New electronic tools coming into use

The exploration of digital tools is expanding in ways that that are likely to continue well beyond the current world of social-distancing. The situation is creating change for types of transactions that have traditionally been focused on many in-person meetings and rounds of paperwork and walk-throughs.

Sellers, real estate agents and landlords are using a Zillow feature that allows them to create virtual 3D home tours using a panorama of the home taken on a smartphone.

Realtors are also conducting some showings on Zoom or FaceTime.

The Federal Housing Finance Agency, which regulates Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac, has begun to allow alternative methods for appraisals that don’t require someone to be in person at the house.

Some appraisers are conducting “drive-bys,” during which they drive by and walk through a neighborhood and by the house without going in. In some instances, they are using online research and public information to determine a home’s value.

Home inspections are being conducted without anyone else in the house, and relevant stakeholders dial in by videoconference.

For a closing, a company called eOriginal will provide digital ways to close on a mortgage. The company launched in 2018.

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