On the hunt for your perfect home? The good news is, despite COVID-19, the real estate market is buzzing. Fortunately, vaccine distribution has started and if you have taken the right precautions, then the pandemic won’t slow down your search for the right home.
The real estate industry along with its support services like law offices, movers, lenders, land registry offices etc. are considered essential services, which means they are operating during this time.
However, the industry isn’t operating in the same way; social distancing measures have prompted the industry to adapt by leveraging technology and implementing other safety measures.
Here are 5 tips for buying your dream home virtually:
There are two types of open houses that you can attend to virtually tour a home:
A) Live and interactive – These can be hosted by a real estate agent on a video conferencing platform like Facebook Live, Google Hangouts, etc. The agent will use their smartphone or other device to virtually tour you through the home. This type of open house allows for potential homebuyers to ask questions about the house in real-time.
B) Static video– The real estate agent can pre-record a video tour of the home and homebuyers can watch the video on their own time.
Since you’re not touring the home in-person, make sure to ask your real estate agent questions about the home features that are difficult to glean through a virtual tour.
Here is a checklist for some questions you should ask:
- How noisy is the neighbourhood?
- How old is the roof?
- What condition is the furnace in?
Asking these questions upfront has the potential to save you a lot of money or prevent you from choosing the wrong home for your lifestyle and needs.
The floorplan of the property is a visual tool to help you understand the layout of the home. Where are the bedrooms located? How large is the kitchen? This can help you determine if the layout will be functional for you and your family. If you can’t see the house in person, the floorplan is another aid to help you understand if the dimensions of the rooms will accommodate your existing furniture.
There are plenty of hidden issues that could come up in the home inspection that may be missed during a virtual open house. While home inspections are advisable normally, if you cannot tour the home in person at an open house, then a home inspection is critical to capturing any red flags that may be missed through a virtual tour.
A home inspector may uncover costly issues regarding the home. Whether it’s critters in the attic, structural issues with the home, or a roof that needs replacing, you’ll want to know about these problems before purchasing the home.
While you can’t enter the home in-person, that doesn’t mean you can’t drive by or even walk around the neighbourhood. Observe the home’s exterior including the driveway, landscaping, garden, direction of the windows, etc. This can help you evaluate the state of the home (at least from the outside), to make a more informed decision. There could be signs that you’ll have to make repairs to the home and other investments in the future.
This can also help you get a better feel for the neighborhood and whether it fits with your lifestyle. What amenities are in the area? Is there a lot of traffic and noise? Are there school and parks within walking distance?
The real estate industry has been relying on different forms of technology to safely support homebuyers and sellers during these unprecedented times. One way to ensure a contactless homebuying process is by using electronic signature (e-signature) technology. When you want to put an offer on a house, you can sign the documents from the comfort of your home with an e-signature. A couple of e-signature tools include DocuSign or HelloSign. Your real estate agent will be able to walk you through how to use e-signatures.
Private Showing During COVID-19
If you decide you want a private showing of the home arranged by your real estate agent, depending on where you live, here’s what you can expect:
- Homebuyers will need to wear a face mask and frequently use hand sanitizer.
- Homebuyers at the private showing could be limited. Decide who really needs to be there in person to see the home.
- Homebuyers may need to book a very defined time slot to tour the home in order to limit the number of people in the space.
- Homebuyers may be restricted from touching any surfaces; your real estate agent will turn on/off any light switches and open/close all doors as you’re touring the space.
Finding your dream home during a pandemic is still a possibility. If you’re touring homes virtually, ensure you use these tips to navigate the process effectively and review your mortgage life insurance options.