For some, purchasing a new home can be stressful even during the best of times, but add in a global pandemic and navigating the process becomes a whole new challenge. Don’t worry though, with the amazing technology available, buyers and sellers are still making home sales possible, just a little differently, by using virtual home tours in lieu of open houses.
Your REALTOR can use video calling apps such as FaceTime or Zoom on their phone to give you a walk-through of the homes you are interested in. It’s a great option for potential buyers in areas where in-person showings are currently restricted or for those who aren’t comfortable entering someone else’s home right now. During the tour, your REALTOR can virtually guide you through each space, pointing out specific features and answering questions as you go along. This is a far more effective way to get a sense of a property than by simply viewing pictures or an edited video online.
Watching a virtual tour isn’t meant to be like watching a movie, it should be interactive and there are some things you should know and prep for ahead of time. Here’s how to make the most of the virtual home buying experience:
- Have your list of must haves ready. As with any home buying experience, you should always have a list of your wants and needs ready to make the process less overwhelming. Sharing these with your REALTOR can help you to narrow down your search or decide if it’s time to do an in person walkthrough.
- Ask for a floor plan. Trying to understand a home layout while looking at pictures or even during a walkthrough can be hard. If you can get a floor plan of the home, it will be much easier to follow along during the virtual tour and give you a sense of how big each room is.
- Your REALTOR needs to be your eyes, ears, and nose. Noticing details can be very hard to do via video. Your REALTOR will need to be able to pick up on everything they see, hear (noises from the neighbors to odd sounding appliances), to any funky smells. Have them note everything from squeaky floors and doors to pet and basement odors to water stains.
- Details, details, details. Look at everything from where outlets and light switches are to the types of lighting and appliances. Your REALTOR should be able to let you know all this information during their walk through. It might seem silly now to get that granular, but you don’t want to find out after a purchase that a room is only wired for lamps and no overhead lighting. On to 5: Ask as many questions as you’d like.
- Ask questions. Don’t be shy, see something odd or want more details? Make sure you speak up. Your REALTOR will likely offer lots of important information upfront but asking additional questions during the tour can help you create a fuller picture of the property without actually seeing it for yourself.
- Tour the outside too. Yes, you should drive by the house to get an idea yourself, but make sure your REALTOR takes you for a tour of the outdoor space – decks, patios, garages, sheds, etc. You also want to look at the siding, driveway, roof, etc. to see what shape they are in. Also, consider pools and spas and the landscaping and their upkeep.
- Be patient. It’s a challenge for both buyers and sellers right now, especially if you are trying to make a move to another state. Try to remain patient throughout any technical difficulties and know that the tour might take slightly longer than usual since you’ll likely be asking more questions. It might not be a perfectly seamless process, but a virtual tour can provide a safe home tour option for everyone involved.
Video tours exist to enhance the experience of viewing the property online, but it is important to remember that they are a selling tool. They won’t take the place of an actual in person visit, which once you narrowed down your options, you should consider doing since buying a home is a big investment. Make sure you always follow up with a home inspection once you’ve made and had your offer accepted by the homeowner. Need some extra home buying advice, check out our many blogs on the subject: CLICK HERE.
Vice President, Senior Mortgage Lender
NMLS MLO ID: 532621