House Hunting During the Pandemic? Here Are Your Do’s and Don’ts for Virtual Home Tours
1 of 8Courtesy of Opendoor
House Hunting During the Pandemic
The novel coronavirus has put a hold on many things, but one thing is still on the move: the housing market.
Maybe spending so much time at home has inspired you to look for your next place, or maybe it was already in the cards for your family before the virus arrived. Either way, house hunting during a pandemic requires a different approach for your safety.
Opendoor has been offering virtual home tours for the safety of their agents and buyers, and their Consumer Trends Expert Beatrice de Jong shared her tips for the do’s and don’ts of your virtual tours.
2 of 8Sara Ligorria-Tramp, courtesy of EHD
Do: Ask Detailed Questions About Layout and Space
Since you aren’t viewing the space with your own eyes, de Jong recommends asking detailed questions to get a better idea of the space. “How many people can fit inside the bathroom? How close together are the bedrooms? By asking questions about the distance from each bedroom, and how many people could fit in certain rooms at the same time, a buyer will be able to get a better sense of the layout,” she says.
“For bedrooms, ask what size beds—twin, queen, California king, etc.—will fit in the room,” says de Jong. “This will help you visualize how much furniture you can fit inside the room.”
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3 of 8Sara Ligorria-Tramp, courtesy of Julia Rose for EHD
Don’t: Judge a Room by Its Paint
“Don’t judge a room by its paint; chipped paint is easy to fix,” says de Jong. “Instead, focus on seeing structural stuff, such as the home’s foundation, wires, and appliances.”
Repainting is one of the easiest tasks you can do in a new home, and there’s tons of fun ways to take advantage of paint, like this eye-catching wall effect.
4 of 8Sara Ligorria-Tramp, courtesy of EHD
Do: Ask About Windows, Insulation, and Repairs—Even Smells
There are a lot of little things you might notice in person, that you now need to ask about during a video tour. Don’t be afraid to ask for demonstrations, either. “Ask to see windows and to make sure they open (this is especially important with older homes) and make requests to turn on faucets to get a sense of the water pressure, flip on flights, and flush the toilets,” says de Jong. “It’s also a good idea to get a look underneath sinks, where there may be mold or water damage from leaks.”
Even smells are worth asking about. “Are there any odd smells or signs of poor workmanship? A buyer should be candid with their agent and ask questions about things they won’t be able to know through video, like if there are any smells or non-obvious flaws,” says de Jong.
5 of 8Thomas J. Story
Don’t: Forget to Take a Tour Outside
It’s easy to get caught up on the inside of the house, but the outside is just as important. “Don’t forget to get a view of the exterior: the front lawn, backyard, how many cars can fit in the garage, and surrounding area on the street,” says de Jong.
6 of 8Courtesy of owner
Do: Ask About the Neighborhood (And Do a Digital Drive-By)
While you might be able to do a socially distanced drive-by by staying in your car, there’s an even easier way to take a peek at a potential future neighborhood from home. “‘Drive’ the area by using Google street view,” says de Jong. “This is a great way to see a home’s surrounding area. Make note of any previous damage from fires or floods, along with fences, shared driveways, and how nearby homes are positioned.”
She also recommends asking the agent about the neighborhood, too. “Ask for feedback about the street the home is on, the neighborhood, and the local community. It’s helpful to know if the area is home to couples, families, or students, depending on what you’re looking for.”
7 of 8Amber Thrane
Don’t Wait Too Long
While it feels like the world is on pause right now, it turns out the housing market isn’t. “Don’t wait too long to schedule a tour,” warns de Jong. “Homes are still moving quickly on the market, and postponing a tour may mean missing out on your chance to buy.”
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Do Ask for a Video After
If you like the property, you’ll want to see it again and again as you consider your decision, the same way you’d review photos taken during an in-person tour. “Ask the agent to record a video of the home after the tour,” says de Jong. “You’ll likely think about the home hours after leaving and wonder what your future home could be like. Having a simple cell phone video can help you revisit the home and help your decision.”
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