How Buyers Can Make the Most of a Virtual Home Tour

During the coronavirus outbreak, virtual open houses and tours have been a powerful way for homebuyers to continue pursuing their biggest real estate goals — without having to leave the comfort and safety of home. As in person open houses and showings start to ramp back up in Chicagoland, many buyers will continue to use virtual open houses and tours as a way to be efficient and stay safe as they look for a new home. 

For many buyers, virtual tours and open houses are a great way to discover properties that you can then see in person, following all safety protocols set down by state and federal health officials. 

In other cases, buyers have found and purchased properties based entirely on their virtual experiences. A survey from the National Association of REALTORS® (NAR), for example, found that a quarter of REALTORS® reported that their clients put contracts on homes “without seeing the property in person” during one week of April 2020. 

Another consumer study cited by the NAR suggests that 24 percent of people surveyed would be willing to buy a home without seeing it in person, while 30 percent would be willing to rent one. 

As a buyer looking to find your next home in Chicagoland, it’s important to be strategic about how you use virtual open houses and walkthroughs. Want to make the most of your next virtual real estate tour? Here are a few strategies and ideas for buyers to keep in mind: 

Do Some Legwork Ahead of Time

Before lining up a weekend full of virtual open houses and remote showings, make time to understand what you’re looking for. Going in with a strategy can help you make the most of your schedule, and make it easier to navigate through the rapidly changing Chicagoland market.

Baird & Warner offers advanced home search technology that can help you narrow your focus as you look for your perfect home. At every step of the way, your Baird & Warner agent can be by your side, taking time to listen to your needs and guide your search. 

One important idea to discuss with your real estate professional is your list of wants and needs for your future home. Taking time to think about your “should-haves” and “must-haves” is a crucial early step that can help you get organized and put you in a better position as you talk with your broker, compare different homes, and ultimately make a decision on purchasing a property.

Getting preapproved for a mortgage is another important step in narrowing your search. Early on, having a preapproval in hand can help give you a price range and a better understanding of the homes you can afford. Down the line, a preapproval convinces the seller that you can afford their property, which makes you an attractive buyer with negotiating power. 

With our in-house partners at Key Mortgage, you’ll have a one-stop shop for obtaining a preapproval and ultimately securing your loan, at the best possible terms. And, being local, it makes it easier for them to keep you informed, guide you through the process, and move into your house hunt feeling confident and prepared. 

Don’t Forget to Consider All Five Senses

A virtual walkthrough or open house can be a great way to learn about a home — but it’s important to remember that touring a property remotely won’t be able to give you the full experience of actually being there. 

Whether consciously or unconsciously, we use all of our available senses when touring homes in person. While a virtual tour can give you a lot of important information, it’s no substitute for being able to actually hear the sounds of a nearby train, feel the breeze from an open window, or sniff out lingering odors. 

After reading up on the property, be sure to go in with a list of questions that can help you get a better sense of the property. During live broadcasts, don’t hesitate to ask the broker who is guiding the virtual tour about their experiences with the home. Be ready to ask about all the things that you might notice if you were touring the property first-hand:

  • “What sounds or noises come have you heard on the property?” Is it close to public transit, or a major road? Is there plane noise? If it’s a condo or apartment in a multi-unit building, can you hear neighbors in the hallway? What about upstairs?
  • “What smells should I expect?” Trust your nose. A sniff test can actually help reveal potential issues with a home, including mold, water damage, and poor air circulation.
  • “Are there any sticky cabinets, windows, or doors? Are the appliances all functional? Can you run the water or flip on a lightswitch?”
  • “Is there strong cell reception or WiFi signal? 
  • “What can you see from the windows, doors, or outdoor spaces?” Don’t be afraid to ask the listing agent to hold up their camera to help you get a better look. 

Use Virtual Resources to Explore the Neighborhood

One of the most important steps in finding a home is getting a feel for the neighborhood. When you purchase a home, you’re not just buying four walls. Instead, you’re joining a community, and all that comes with it — schools, green spaces, public transportation, restaurants, theaters, and more. 

Working with your real estate agent, take some time to explore the neighborhood. In addition to exploring on your own by car, by bike, or on foot, look for virtual resources that can help introduce you to the area. There are lots of fun and accessible neighborhood guides for communities across Chicagoland. You can also take a remote tour via Google Maps, research the history of the community online, or join a local neighborhood group on social media. 

Above all, be sure to talk to your real estate broker and leverage their unique perspective. Your real estate professional can take time to help you learn more about the best features of the neighborhood, and give you the sort of insights into market trends and conditions that only a hyperlocal real estate expert can provide.

Work With a Real Estate Company That Can Help Make It Easier, at Every Step of the Way

During these unpredictable times, it helps to work with a real estate company that can take the stress out of finding your new home. At Baird & Warner, our mantra is “let’s make this easier” — from the day you start envisioning your next home, to the day you’re handed the keys.

For more than 30 years, Baird & Warner has been offering residential sales, mortgage, and title services all under one roof — because we know that when our clients can rely on a trusted team of real estate professionals who work together to guide them through every part of their transaction, they have a better experience overall.

As we all navigate the uncertainty around COVID-19, our family of services is adapting and innovating to make things easier for buyers like you. 

Ready to move forward with your home search? We offer a virtual homebuying program that can help you navigate the entire process from the comfort and safety of home, from your first consultation to the day of your closing. When it’s time to close, Baird & Warner Title is making sealing the deal on your new home safer, with multiple options for truly contactless closings. And with so much uncertainty right now, mortgage rules and regulations are changing daily. The loan officers at Key Mortgage Services have the expertise and tools it takes to ensure a smooth transaction, including Glyde, which lets borrowers do everything in one secure, mobile-friendly portal for a faster, easier, and more transparent loan process than ever before. 

The Market Is Moving. If You’re Ready, So Can You

With all the uncertainty right now, we want you to know that we are here for you, no matter what. We understand that you still have important real estate decisions to make, and our mission is to make achieving those goals easier. We will continue to provide the most updated information and guide you through this extraordinary time with a calm and steady hand.

At Baird & Warner, 165 years of history have taught us how to overcome even the most adverse conditions. We know how resilient our Chicagoland community is — and we’re confident we’ll get through this together, stronger than ever.