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30 04 2020

Digitisation Push in Condominium Sales?

Necessity is the mother of invention: These days, the corona pandemic and the associated lockdown restrictions have prompted the digitisation of many situations and interactions that used to be done in person, on site. There is more to this than the home office which many employees have been working, and will continue to work, from and the various corporate investments in digital and mobile work amenities. The digitisation push also extends to residential property sales that, rather than being shelved, were able to move ahead because digital solutions were introduced during the phase of strict lockdown constraints.

Apartment viewings, for instance, are increasingly offered in virtual form – examples being video tours or 3D viewings of apartments.1 By offering these options, the industry has responded to the needs among consumers, who increasingly expect digital options such as virtual 3D viewings to be made available during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a Civey poll.2 While these technologies are not exactly new, they are more frequently offered and requested now than they used to be.
 

Calls for Digital Notary Appointments

It is, in any case, safe to assume that digital solutions will continue to play a key role in condominium sales in the time ahead. While increasingly important for apartment viewings, they will also gain prominence in the financing context. At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, the Federal Financial Supervisory Authority (BaFin) permitted the option to guide a surveyor appointed by the financing bank through a given apartment via live video streaming on a smartphone, rather than mandating his or her physical presence.

Unlike apartment viewings, however, the appointment with a notary to sign the deed still requires the personal attendance of the signatories. Some regions have, as an exception in response to the coronavirus pandemic, waived the requirement that the parties to the contract must personally appear before the notary. But they still require the physical presence of agents representing either side at the notary’s.
 

Coronavirus Pandemic Speeding up Digitisation

In response, the IVD Federal Investment and Asset Management Association and the Immoscout real estate portal have demanded the option of digital notary appointments.3 Indeed, they argue that the need to modernise the structure of notary appointments goes beyond vicissitudes of the coronavirus pandemic. It would by all means be feasible today to conduct digital notary appointments in a legally secure manner, according to IVD and Immoscout. But whether or not the digital notary appointment will soon become reality is anybody’s guess.

That being said, the coronavirus pandemic is very likely to act as a “digitisation accelerator” for the real estate industry in general, as the estate agency Savills already predicted in the early days of the social distancing restrictions.4 Savills argues that the pandemic is forcing people to intensify the use of existing digital solutions. This will expedite the ongoing change in the wake of digitisation, or so they suggest.
 

1 www.haufe.de/immobilien/wirtschaft-politik/coronavirus-kontaktsperren-treffen-makler-im-kerngeschaeft_84342_512596.html
2 www.haufe.de/immobilien/wirtschaft-politik/auswirkungen-der-corona-krise-auf-den-immobilienmarkt_84342_512542.html
3 www.welt.de/finanzen/immobilien/article207154645/Wohnungsmarkt-in-der-Corona-Krise-Der-kontaktlose-Immobilienkauf.html
4 www.savills.de/research_articles/260049/297185-0/covid-19-und-die-folgen