A year ago, buying a home without setting foot inside seemed risky. Today, it’s the safest option.
Virtual home tours have been around for a little while, but 2020 has seen them surge in popularity with the coronavirus pandemic putting a screeching halt on in-person showings. Though it’s certainly helped buyers and sellers connect amidst extenuating circumstances, touring a home through a video means that buyers have to be extremely diligent in asking questions and getting information from the seller’s team.
It can be tough to observe the finer details of a house through a screen. Architecture and style can be seen from advertisements, but smaller details that might otherwise catch the eye can escape the lens of a phone camera. A trusting relationship with your agent is the basis of any successful transaction, but an agent can’t tell you what you need to know without the right questions being asked. Here are some questions to ask before, during, and after your tour.
Before the Tour
Is there reliable cell service at the property? If not, tell your agent what you’re looking for, and have them record a video walkthrough of the house or apartment.
Is there a floorplan that can be referenced? Following along with a floorplan, blueprint, or 3D model of the house can help piece the rest of the tour together.
Can you take more photos? Pictures of a vacant unit are one thing, but pictures that aren’t staged or taken right after a deep clean are more valuable. Consider asking your agent to take pictures as they go along.
During the Tour
Are there any surfaces/structures that look worn, cracked, or need to be replaced? Knowing ahead of time whether you’ll need to do any sort of renovation, no matter how minor, is always something to consider when purchasing. Make sure to note any spot that may concern you.
How old are the appliances? Though it can usually be seen through listing pictures, getting a real-time feel for the appliances and fixtures in the kitchen is not something to be skipped over just because you’re not in the house. If they’re old or in disrepair, you may want to ask for them to be replaced.
Can you show me the window views? It’s always a good idea to take a panoramic shot from the outward-facing view of any big windows in the house. Knowing how the natural light moves through the house is key to picking a space with the right feel.
What is the neighborhood noise like? Depending on how close your home is to those of your neighbors, you might hear outside noise even through your own walls. Ask your agent to make a note of the noise level on the street and inside of the house and discuss.
How’s the water pressure? Often overlooked until the faucet runs dry, water pressure can be a much bigger problem than expected. Ask your agent to turn on the shower and sink to get a sense of the flow throughout the house.
Do you notice any odors on the property? Though it could be completely harmless (or coming from the current tenant), asking your agent to keep their nose peeled for strange smells might just save you in the long run.
After the Tour
Can you tell me more about the neighborhood? After seeing the property in person, your real estate agent will be able to tell you more information about the street, block, and neighborhood at large.
Did anything look vastly different in-person? Getting a sense of the accuracy of the listing photos can influence your faith in the information you’ve already been given. Be sure to verify anything that seems off.
Did you notice anything concerning? Asking your real estate agent for their honest opinion of the property means trusting trained eyes that have already been on the inside. If your agent comes back with something of note, it’s best to dig deeper.
Touring a home through FaceTime can be a bit daunting, but with these key questions, you'll cover all of the bases!