Virtual Tours- Are They a Good Idea?

Over the last month there have been many changes to the way that we live our daily lives. Families have changed their activities, businesses have closed or changed the way that they serve consumers and we are practicing social distancing and health safety recommendations. Regarding real estate, you may be wondering if buyers and agents are out looking at houses at this time….the answer is yes, but to differing degrees! Nothing is the same as it was before COVID-19, yet agents and buyers are finding a way to view homes and make offers in safe ways.

One option for people looking to buy a home right now is a virtual tour. You may have actually heard or read about this over the last few weeks as a new option for home buyers. All though we may be doing more virtual tours right now, they are not new. People have been looking to realtors to give them virtual tours of properties for years now. In 2015 I sold a property to a student physician who was moving to St. Louis to do her residency. At the time we used FaceTime to view the home. Even my husband happened to be a part of that event as he came with me for the second “showing” to hold the phone while I played Vanna White! They ended up buying the house, living in it for 4 years, and we just sold it when they left the area in 2019. We as a people are very mobile, and it’s not uncommon for individuals to move to new locations across the country for their careers. If you’re moving across the country, you may not be able to visit multiple homes until you find the right one.

Some listed homes will have a video tour that you can watch online. If not, I’m happy to don my mask and go to the home and FaceTime or create a video for you!

Is it wise to buy a home without ever stepping foot inside? This is a question I’ve heard lately, and the answer is, there’s nothing like an onsite tour for you to really get a feel for the home. However, as you can tell from my story above, the virtual tour CAN work! This may sound crazy, but I even bought my first home in Missouri sight unseen. At that time, we didn’t have FaceTime, but my husband was in St. Louis and he was able to verbally talk me through the online pictures of the final two contenders before we finally decided to make an offer on one.

What about underlying problems in the home? Do those get missed if you do the tour virtually? The answer to that question is yes, something could get missed, but those things could get missed during an onsite tour as well. Many of those underlying problems aren’t things that we could see on a tour. That is why it’s important for all home buyers to have the home inspected. And fear not, home inspections are still happening (AND, they are making sure everything is wiped down and clean before they leave the home)! An inspection will help you feel more comfortable purchasing a home without ever stepping foot in it. And as I said earlier….people have been doing this for a while now, well before stay-at-home orders ever existed.

All that being said, live, in-person tours are still being done as well, using extra precautions. Some people are choosing to do virtual initial tours and when they find the one they think is the home for them, they schedule a visit. There are lots of options. And people are still selling their homes, I have had several listings over the last month and a few of them have sold in under a week. If you are thinking of buying or selling and you’re not sure if this would be a good time, let me know. For sellers, I’m also happy to watch a virtual tour of your own house to let you know what needs to be done for listing. We can talk through your options and about the current real estate market, which is ever changing. I’m here to help!

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