PropTech makes it easy to buy or sell a home online | National company

CALGARY – Kim and Dave Bailey knew they wanted to build their new home on land that could accommodate a three-car garage.

But finding the right location meant repeatedly taking time out of their day to visit sales offices, only to find out what they wanted wasn’t even a possibility.

“We must have visited seven or eight home builders in the community,” Dave said. “We had a conversation and then we were like, ‘Can you accommodate a three-car garage? They would say ‘no’, and it was like, ‘OK, I guess we’ve wasted our time. “”

After too many unsatisfactory experiences, the Baileys stumbled upon Ownly, an online buying tool for the new home market launched last year by a pair of Calgary entrepreneurs and now available on multiple websites. Calgary home builders. Using Ownly, the couple were able to browse potential communities and floor plans and determine which home designs fit which lots.

While the advent of e-commerce and mobile technology has long changed the way Canadians shop for everything from clothing to vacations to food, the real estate industry has been slower to embrace digital innovation. For most people, buying a home is still a long and tedious process that involves multiple in-person visits with agents, lawyers, and bankers.

But that is starting to change, with a growing number of home builders, real estate brokers and financial institutions offering digital solutions aimed at modernizing the buying and selling process.

The Baileys also used Ownly to play around with different upgrade packages and get a rough quote. By the time they stepped into the sales office of the builder who ultimately bought their dream home in Calgary, they knew exactly what they wanted and had a good idea of ​​what it was going to cost.

“Building a new home is a huge financial decision,” Kim said. “So being able to look at everything before you go out and know if it’s even doable for you, that reduces some of that disappointment.”

Abdullah Snobar, executive director of the DMZ business incubator at Ryerson University, says the economy is undergoing a major transformation as people become increasingly digitally savvy.

“Startups are definitely thriving in this space and we’re starting to see the industry really find its place around it,” he said.

Most homebuyers are familiar with common digital real estate tools such as online listings, virtual tours, and online mortgage calculators. But tech innovators are now partnering with real estate companies to offer everything from digital sales offices to artificial intelligence-enabled search tools to virtual reality property tours.

Advocates say leveraging PropTech – a term that refers to the use of technology in real estate – can offer a host of benefits to buyers and sellers. Whether it’s minimizing face-to-face contact during the COVID-19 pandemic or the convenience of being able to shop on your own schedule, using digital solutions can eliminate some of the headaches of a search. real estate.

Using PropTech can also save money. Because the Baileys didn’t walk into the sales office blindly, they felt more confident in their ability to pick the model and upgrades that worked within their budget.

“Our salesperson didn’t have to sell us at all. Everything we’ve improved comes directly from us, not from them, ”said Kim.

Although PropTech has made significant progress in disrupting the traditional real estate market, experts say it is not yet possible in Canada to complete all stages of the home buying process – from l offer to finance on closing – online.

But Fred Cassano, partner and national real estate tax leader at PwC Canada, said a number of PropTech companies will likely offer such tools in the near future.

“I think we’re a lot closer than people think so we can complete the whole process online,” Cassano said. “I don’t think we’re too far off to see this, which is a digital transaction from start to finish.”

In fact, Ownly says that over the next year or so, it hopes to expand its own platform to provide a new, comprehensive, end-to-end online home buying service.

Melanie Gowans, general manager of sales and marketing at Shane Homes in Calgary – one of the builders who uses the Ownly tool – said her business was ready for it.

“We would never replace the service we provide now. There will be people who are not comfortable doing all the selling online. But I want to make it available to those who are comfortable, ”Gowans said.

“We (the home construction industry) are one of the last industries to have everything online,” she added. “But if you think back to when you started shopping for clothes online, that seemed really weird too … So I think we’re getting there, and we’ll only get better.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 21, 2021.

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