Hawaii Island Homes Hawaii Island Homes

Honolulu Realtors® take business virtual

The marina side of The Peninsula at Hawaii Kai.

Not so long ago, we would never have thought to order several weeks’ worth of groceries on the internet to have them show up at your door only a few days later. The real estate industry is evolving in much the same way.

Already, the coronavirus has, at least temporarily, quashed the long-standing tradition of all-afternoon Sunday openhouse shopping, inspiring home shoppers to adjust by investigating other paths to finding their perfect home. Online real estate search engines (including hicentral.com operated by Honolulu Board of REALTORS®), virtual open-house tours and drone footage are now essential elements of home marketing in a socially distant reality.

Mortgage applications can be made and processed online, allowing borrowers to also shop for the lowest mortgage interest rate. Escrow officers have shifted to having buyers and sellers sign documents via apps, such as DocuSign®, making it possible to transfer ownership, while safely sheltering at home.

Despite the impact the economic pandemic has dealt, the core basis for home sales continues. People still have housing needs. Cashing out equity to pay for assisted living care for an aging parent, or medical expenses. Consolidating by bringing families together under one roof and pooling resources.

Empty nesters may still want to downsize by selling the home they’ve outgrown and replacing it with something smaller and less expensive. The old adage is true, necessity is the mother of invention, and the real estate industry is responding with creative ways to get homes listed and sold.

The Honolulu Board of REALTORS ® temporarily canceled all open houses, but its members continue to conduct essential business. Showings are held virtually and preventive measures, including practices in social distancing and hygiene, are encouraged for any activity that must occur in-person or on the property.

“We are doing our part to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep our community safe,” said Tricia Nekota, president of the Honolulu Board of REALTORS®. “The real estate industry — from Realtors® to title companies, financial institutions, and more — is presenting a united front to support homeowners and renters. We know that it will take everyone’s cooperation to get through this uncertain time.”

While open houses on the island have gone virtual, Title Guaranty escrow company is meeting the industry’s changing needs by offering a drive-up signings, which allow real estate transactions to be safely and securely fulfilled — provisions allow clients to sign and have documents notarized using a mobile notary. Drive-up signing appointments may be scheduled through the individual’s escrow officer, and carried out in a number of Title Guaranty branches across the state.

Real estate agency Locations has been at the forefront of real estate technology in Hawaii for more than 50 years and is wellplaced to meet the challenges the pandemic has brought to the local market.

“Even during this difficult time, our firm continues to find innovative technology solutions to the challenges presented by necessary social distancing measures,” says Shannon K. Smith, Realtor® and partner at Locations. “That is why Locations has made it easier for you to find property listings with virtual tours. Your home search doesn’t have to stop just because you’re stuck at home. And if you’re a home seller, or you’re thinking about listing your home soon, I’m happy to offer you the option of producing a virtual tour, too.”

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