Two decades after Zillow and Trulia made home searching easier, the rest of the home buying process remains largely unchanged. The term “Amazon of real estate” is now being coined to describe the next big revolution in the industry. Buying a home involves multiple steps and intermediaries, including brokers, inspectors, appraisers, and loan processors, among others. Despite the influx of technology and startups aiming to simplify the process, buying a home has become even more complicated due to information overload and an array of choices.
The complexity in home sales arises from the individual needs and financial histories of buyers, making a one-size-fits-all approach impractical. Regulations, especially after the 2008 financial crisis, have made the process even more cumbersome. For example, rules limit kickbacks between agents and mortgage lenders to protect consumers but also add layers of complexity. Surveys indicate that understanding the process is a significant challenge for first-time buyers, and many do not fully comprehend the documents they sign during the purchase.
Although technology has the potential to make home buying easier, it hasn’t significantly changed the basic structure of the process. Companies are working on platforms that could guide users through the entire home buying journey, from searching for a home to closing the deal. Zillow is working on a “housing super app,” but details are scant. There are concerns that such a streamlined process could limit choices for consumers. However, industry players are optimistic that major changes are on the horizon, including the possibility of a real-estate super app that simplifies the process for everyone involved.