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What’s next in terms of COVID-related financial aid and how has the industry come together to continue supporting the goal of homeownership amid a pandemic? These questions were recently addressed during a Realogy Owner Update call with CEO Ryan Schneider and guest Congressman Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.), who serves as the republican leader of the House Financial Committee.

“I still believe that health and safety remain the most important thing for all of us,” said Schneider to kick off the call. “It’s a stressful time mentally and emotionally, and I appreciate all the great things I’ve learned from different franchisees to execute transactions safely.” 

Congressman McHenry agreed that the priority should always remain on health and safety, and stated they are “the foundation upon which the economy rests.”

While many of the provisions in the original CARES Act have come to an end, Congress is working on a new round of aid. According to McHenry, many of the new provisions will be similar to what was offered in the past; however, there should also be new programs coming into play. 

“What we’re looking at for this iteration is similar to the lines we established in the March bipartisan bill that did a fairly good job,” he said. “One of the driving pieces was the PPP loans, and making sure they were effective for as many small business as possible to keep the connection between employer and employee strong, delivering relief that did not have adverse effects on unemployment.  We should see another iteration of that, and support for rental assistance to some degree or direct payments to some degree.”

He added that what was not included in the original CARES act is liability protection which “people need in order to confidently get back to work and for businesses to function.” 

“Is there anything you can think of that most people are missing in the discussion of the economy?” Schneider asked. 

While there’s a disconnect with the overall discussion of the economy, according to McHenry, what he really wanted to call attention to was the vast technological advancement that has happened due to COVID.

“One thing that’s missing in the conversation is how quickly we’ve revolutionized digital engagement rather than physical presence,” said McHenry. “We are using tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom and doing it as if this is normal, everyday work—a year ago, people would not want to engage through this digital presence that they are very accustomed to now. You now see people willing to buy a house without ever stepping foot in it.”

McHenry emphasized that in six months, we’ve had 10 years of tech development.

Schneider added that one of the biggest areas for tech advancement has been in remote notarizations so people can close remotely.

“It was only legal in 15 states and now it’s legal in most states,” said Schneider. “It’s the adoption that’s helped a lot of people get their houses closed safety during the crisis.” 

In terms of other technology that brokerages have developed or adapted in order to thrive during this crisis, Schneider said virtual staging processes and virtual open houses using video and mobile tech together have been among the most utilized.

“I have a strong belief that the future of real estate transactions should be virtual and push-button simple,” said Schneider. “It’s been very interesting to see the adoption of those things.”

The areas that need the most reform for tech advancement? The title side and mortgage side, according to Schneider.

“That’s probably the biggest place from a policy standpoint because state laws differ and there isn’t a federal approach.” 

To watch the entire webcast, click here.  

Liz Dominguez is RISMedia’s senior online editor. Email her your real estate news ideas to ldominguez@rismedia.com.

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