Since March this year, estate agents have increasingly been offering the option of virtual tours and online property viewings to help keep things moving during the pandemic. But would you really buy a home that you’d never seen in person?
We take a look at how online viewings work and what things you need to consider before making an offer on a property.
How do I view a property online?
Many people will start their home search using websites such as Rightmove or Zoopla. Many of these online listings will now come with added digital features such as video tours or virtual walkthroughs.
A video tour will be a simple video which showcases each room as put together by the seller or the agent. This is by far the most basic option, and is unlikely to show you much more than a good set of photographs.
Virtual walkthroughs are a much more advanced option. They are now widely available due to the lockdown. A virtual walkthrough gives you a full 360° view of the home, allowing you to click into different rooms and see the location from different perspectives. It will allow you to zoom in on areas and look at the property in much greater detail.
These options are open to anyone accessing property details online. If you have made a shortlist of properties, speak to the agent to book a live virtual viewing
A virtual viewing appointment will be live with the seller or agent using video conferencing tools such as Zoom or WhatsApp. Having that additional contact with a real-life person at the other will allow you to interact as if you were there in person.
Don’t be afraid to ask questions
Just as you would in person, feel free to ask as many questions as possible during the virtual viewing. If you’d like to see something in more detail, or something catches your eye that could be concerning, don’t be afraid to be specific. If you want further information, you can always ask the seller to send you additional photos, or even ask for more videos such as the outdoor space and even the surrounding location.
Can I still do a property viewing in person?
Many buyers get an emotional response to a property when visiting in person, something which is hard to replicate using virtual tools.
In-person property viewings can still take place. During the first UK lockdown they stopped completely, but now the guidelines are different. You may view a home in person as long as social distancing rules are followed.
Official guidance encourages initial viewings to be done virtually. Any seller or agent serious about selling a home should enable you to do this where possible. If the virtual viewing whets your tastebuds for more, then you may want to arrange to visit the property in person, as long as all parties can ensure they follow all the relevant guidelines.
Should I make an offer after a virtual property viewing?
Whilst there have been brave people who have pushed on with house purchases following virtual viewings, there is no doubt that it is much harder to get a feel for the property online. It is also a very big financial commitment to make so you’ll want to be absolutely sure you’re making the right decision.
If you don’t want to lose the chance of your dream property, then by all means put an offer in following your viewing. However, it should be made clear that this is an agreement ‘subject to physical inspection’. It would be unfair on the sellers if they lost out on other potential buyers, so if you have made an offer, you should arrange to view the property as soon as it is safe and convenient to do so.
To keep up-to-date with the current regulations in your local area, please visit www.gov.uk/coronavirus
The above post does not constitute advice – financial, legal or otherwise. The information within this article is the author’s own opinion and do not necessarily reflect the views of SO Media or So Smart Money.
THINK CAREFULLY BEFORE SECURING OTHER DEBTS AGAINST YOUR HOME. YOUR HOME MAY BE REPOSSESSED IF YOU DO NOT KEEP UP REPAYMENTS ON YOUR MORTGAGE.