Are you seriously considering buying a home even if there’s a pandemic? You should know that based on a 2020 survey by the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 64% of real estate agents had clients who stopped holding open houses, while 29% had clients who disallowed in-person home tours. This means that a large percentage of available houses today are closed for showing. Now, what to do?
With many people still following stay-at-home orders, in-person home viewing has been replaced by virtual home tours. The NAR survey also revealed that 38% of home sellers relied on virtual tours.
You can book an appointment to see a house in person. But with many houses closed for showing, it would take months before you can see a prospective home in person. With virtual tours, you can see houses right away.
Virtual home tours can also help you save time and money. You don’t have to spend an entire day driving from one house to another to tour them. You don’t have to spend money on gas and food — of course, you’ll get hungry after all the driving and walking. Instead, you can explore a new home from the comfort of your living room and in a fraction of the time.
To sum this all up, virtual touring is a logical and responsible way of checking out a house before purchasing it — logical because of the travel restrictions and minimal availability of houses for sale, and responsible because it can keep you and your agent safe against the risk of the coronavirus.
If you’re still in doubt, though, here’s how you can navigate a home virtually and get the best deal out of it.
Understand the Different Forms of Virtual Tours
Real estate agents offer one or a combination of different types of virtual tours. There are high-quality photos, high-definition videos, virtual reality experiences, 3D walkthroughs, 3D floor plans, and 360 virtual tours. And while there are many offerings, you have to be diligent with some of them but must scrutinize all of them.
Create a List of What You’d Like to See in a House
Before your viewing, create a list of what you’d like to see in a home. It could be a kitchen island, a laundry room, a double landing, or anything that you need and want to have in your home. This can help you narrow down your list and decide on a house, especially if you’re a first-time homebuyer.
Your list can also include your preferences for a layout or want for more cosmetic features such as countertop material or stained-glass on the front door, for example.
Scrutinize Every Corner
Another advantage of a virtual tour is that you can zoom in on nooks and crannies. You can inspect every corner. You can’t do this during in-person viewing. Your agent will show you from room to room, with little time left to see the little details.
When viewing, take note of the areas and rooms that aren’t shown to you as well. For example, if there are more photos, videos, or shots of bedrooms, but none of the basement or only a few of the kitchen, pay attention. There could be something wrong with those rooms, and that’s why only a few or none of them are shown. Take note of this and ask your agent about it after the viewing. Or ask for more photos, videos, or other visuals.
Get the Right Information
Aside from getting your hands on a home’s floor plan, request all the information about the property. According to Money Magazine, you can dig into a property’s disclosure statement. It is a legal document required from a seller. It should disclose all strengths and flaws of a house. Check with your agent if this statement is allowed in your state, though.
Let Google Maps Help You
Unfortunately, virtual tours don’t include views of the street and neighborhood. Use Google Map’s street view to see these details. It’s like driving or walking down a block and seeing your entire neighborhood right in front of you.
Before You Make Any Decisions
After the viewing, make sure to ask questions. Use your list and notes. Ask for more details and information if necessary. And if all goes well, don’t decide yet. Request for a home inspection first to help you uncover any major problem in the house. A seller will not hesitate to have a home inspection if there are no issues.
Let Your Agent Help You
One downside of virtual tours is that you can’t use your nose and ears to inspect a house. Let your agent help you in this dilemma. Don’t be embarrassed to ask. You are, anyway, making a huge investment in this purchase.
Next time you’ll take a virtual tour of a house, consider the tips above. You could be signing a contract soon and getting the keys to your new house if you do.