and moves them in. They then make, manage and advance the cost for up to $10,000 of repairs on the old property to improve its marketability, and list it on the open market. Once the old home sells, Knock transfers the new home into the customer’s name and mortgage and gives the sellers the difference, minus any repair costs, financing fees and a 6% commission-half of which goes to the buyer’s agent.
For no-hassle selling: Redfin Concierge
For home sellers who don’t want to put in a lot of extra work-or who just want their property to sell quickly-Redfin’s new Concierge service can help. Not only will Redfin manage the home’s listing and marketing, but it will also pay for, coordinate and supervise extra services to up its marketability-things like painting, landscaping, deep cleaning or even full-on staging. The service comes with a 2% fee and is currently only available to Los Angeles and Washington, D.C.-based home sellers.
For finding an agent: ArriveHome
Forget ride-hailing. With a new app called ArriveHome, buyers can hail real estate agents instead. Available on iOS and Android, ArriveHome gives users a live map of available agents in their area. With a click of a button, they can contact one to ask questions, learn more about a property or even schedule a showing on the spot.
For saving that down payment: Give one of these tools a whirl.