The Covid-19 crisis has resulted in many changes for the real estate sector. Confinement, economic uncertainty and online working, that a large part of the population has been subjected to, have changed many people’ habits and concerns with regard to housing.
Digitization, a challenge that the sector has had on the table for a long time, has probably entered a new dimension due to the mobility restrictions imposed by the authorities. In this sense, the real estate sector has been able to make the best of the advantages of digitization and, specifically, of the digital marketing ones, to continue offering services to customers and maintain activity although the general context was one of general economic decline. In fact, during the months of confinement and even after, this has been the only way to maintain commercial real estate activity.
Thus, in the customer acquisition processes digital marketing has been established, attracting potential buyers, and allowing the use of one more communication channel for professionals to carry out from virtual visits to properties to telematic procedures. Protocols and work dynamics have been substantially modified and new technologies, such as virtual reality, are making their way as viable alternatives and are being increasingly in demand by consumers.
Confinement has proved that the sector needs to adapt itself to the new times. Society is moving towards a paradigm in which anything that can be done through technology will be done: more remote work, customer visits by videoconference and virtual reality, mass adoption of digital signatures, Big Data, artificial intelligence, and so on.
The already digitized platforms will place themselves in the best position to reap the fruits of this "new world" after COVID-19, and we will see a greater presence of Proptech companies, companies that already offer technological solutions in the Real Estate sector such as electronic payments, virtual banks, crowdlending, real estate crowdfunding, or even blockchain.
But in addition to digitization, the pandemic has imposed important changes in the preferences and needs of future buyers. On the one hand, and as a result of the long confinement of the urban population, there has been an increase in the search for houses with terraces and gardens. The rise of teleworking has also led to the search for larger spaces, open to the outside and with more light. Rooms have changed their function and, beyond being places for rest, they have converted themselves into spaces for work or for exercising.
On the other hand, the growing possibility -and need- to work remotely has made those who have always wanted to live in the city center to now consider the possibility of buying a house in less populated areas, in the suburbs, and even in rural settings, where they can find larger homes at lower prices.
The economic and health crisis has been especially hard for tourism and, consequently, for temporary rentals that in recent years had become very common in the sector. Its demand has drastically fallen and many owners have started looking for long stay tenants, which is leading to a change in the business model. We will soon see if it will be conjunctural or definitive.