In May 2021, during the outbreak of the COVID-19 epidemic, Taiwan’s epidemic alert level was quickly raised to level 3. This necessitated many industries and enterprises to adopt work-from-home programs. However, individuals in the real estate industry, including agents, land administration agents, appraisers, and surveyors, are still required to work on site at their own risk. This is due to local workflow habits and regulatory restrictions that require in-person visits to properties and physical documentation processes.
Despite the availability of VR-based zero-contact property visits, the real estate industry faced challenges in the final contract stage. Due to the severe outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, real estate workers had to risk their health and safety by meeting clients in person for contract signing to keep their business afloat.
The Race for Digital Transition in the Real Estate Industry Has Begun
As we enter a post-pandemic future, the changes in people’s life and work habits during lockdown remain, and the crisis has become a significant driving force for digital transformation. Remote business operations are now the new norm, and the digital transition of the industry is inevitable and will be key to enterprise competitiveness. Furthermore, the Taiwan Ministry of the Interior recently passed an amendment to the Land Registration Regulations, enabling real estate personnel to reduce the risks of exposure to infection and accelerate the digitization and transition of the industry.
Some experts predict a wave of retaliatory consumption after lockdown restrictions are lifted. The competition to master modern practices of the real estate business that are characterized by a freer and more efficient manner has officially begun.
Taiwanese Start-Ups and Industrial Experts in Launch Contract Notary Platform
In such critical times, Snowbridge is committed to safeguarding consumer rights and the safety of real estate personnel, particularly agents and land administration agents, to support the industry in surviving the crisis. Snowbridge, along with two other Taiwanese start-ups, BlockChain Security and Entrance Proptech, and a research team from Feng Chia University led by Professor Simon Chen, have collaborated to launch an online e-contract signing and notary platform based on blockchain technologies. This platform is designed specifically for real estate operations, enabling industry workers to perform remote contracting safely and effectively with notarized documents without taking up physical space. As Taiwan unites to battle the pandemic, free access to the platform will be provided until the end of August to support the industry in overcoming difficulties..
According to Professor Tien-Yin Chou, Dean of the College of Construction at Feng Chia University, the core of smart cities lies in smart governance, and the core of smart intelligence lies in blockchains and smart contracts. Therefore, both public and private sectors should introduce paperless office workflows based on blockchains and smart contracts as soon as possible. He suggests that e-contract is an excellent starting point, and land development and real estate enterprises should start exploring applications to gain advantages.
Digital Transition Must Ensure Regulatory Compliance and Effectiveness of Data
E-contract not only provides online contract signing services but also reduces operating time, paper printing, and storage costs. It effectively replaces physical documents with virtual ones, freeing humans from the constraints of time and space. Additionally, it protects the integrity and immutability of the contracts using blockchain technology, ensuring transaction security and the rights of both the buyer and seller, which can also serve as evidence in case of future disputes. Under the era of Real Estate 2.0, the platform will also serve as permanent evidence for deductions. Switching to e-contracts for remote contracting and document storage will ensure a stable starting point for adapting to the new era.
Snowbridge, BlockChain Security, and Entrance Proptech aim to work with the industry to overcome crises, improve process efficiency, and upgrade to the new norm of digital business with security. Century 21 Real Estate HQ and its franchises, as well as ERA Real Estate, have already introduced the latest technologies for their applications. By doing so, they can swiftly respond even when threatened with unexpected outbreaks, ensuring customer services and company operations proceed as usual and enhancing the competitiveness of the industry.