The Coronavirus pandemic has transformed the way real estate agents conduct business across the globe, pushing them to embrace technology and digitization more than ever before. "While the industry had been moving toward digitization prior to the crisis, the pandemic has propelled the industry 10 steps forward transforming digitization and technology from 'nice to haves' to absolute essentials. As society attempts to adapt to this 'new normal', businesses will set themselves apart by finding innovative ways to deliver value and convenience to customers," comments Adrienne Hersch, CEO of Adrienne Hersch Properties. Adrienne says the company rapidly pivoted its in-person viewings and valuations to offer a virtual service when the first cases of the virus began to emerge in South Africa in March. "Adrienne Hersch Properties' virtual viewings allow buyers to experience a space from the comfort of their home, which is a major advantage during these uncertain times. We're also still continuing with our in-person viewings but have adopted the highest safety protocols." She says the agency has successfully concluded a number of deals during lockdown due to its newly introduced virtual offerings. Adrienne anticipates virtual viewings to remain in high demand long after the virus disappears as consumers get used to the convenience associated with not having to leave their homes to view a property. "Buyers and renters will no longer need to physically travel to a property in order to get a feel for it." She says the pandemic, has also filtered serial home-viewers from more serious buyers. "Often, show days were frequented by casual shoppers who had not taken key steps such as getting bond pre-approval or putting their own homes on the market. We've seen a major drop off in casual buyers and an uptick in far more serious buyers who are aggressively in the market to rent or buy a home." Adrienne says another innovation introduced by the company are virtual or desktop valuations whereby the agent is able to provide the seller or landlord with an accurate valuation of their property based on certain criteria as well as key suburb insights without entering their home. She says while the real estate industry is evolving towards a far more digital and tech-focused environment, there will always be the need for the human element of an estate agent. "People want to talk to someone. They want to be guided every step of the way, as well as receive real insights and expertise that they would not be able to receive were they to engage in a purely digital transaction."