When searching for a home, buyers used to have three options. They could search the classified section, drive around neighborhoods looking for sale signs, or enlist a realtor to find available properties.

However, these methods were time-consuming and often produced high failure rates — in part because sellers and their agents were likely to highlight a home’s positives and downplay any negative features.

“But now, homebuyers have so many new ways to search for their perfect home,” says Jerry Clum, founder and CEO at Hommati.com, a searchable real-estate website that uses technology to help agents promote their listings to potential buyers. “Technology has dramatically changed the home-search process and has made it more informative, visual, enjoyable and convenient.”

In fact, he says that 93% of buyers browse the internet when looking for homes. “Millennials are even higher at 98%, and thanks to new technology, online searches will continue to be the primary method of finding a home.”

HD photography

Buyers have come to expect quality photography instead of amateur photos that are blurry or distorted and shot in low light settings. If the photos are dreadful, Clum says the house won’t stand out, and is not likely to generate much traffic. “With high definition (HD) photography, home sellers are able to present their homes beautifully, and homebuyers see the difference,” he says.

Aerial videos

Drones have also been a game changer in the house-hunting process. “With the development of drones and the advancement of digital cameras, aerial video has entered the homebuying market in a big way,” says Wendy Emery, franchise support manager at Hommati.com. “Aerial drone videos have become sophisticated, with dramatic sweeping views and music that ties everything together just like a feature film.”

The advantage of aerial video is that it allows buyers to see the home’s exterior from a different perspective. “Buyers have a bird’s-eye view of the property and they can see everything: the size of the lot, how the home is situated on the lot, how close the neighboring homes are — things you just can’t see in static photography,” Emery says.

3D tours

Technology can also provide a better view of the interior through the use of 3D tours. “Imagine walking through a home, going into each room, looking at the floors, the ceilings, walking upstairs, and doing all of these things even when you are 3,000 miles away from that home,” Emery says. Whether you’re sitting at your desk, lounging on the sofa, or a passenger in a vehicle, you can tour the home at any time, on any of your electronic devices.

“A special camera is used to scan the interior spaces in a home to create a 3D model of the entire home,” Emery explains. “The end result is an online experience that puts the buyer inside the home without physically being there, so you can move throughout the space as you wish, look in any direction and zoom in to check out the smallest details.”

And 3D tours provide another convenience. “Many home buyers are requesting the room dimensions of a home before making an offer,” Clum says. For example, they want to make sure their furniture will fit in the new space. “Typically, the agent or the buyer is running around the homes with a tape measure, writing all the measurements down,” he explains. However, a 3D scan of the home automatically generates a schematic floor plan. And Clum says all of the rooms are drawn out and all of the room dimensions are included.

Virtual reality

However, sometimes, you don’t even need to use a mouse or keystrokes to navigate the home’s layout. “Add a virtual reality (VR) headset with an app, and the 3D tour becomes fully immersive — filling your entire peripheral vision and making it feel like you can reach out and touch the furniture,” Clum says.

Virtual staging

Clum has an aversion to looking at pictures of vacant homes and compares it to going to an art gallery filled with unpainted canvasses. “Virtual staging is now being used to ‘digitally stage’ homes with furniture, décor, paintings, curtains and rugs,” he explains. The technology is so advanced that it can even add a warm, toasty fire in the fireplace.

“Virtual staging combines the tech of digital imagery with the creative talent of a graphic designer,” Clum says. So, how does this work? “The designer selects the furnishings and arranges them, so the space appears real,” he says. “They identify the light source in the room and place the appropriate shadows on the walls and floors where the digitally staged furniture would have cast those shadows if the furniture’s actually present.”

Digital agents

Technology is also being used in the real estate industry to provide personalization and convenience in another way. “AR is helping to introduce buyers to the real estate agent who has the home listed,” Emery says. For example, you can use the Hommati app to create a digital clone of the actual listing agent. “The ‘digital agent’ stands in front of their listings and introduces themselves to potential buyers,” she explains.