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How to Buy a Home "Virtually"

For the past few months, the way homes are bought and sold, has transformed due to social distancing restrictions. 

Virtual home tours have been around for years. However, their use has not been widespread. In the face of COVID-19, Buyers having a difficult time visiting listed properties in person are now turning to “Virtual Viewings.” 

In fact, according to a recent survey by the Ontario Real Estate Association (OREA), 42% of homebuyers are now open or “somewhat open” to purchasing a home “Virtually.” People are ok buying a home while only being able to view it electronically.

businessmen hold house model in hand

What is a Virtual Inspections

The virtual inspection method is quick, easy and safe. It allows an interactive video inspection performed by the Realtor without person-to-person contact. The buyers on the receiving end of the video can view the property from the comfort of their own home. 

How are Virtual Inspections Conducted During COVID-19

These days, there has been an increase in “Virtual Tours” with MLS Listings because of the reduction in activities that involve in-person contact. These Virtual Tours use 3D models, allowing homebuyers to use their mouse or keyboard to walk through and navigate the property at their own pace. Homebuyers can view every room of the property from a range of angles.

Another way is through a LIVE viewing. The inspection proceeds with the Realtor taking the buyer on a digital walkthrough or tour of the property. Showing the property via a smartphone or tablet and taking questions in real-time. This is similar to the Realtors taking buyers through a property in person.

Some Realtors even have virtual open houses live-streaming properties on platforms such as Facebook LIVE, Instagram LIVE, YouTube and Vimeo.

What To Look For In A Virtual Inspection

When you’re viewing at a property in person, there are elements you’re already on the lookout for. Thus, inspect what you would typically inspect.  

  • Opportunities to renovate
  • Storage space
  • Outdoor space
  • Practical or convenient layout

There’s no doubt that digital workarounds are gaining traction. This traction is not limited to Realtors. COVID-19 has created hurdles for most industries, and the mortgage industry is no exception. 

The way brokers are conducting their business has also altered. Applying for, qualifying and securing financing has long been available digitally. However, there has been an increased use of technology amongst brokers. Many brokers who have a branded Canadian Mortgage App now encourage their clients to apply directly from the Broker’s app. Mortgage brokers no longer need to meet with clients face to face. Instead, Virtual meetings via Zoom, FaceTime or other platforms are being encouraged. 

Due to the pandemic, more mortgage companies are adjusting their services to specialize in end-to-end digital mortgages. Allowing them and their clients to weather the COVID-19 disruptions with relative ease.

There will be continuous changes in the way we interact as we enter into phase 2 of reopening. For those still taking precautions during this pandemic, Virtual tours are available. However, some Realtors have developed questionnaires to determine a client’s risk levels. Clients are now asked to wear a mask and gloves. Not to linger around the house longer than they probably should and don’t sit on the furniture or touch any surfaces. These are the minor requests home buyers can expect as everyone is working hard to keep each other safe. 

Making the biggest purchase of your life during a pandemic may not work for everyone. However, thanks to modern technology, it is still possible to find, tour, finance, and close on a home virtually anywhere in the country.

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