Technology is key to smoothing out all of the friction points of the real estate transaction, according to two company executives at Inman Connect New York.
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Real estate closings aren’t magic, “but we can get there,” Shawna Hernandez, vice president of operations at Endpoint, told an audience at Inman Connect New York on Thursday during a conversation with Paul Dorney, CTO of Punchlist, on the topic of seamless transactions.
Endpoint is a software application that helps consumers, agents and escrow managers oversee the closing process — historically a morass of paperwork, tenuous deadlines and anxiety-riddled consumers.
A former escrow officer, Hernandez recalled a closing in which the buyer turned to their agent after everyone put their pens down, and said, “Oh, that was easy.”
“As a closer, I knew that was the magical moment. How can we get that buyer to be focused on the agent, and not get so worked up?” Hernandez said.
The emotional component of buying a home tends to crescendo as closing day approaches, but Endpoint’s aim is to “bottle the ease” that buyer felt when closing was over, and use that as the goal for creating the seamless transaction.
Dorney believes a big component to making the real estate transaction better is removing the friction points, and many of them emerge during and after the inspection.
Punchlist digitizes home inspections and matches its report results with local vendors who can handle them and uses dynamic, real-time retail pricing searches to make estimates faster and more accurate.
Repairs mean money, and in an active transaction, money means negotiation. If it gets heated, the deal gets dicey.
“Technology has made virtually every consumer marketplace seamless, but our space still has a lot of analogue and human processes,” Dorney said. “But by extracting the data from an inspection, by digitizing it, it can be acted on it faster, and you can easily see what things will cost.”
Hernandez cited all the details of a closing as a source of worry for buyers.
“When you look under the hood of a closing transaction, there are one billion details,” she said. “People like me love that, I want to roll around in all those details, but that’s not anything for the buyer or seller, or the agent to worry about. So we operationalize those details.”
People can’t be extracted from the transaction, they remain essential to making it seamless, she said.
Endpoint looks for ways to enhance and optimize the human element.
“We decide, what is the human going to do? Where in this process is there a moment to have human engagement,” she said, “And, where can we have automation and technology really solve a problem?”
Technology can assuage the pain points faster, especially for the consumer, Dorney said. “If you look after your customers, regardless of the business you’re in, you’re halfway there.”