As the world hunkers down to overcome the current health crisis, numerous industries are dealing with disruption. This blog series dives into the impact of COVID-19 on some of the most hard-hit industries and explores how distributed agile development can help these industries begin a digital transformation that will serve them well into the future.
The first industry that we will examine is real estate.
It’s not certain what the long term impact of COVID-19 will be for real estate, but the industry is currently experiencing changes from the pandemic. For example, the virus hit during peak home-selling season. At a time when the stats are usually the highest, sellers shied away from putting their homes on the market. According to the National Real Estate Association, the number of homes for sale declined 15.7 percent annually in March.
The unpredictability of the economic situation also led to market rate fluctuations. While some homeowners, mostly looking to refinance, were able to take advantage of this and lock in extremely low mortgage rates, the uncertainty of the situation led to a significant decrease in new mortgage applications overall. According to the Mortgage Bankers Association, mortgage applications to purchase a home are down 24 percent compared to this time last year.
It appears that market contraction of home sales is inevitable, but according to market analysis from Realtor.com, there are a number of scenarios that may play out when it comes to market decline and recovery. Some predictions foresee a deeper contraction in sales but a quick recovery in 2020 and others believe we’ll see a more extended contraction that may not recover until 2021.
While outlooks vary depending on the source, most expect to also see challenges for commercial real estate in the coming months. Some of the most hard-hit industries like retail and restaurants immediately shook up the commercial real estate market as businesses were quickly unable to afford rent due to forced closures.
Further, government orders are currently preventing some owners from accessing their leased commercial properties. Ecommerce, on the other hand, is a bright spot for commercial real estate as the already growing industry is thriving right now with companies like Amazon bringing on tens of thousands of new workers.
Meanwhile, real estate agents are scrambling to move their businesses forward while putting safety first. Although they want to effectively interact with customers, they need to maintain their physical distance. They’ve been forced to be agile and creative in how they show and sell homes. For many, virtual tours and drive-up closings have become the new way of doing things.
Larger firms like Redfin, Keller Williams and Re/Max are already leveraging software to conduct virtual showings, virtual conferencing, and virtual open houses. Many of these larger organizations were quick to cancel live open houses, opting for virtual solutions back in March. Software vendors like Paradym are offering 30-day free trials of virtual home tour software.
Distributed Agile Development for Real Estate
As the real estate industry presses forward, digital transformation is going to be incredibly important to agents, especially those who are independent or working for smaller firms, to help keep them afloat during the current crisis and to prepare for the inevitable changes that will emerge from industry disruption. However, in the immediate future, they need to provide a virtual experience that equals the in-person home buying situation.
Further, real estate businesses have the opportunity to gain a competitive edge and reap long-term benefits by becoming digital now. But, how can these agencies accomplish this? With limited resources and limited time, distributed agile software development is an effective way to support the transition to a virtual real estate world. Distributed agile software development involves groups of geographically dispersed technology teams who are able to continuously deliver value through delivering software, meeting deadlines, and innovating without pause. Through this approach, software development is uninterrupted and can be conducted in a fluid, fast, and iterative way—enabling, in this case, those virtual real estate experiences.
However, for an industry like real estate, not all agencies have swarms of development teams working around the clock to deliver digital experiences. For those who are unable to achieve distributed agile software development on their own, there are organizations that offer it as a service and are ready to serve these impacted industries.
Exadel is one of them. With agile software development and engineering teams throughout North America and Eastern Europe, Exadel is continuing to deliver digital transformation projects. We’ve been working as a distributed agile software development company for decades and have the resources and expertise to take on even the toughest digital transformation projects. The Exadel team is especially passionate about helping organizations during these times when for many digital transformation is not a choice but a necessity for adapting and surviving in these times.
We were recently recognized by Forrester as a leading Agile Software Development Services Provider. If you are looking to ramp up or start your digital transformation process, reach out to get started today!