There is no denying that the springtime is usually a hot season for house hunting. With that being said, you’ve probably been planning the home buying process for quite some time now.

Fast forward to the exciting part of finally being able to search for your dream home, except now, social distancing and shelter in place orders are the new normal. However, this should not foil your plans. There are still alternatives to house hunting in these uncertain times.

Step one: the listing

An online listing of a home can only show so much. Your agent should be able to dissect a listing for you, but here are a few red flags you should look out for:

  • The number of exterior photos outweigh the number of interior photos. This could mean that the inside of the home may need some work.
  • Not always, but closed curtains and blinds could be concealing a less than attractive view.
  • If the bathroom photos do not show the bathroom as a whole and only isolated parts of the bathroom, (i.e. just the sink or shower) they may be hiding a cramped or small bathroom.
  • If the photos are obviously stretched out, the seller is probably trying to make the home appear larger than it is.
  • Watch out for terms such as “cozy and “quaint”. This usually means the home is smaller than the seller would like to admit.

Step two: virtual tours

Now comes the fun part, touring the home! You may think that you won’t be able to get the same impact from touring the home virtually, but you would be surprised. Technology has come a long way and there are many options available that are considered the next best thing.

Many agents are utilizing Facetime calls to show their customers a property. This is a great option because they can get real time answers from their agent while they are physically at the home. The agent can even provide close ups of some of the home features a prerecorded video or virtual tour may not include.

Another option to view a home virtually would be to check if the listing offers a 3D tour. For example, S&D Real Estate Services uses Matterport technology where you can virtually walk through the home on your computer or phone. This provides all angles of the home from ceiling to floor and can even show you the measurements of the rooms.  

Step three: disclosures

So now you’ve found a home you can picture your family in. This is the step in the home buying process where you should ask to read the seller’s disclosure.

Here, you will find any known issues and problems with the home that the seller is legally supposed to disclose. This will also include the age of various structures and features.

Some issues may be small enough to work into the final agreement, but some problems such as a roof needing to be replaced may have you thinking twice.

Step four: the final step

After ruling out any possible downsides, you are probably itching to see this home in person. Make sure that you are absolutely positive this could be the one, because there is some risk involved in viewing a property in person.

Some cities and states may even prohibit you from conducting an in-person home tour. Furthermore, a seller can also decide if they choose to have others entering their home or not.

If these situations do not apply to the home you wish to view, then remember to follow the CDC guidelines even before you enter the home. Sanitize before and after entering, wear a mask, gloves, and protective booties, do not touch anything in the home, and stay 6 feet away from all persons.

Finally, the most important piece of advice we can offer is to trust your agent. They are on your side and have your best interest at heart. If they see red flags in a property you are interested in, believe them. Many agents have helped their clients through the virtual home buying process before, even prior to COVID-19. However, your gut instinct should also be able to tell you if a home is the one or not.