SERIES: Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus II
Stephens Real Estate is here to help you navigate this confusing time in real estate. We are sharing portions of the national realtor.com series, "Home Buying in the Age of Coronavirus," and adding local details specific to the Lawrence market.
How to Conduct a Virtual House Hunt
This season of the year is usually the busiest time in the housing market. You may have planned to search for a new home right about now, but the coronavirus pandemic probably has you worried about how to safely check out homes without risking infection. So, let’s talk about how to conduct a virtual house hunt and how to protect yourself if you do visit a home in person.
Stephens Real Estate broker Chris Earl says, "Online listings usually have enough photos to help you decide if you’re interested in taking a closer look at a home. Discuss your list of wishes - and things to avoid - with your agent. They can help you dig-in to the details of an online listing and develop a plan for looking closer if you really want.”
The real estate industry has adapted quickly to the coronavirus outbreak, with many agents adding video tours to their listing photos. “While not new to our market, virtual tours, video walk-throughs, and 3D tours have become very popular this year,” says Stephens marketing coordinator Lisa Stofac. “The Lawrence Home Builders Association even conducted a Virtual Spring Parade of Homes this year with all 17 of its new construction homes being available to tour 24 hours a day, 7 days a week by means of 3D tours.”
Agents may do FaceTime walk-throughs of a home to share features and look closely at details. While on this type of walk-through you can ask your agent to show you nooks and crannies and uncover any blind spots not available in photos or virtual tours.
To get the most out of a virtual tour, buyers should ask their agent specifics about the home. “Some of our virtual tours even have a chat function built in so you can talk directly with the agent – while you’re viewing the tour,” says Lisa Stofac. “You can ask about little details like finishes, light fixtures, or appliances – things that may be difficult to see from the photos or video.”
If you like a home from the photos and the virtual tour, ask your agent for the seller’s disclosure. This should outline any known problems with the home's structure, as well as the age of various features and any improvements. "The seller’s disclosure may reveal things about the house that help a buyer decide whether to make an offer or keep looking," says Chris Earl. "Buyers can always discuss concerns or questions with their Stephens agent."
The surrounding neighborhood is just as important as the house itself. So do a virtual deep dive on Google Earth to see if the home you're interested in is near schools, shopping centers, restaurants, and parks. Or drive by and take a look without getting out of your car. Seeing a home’s exterior and the neighborhood may determine if you want to look inside.
If you are interested in a closer look your agent can ask the seller's agent if in-person showings are allowed.
These days showings are being handled on a case-by-case basis determined by the comfort levels of sellers, buyers, and agents. When viewing homes your agent is advised to use precautionary measures, such as: following social distancing guidelines, driving to showings in separate cars, checking temperatures, and setting showing expectations. The use of gloves, masks, shoe covers, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting wipes is also recommended. Chris Earl says, “Stephens agents are striving to protect themselves and their clients while making every effort to accommodate a buyer’s wish to view a property.”
Portions of content from realtor.com, written by Margaret Heidenry