The way technology continues to evolve, it’s not very difficult to imagine a day when real estate is traded online like stocks and bonds. When you think about it, buying and selling real estate is still a very old school process with a lot of paper-pushing and tedious steps involved. Between the buyers, sellers, agents, title reps, escrow officers, home inspectors, mortgage lenders, notary publics and others, a lot of things have to happen in order to successfully sell a home. Even the smoothest real estate transactions take months to complete.

Pushing the Envelope

Real estate companies like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, Rocket Mortgage and others have already disrupted the old models of real estate by automating certain aspects of the deal. It used to be a huge deal for a real estate agent to provide a neighborhood “comp” report that detailed recent listings and sales in order to provide a ballpark estimate of your home’s value. Now you just type in your address on Zillow and all that information is right there at the click of a button.

Then, you have a new company like Knock, which promotes a home trade-in process that claims to make the transition of selling your current home and moving into your new home as smooth and easy as possible.

“There are 100 million active users on Zillow and Trulia every month, but only six million people buy and sell houses every year,” says Charles Folsom, Knock’s customer service director. “Even if they’re just window shopping, there’s clearly a desire there. If you can empower the American Dream and enable mobility at the same time, that’s the best of both worlds.”

Change is in the Air

Last year, Zillow began buying houses directly from consumers. This is known in the industry now as iBuying. Their system uses artificial intelligence to generate an “instant offer” based on various data factors. In the second quarter of this year, Zillow purchased more than 1,500 homes and sold nearly 800—and they claim this is just the beginning!

In theory, real estate can someday be bought and sold in just a few easy steps online in the same way you can use services like E*TRADE to buy and sell stocks without going through a stock broker.

The Challenges of Automation

Of course, the paperwork, documents, inspections, escrow periods and other tedious steps of a real estate transaction are there for a reason. That’s why real estate has been slower to adopt technology and use AI like most other transactional industries have already done. It will likely take some time before the entire home sales process can be automated, but there is a good chance it’s on the horizon. And in some ways, it’s already here with services like Zillow or Knock that continue to evolve their digital offerings. Home buyers and sellers have more options than ever, and the number of ways we buy and sell real estate will only increase in the coming years.

The mortgage industry is very similar, and we have been faster to adopt real-time technology than others. People can avoid talking to a lender altogether if they want to simply “push button” and “get mortgage” as Rocket Mortgage claims. Still, there is a place for companies like ours.

No Substitute for the Human Touch

At Transparent Mortgage, we utilize technology and real-time information to help our clients explore options and lock in the best mortgage rates. Yet, we still believe in the importance of providing the human touch—real people you can talk to, ask questions and get genuine advice. We share our expertise with our clients in order to help them make sound mortgage decisions. Some consumers will always prefer that way of business and we’ll be happy to provide it. We are anything but “old school” at Transparent Mortgage, as we strive to bring together the best of the past, present and future in our approach to mortgage lending.

If you have mortgage questions, we’re here to help. Call Transparent Mortgage today at (858) 761-7795 or email me at

JJ De Villiers

JJ De Villiers

JJ De Villiers

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