The advent of the COVID-19 pandemic has brought about significant changes in the real estate industry. Open houses and in-person tours have given way to virtual events and remote home tours as a “new normal.” If you’re looking to buy a home in the Bay Area but are unable to attend physical showings due to restrictions and social distancing measures, a virtual home tour in Bay Area is your best option.
While virtual tours offer the convenience of exploring properties from the comfort of your own home, there are certain details that may not be immediately apparent through a screen. To ensure that you make the most of your virtual showing and gain a comprehensive understanding of the property, it is essential to ask your realtor the right questions.
1. Trust Your Agent’s “Nose”
During a virtual tour, you can evaluate listing photos and video chats to assess various aspects of the property. However, the sense of smell is one detail that may be overlooked. Unpleasant odors can significantly impact your experience of a home. While it may not be possible for you to physically be present to assess the smell of a property, you can rely on your agent to be your “nose” during the tour. Ask them to pay attention to any discouraging smells such as garbage, pet odors, mold, mildew, or cigarette smoke. Conversely, inquire about any odors that do not belong in a home, such as sewage smell, mustiness, or a rotten egg odor. Identifying these smells early on can help you determine if the home is worth further consideration.
2. Age, Maintenance, and Usage of Appliances and Systems
Virtual tours provide close-up views of the appliances and HVAC systems within a home. However, it is crucial to inquire about the age, maintenance history, and usage of these systems. Ask your agent about the age of the appliances, whether they have been recently replaced, and if any are still under warranty. Understanding the condition of these essential components will help you assess their life expectancy and potential maintenance costs. Remember to consider functionality in addition to aesthetics when evaluating appliances, as replacing outdated or malfunctioning units can be expensive.
3. Noise Levels in the Home
Noise levels are another consideration that may not be immediately apparent during a virtual tour. Inquire specifically about any ambient noise, both inside and outside the home. If the property is located on a busy street or near public areas such as restaurants and stores, it is essential to understand the potential noise impact. While the current pandemic has limited our movements outside, it is still important to determine if noise volume may be a concern. Even neighbors’ barking dogs can be a deciding factor if a quiet neighborhood is one of your must-haves.
4. Assessing Worn or Damaged Features
A virtual tour allows you to explore a property in great detail. However, it can be challenging to determine the actual condition of certain features or surfaces through listing photos and videos alone. Don’t hesitate to inquire about any worn or damaged areas that you notice. Ask your agent to provide feedback on these aspects, as they have the advantage of physically visiting the property. Whether it’s cabinets that appear to be freshly painted or surfaces that seem worn, it is essential to gain clarity on the true condition of these elements.
5. Verifying the “View”
If the MLS listing mentions a “view” for the property you are virtually touring, it is crucial to verify this claim. Ask your realtor to open or move aside any curtains or blinds that may be obscuring the view. Sometimes, these window coverings may have been intentionally placed to hide unsightly views that are not immediately apparent in listing photos or videos. By ensuring transparency in this regard, you can make an informed decision about the desirability of the property’s surroundings.
6. Identifying Potential Flaws
While your realtor is not a home inspector, their discerning eyes and years of experience can help identify any make-or-break issues during a virtual tour. They can highlight potential flaws that you should be aware of, especially since you are not physically present to assess the property yourself. Your agent may notice signs of water damage, cracks in the foundation or molding, damage to the roof, or cracks in the ceiling. Understanding these potential issues early on will help you evaluate the property accurately and avoid any surprises down the line.
7. Asking About Community Amenities
In addition to the specifics of the property itself, it is essential to inquire about the amenities available in the community. Ask your realtor about nearby parks, schools, shopping centers, and other recreational facilities. Understanding the neighborhood’s offerings will help you assess if the location aligns with your lifestyle and preferences.
8. Evaluating the Surrounding Neighborhood
While you may not be physically present in the neighborhood during a virtual tour, it is still important to gain insights into the area. Ask your realtor about the neighborhood’s character, the demographics of residents, and any planned developments or improvements. This information will provide a broader context for your decision-making process and help you envision life in the community.
9. Considering Future Growth and Development
As you explore potential Bay Area homes, it is essential to consider future growth and development in the area. Inquire about any planned construction projects, zoning changes, or infrastructure improvements that may impact the property’s value or the overall neighborhood. Understanding the long-term outlook will help you make an informed decision about the property’s suitability for your needs.
10. Trust Your Agent’s Expertise
Throughout the virtual tour process, it is crucial to trust your agent’s judgment and expertise. They have the advantage of firsthand experience and can provide valuable insights into the properties you are considering. Remember that a virtual tour should replicate the experience of an on-site showing as closely as possible. Your realtor is your primary source of information and can answer any questions you may have truthfully and accurately.
In conclusion, virtual home tours have become an essential part of the home-buying process in the Bay Area and beyond. By asking the right questions and relying on your agent’s expertise, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of a property, even if you can’t be physically present. Trust the virtual home tour in the Bay Area process, and with the guidance of your realtor, you’ll be well-equipped to make an informed decision about your future home.