Renting or Buying? Here’s How to Safely Tour Real Estate During Coronavirus
Updated: May 8, 2020
1. Hire a knowledgeable and informed Realtor The best thing you can do as a buyer during the Coronavirus pandemic is to hire a trustworthy Realtor who can advise you on the current situation in your local community. The buyer’s agent should be aware of all orders and restrictions happening in your area and should have a thorough understanding of how that impacts the buying and selling process. In addition, a reputable Realtor should be able to streamline the process for you, so that you don’t have to worry about paperwork, showings, appraisals and inspections. When hiring a Realtor, be sure to ask them these three questions: 1) Are they are able and willing to tour real estate for you?; 2) Do they know how to harness technology to carry out showings (i.e. Zoom or FaceTime)?; and 3) Are they following all Covid-19 best practices (i.e. washing hands, wearing masks and following orders from community leaders)?
2.Browse real estate online via real estate marketplaces Before asking your Realtor to conduct virtual tours of multiple homes, narrow down your housing search online. Thanks to a number of online real estate marketplaces, you can now find properties right on your computer. These listings should have descriptions, photos and possibly 3-D tours where buyers can virtually navigate through the house to see rooms and details up close and personal.
3. Have your Realtor perform a live, virtual walk-through of the home With Coronavirus precautions in place you may not be able to physically walk through a home with your agent. If this is the case, then we recommend asking your Realtor to give you a live virtual tour of the property. With a virtual tour, a real estate agent will walk through the home with a video camera, allowing buyers to see and experience the home without having to be there in-person. Unlike a pre-recorded virtual tour, a live walk-through showing lets buyers interact and ask questions throughout the tour. Realtors can use FaceTime, Zoom or Skype to perform live tours. According to the National Association of Realtors, other tools that can be used for 3-D interactive property scans include Matterport, Cupix and EyeSpy360.
4. Explore the neighborhood by foot or in the car Interested in a property? If your local community has lifted its “shelter in place” order, and it is possible to walk outside while maintaining social distancing guidelines, then consider exploring the neighborhood and/or street by foot. If walking through the neighborhood isn’t an option, we recommend conducting an in-person driving tour of the street that you’re interested in.
5. Get pre-qualified for a home Given the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic, sellers may be hesitant to allow buyers and agents inside their homes – especially if the seller is currently living on the property. At the very least, sellers will likely only allow pre-qualified buyers to tour the home (or their agents). If you are a serious buyer, then we recommend obtaining a mortgage pre-approval letter before asking for tours. A pre-approval letter from a lender shows the seller that you are serious about buying a home.