If you are relocating to a new area and don't have the opportunity to see homes in person, this is for you!
Buying a home remotely with the help of showings via FaceTime or Zoom are a reality and can give you a pretty good idea of what the home is like. If this is something you have to do, perhaps because distance is too great to move quickly to see a property in person, then please consider these tips. As a Real Estate Agent who has conducted many showings using these technological tools, I highly suggest the following:
- Ask the agent on the other side to describe the smell. Yes, the smell. Odors in the home can tell a story about the home. I come from a long line of people with a nose for smells, so it's one of the first things I use on a showing, in person or not. Is there a musty or damp smell that could point to moisture damage or mold growth? What about the smell of cigarette smoke, or overwhelming pet odors? People have varying degrees of sensitivity and tolerance to smells, but it needs to be pointed out.
- Go out front, and get a view of the home from all angles, including the neighbors and view of the street. Perhaps the driveway is not as large as it may seem in the professional photos. What is the street parking like? How close together are the homes? Some things may not be an issue for all buyers, but this is about you and what you are comfortable with.
- Look behind the house. How close is the neighbor behind? Is there something behind the property that could be a dealbreaker for you specifically? While some buyers may not have an issue with a gas station behind the home, others may want nothing to do with that. It's all about you and what you are comfortable with.
- These showings should take a lot of time. Usually, a showing in person can be done in as little as 15-30 minutes. I would argue that a virtual showing needs to take at least 45 minutes, if not an hour, depending on the size of the home.
You should be able to see the carpets up close, how big the bathroom is if someone were to stand in it, or even an up close detail of the countertop material if you want. Anything you may take for granted while you're in person needs to be pointed out in detail if you are viewing the property through a screen. And absolutely should involve the senses!
The usual items need to be looked at, like the age/condition of the hot water heater and check to see if the furnace/air conditioning have a service sticker on them as well.