The real estate industry is adept at adopting new technologies to tailor the homebuying process to the demands of homebuyers.
Real estate agents were among the first users of drone photography, and many are active on social media. Now, real estate agents are embracing the power of live video to make open houses more convenient for homebuyers today.
If you're working with a real estate agent during your homebuying journey, the simplest way to tour a home listing virtually is to ask your agent.
There are numerous tools that agents can use to give you a tour of a home online. Facebook Live and Skype are options that many agents are familiar with. Others, such as Immoviewer and FloorPlanOnline have additional features like shareable tour links and 3D space designers that some agents might find helpful.
If you're not working with an agent yet, it may be worthwhile to reach out to your local agency to connect with someone who would be able to give you a virtual tour of the home you're interested in.
During an in-person open house, you can look at small details as well as the full layout and feel of the property. With a virtual open house, these benefits are more difficult to accomplish.
To make the most of your virtual open house, be sure you ask plenty of questions so you can get as much information as possible.
If there is a particular home feature that you need to know more about, don't hesitate to ask your agent to show you a close-up of it. It can be difficult to assess the dimensions of the room you're viewing through your home computer.
Ask your agent to put things into scale for you. For example, first-time homebuyer Michael Hernandez told The Washington Post that he wanted to make sure the home he was considering in Arlington, Virginia, would have high enough ceilings.
"I was a little concerned that the ceilings would be too low on the upper and lower levels, so I had her reach up to show me the ceiling height during the call," he said.
The video tour is also a good opportunity to ask about major home appliances, like the furnace and water heater. These are essential components of a household, so taking time to view and ask questions about their age and functionality will be well worth it.
Use the video tour to compare how the home looks to the photos included in the listing. Photos can use advantageous lighting and staging to show off the best characteristics of each room, but a video tour may give you a more accurate look at the lighting quality and dimensions of the home.
After your virtual tour, it's time to weigh the pros and cons of the home. Whether you decide the home is a perfect fit, or not quite what you're looking for, let your agent know.
If you decide to make an offer, many of the steps that would traditionally be done in person can be carried out online. Ask your agent what options they offer for these steps of the homebuying process.
In most cases, the homebuying journey begins with getting pre-approved for a loan, which is a process you can begin online at The Federal Savings Bank. If you're ready, start here.