Pre-COVID, it was standard practice to visit a property several times in person and to send a real estate agent before purchasing it. Unfortunately, it is no longer so easy to visit in person due to the chances of spreading COVID-19.
Many agents are now offering the chance to view a property online. This will typically be in one of two ways:
- Static models of the property. These are a bit like Google street view and allow you to explore the property by moving through it with the ability to spin around 360 degrees. This technology is great and will enable you to keep “going back” to check things you forgot to look at. Arguably this is a better way to view a property than a real visit. However, what it lacks is the ability to listen for creaking floorboards, smell the whiff of damp in the air, or tap the walls to determine their strength. The ability to perform these tasks can never be replicated on a mobile phone screen.
- Video tour. A video tour is another popular choice in recent months. In this scenario, the real estate agent will visit the property at a pre-arranged time and perform a video call with you. They will then show you around the property while talking to you in a similar manner to a real viewing. This allows you to point out areas you would like a closer look at.
You may get lucky and even find an agent that offers both mechanisms. This is the best of both worlds as you can prepare a list of areas you would like a closer look at before the live video tour.
In addition to the online viewing, it may still be possible to get your real estate agent to view the property to look for any significant problems that were not visible on the virtual tours. This can give you the added peace of mind required to go ahead with the purchase.