It’s becoming more and more common to do most or all of your home search without actually stepping foot into a home other than your own.
Here are our top three tips to help a virtual search go smoothly and be just as satisfying as physically exploring the possibilities.
1 – Understand listings
If a home is labeled “pending,” does that mean it’s sold? Should you care how many days a home has been on the market? Why is the HOA fee $0?
There are a lot of details available on a home listing. If you’re looking virtually, you’ll want to go beyond the photos, list price, and number of bedrooms and bathrooms. You may discover something you want to ask your agent about or something that tells you the home isn’t right for you.
Our handy Anatomy of a Home Listing can help! Give it a peek and discover how to read home listings like a pro.
2 – Take advantage of different formats
Be sure to notice if a home’s listing has a link for a 3D tour—you’ll find them fairly often! These are set up by the seller’s agent working with a company that specializes in capturing a home so that you can explore it through detailed pictures from various angles.
You’re in control of the tour, clicking to see details more closely and move between rooms, up stairs, and often even outside.
A 3D tour is great for feeling almost as if you’re in the home. You’ll get a sense of the size of each room, the views, and more.
Live virtual tour
Some real estate brokerages, including Flyhomes, will send an agent to a home you’re interested in for a live video call with you.
This way, you can get a sense of the entire space and ask to get a good look at the details you care most about.
Just like with a 3D tour, you’re in control … and now you have someone in the home who can help you take a personalized look.
Pre-recorded virtual tour
A virtual tour that’s been recorded is similar to a live virtual tour in that a real person will show you around and likely give commentary about what they see, but you won’t be in control of exactly what you look at.
While this kind of virtual tour isn’t as personalized as a live one, it’s still a useful tool to get a look at a home you’re interested in. You’ll generally be able to tell if the home is one you want to take a next step with or if it just isn’t the one for you.
If it’s not mentioned in the listing, ask your agent if a tour is available or could be recorded for you.
Virtual open house
A virtual open house will be scheduled for a certain time when an agent will be in the home. You’ll be able to join them (and other interested homebuyers) in a video conference.
You’ll get to see the home and ask questions. The agent is likely the seller’s agent and will have information about the home.
This can be a fantastic way to get a personalized look around, just like with a live virtual tour. Flyhomes clients Roy and Larry were able to sell their home in less than a week using a virtual open house to show it!
Check for virtual open houses on listings and ask your agent if they know about any coming up for homes that might match what you’re looking for. They’ll generally be scheduled for weekends.
3 – Look for red flags
While you’re spending time looking carefully at listings and touring virtually, keep your eye out for signals that might tell you a home isn’t exactly what it appears to be.
Here are a few signals that you should pay attention to.
- No interior photos. If you only see photos of the exterior, the inside probably needs a lot of work. The same is true if you see no exterior photos, but generally an exterior is less costly to fix up.
- No views out the windows. If the curtains are closed in every photo, the view probably leaves something to be desired.
- Not seeing the full bathroom. If a bathroom photo focuses only on the sink or shower, chances are the rest of it is either very tiny or very much in need of work.
- Stretched out or fisheye photos. This usually means that the room is very small.
- The sellers haven’t lived there long. You can see a home’s sale history on its listing and should question why someone is selling the home if they’ve only owned it for a short time. This may not be an issue, but it’s worth looking into.
- A list price that seems way too low. Once you’re used to the prices in a particular area, trust your gut and talk to your agent if a price seems too good to be true.
Looking for a new home is exciting! Enjoy the journey, even if it all happens without leaving your sofa.