A Kitchener developer and a Toronto home development web hub have launched a feature that allows consumers to buy a condo online using a credit card.
The purchaser can specify the floor plan, parking and storage locker they want using the BuyNow button on the BuzzBuzzHome website.
It just makes sense in the age of Amazon, says BuzzBuzzHome president Matthew Slutsky, who says his company’s BuyNow option is an industry first.
Starting immediately, it allows consumers to look at the details and then purchase a unit in the Barra On Queen condo-townhouse development in Kitchener by Polocorp.
The Waterloo Region tech hub is a logical choice for an online purchase launch, said Polocorp chief marketing officer Joseph Puopolo. His firm’s downtown Kitchener development is a quick walk to the city’s Communitech technology incubator.
There will be some consumers — particularly tech workers — comfortable with putting down a deposit for a condo online, he said.
“The world is changing around us and we have to be out in front of it in order to respond to purchasers,” said Puopolo.
“So many people working at Google and some of the other tech companies there like the ability to just come on and buy now. Given the amount of talent that is coming in from the States and other parts of the country, other people might not be able to purchase or go to the traditional sales centre. They want to look from abroad and they can purchase remotely,” he said.
Alternatively, said Slutsky, “we do expect that end users are going to be going to sales offices, really figuring out what they want and then coming home and making their final decision and doing it from the comfort of their couch.”
Pre-construction condos are a different buying experience because the buyer never actually gets to see the final product until they own it, he said. Model suites are usually highly designed and upgraded so they don’t necessarily reflect the buyer’s reality.
“A sales centre can cost $2 million to $5 million to build. Then there’s staff, huge costs on the administration side. Sales centres going forward will be brought down a little bit and not need to be so hyper-staffed and over the top,” said Slutsky. “I think there will be savings there in the future that can be passed on to the consumer.”
BuyNow doesn’t replace the sales centre or sales representatives, said Puopolo. About 60 per cent of the Barra On Queen units have been sold, many through a traditional sales office.
But, he said, “we view this as the future of where real estate and the transaction is going.”
“In 10 years, I can envision a world where people are sitting in their houses with augmented reality headsets and walking through their virtual condo and picking their preferences and then using a virtual buy-now button to complete their purchase,” said Puopolo.
“The blurring of the lines of augmented reality, online purchasing, comfort level of consumers — this is all occurring right now,” he said.
The launch of BuyNow and an inventory system called Daypack will automatically generate most of a purchase contract based on the buyer’s preferences. It marks the transition of BuzzBuzzHome from a development information site to a real estate marketplace, said Slutsky. He expects more clients to adopt BuyNow this year.
Pre-construction home buyers typically put down a deposit of $3,000 to $5,000 upon the signing of an agreement of sale. Then, within 10 days, the balance of the required five per cent of the purchase price must be submitted by cheque to the builder.
Purchasers using the BuyNow feature will still have to abide by Financial Transactions and Reports Analysis Centre of Canada (FINTRAC) identification and banking requirements, said Slutsky.
Barra On Queen includes 106 condos and seven townhouses. The project breaks ground next month and is expected to be completed by the end of 2019. Units start at about $320,000.