During these times as we utilize more remote features while physical distancing for home buying, video and virtual tours/open houses are becoming more popular. As we rely more on pictures and videos, there can be a few pieces of important information that we forget to address without actually being on the property physically. These questions are great to consider even when physical distancing mandates have been lifted. Today we’ve compiled a few questions that you can ask your real estate agent during a virtual tour to help get a better idea of the property you are viewing.
Starting with the Neighborhood
Some of this research you might be able to do on your own using Google Maps and drive-bys, but ask your agent to help you paint a picture of the neighborhood as part of your tour. Here are some example questions of information you want to look for:
- How close are the neighbors?
- Are there sidewalks?
- How much privacy is there?
- What is the noise level outside?
- Any strange odors (ie paper mills, sewage, etc)?
- Is there access/views to mountains, forest, lakes, ocean, or other natural features?
- What is the general amount of traffic during the tour?
- Are there any local businesses nearby?
- Any public parks or other recreational places?
- How far are the schools, hospitals, and other places of interest?
Not all of the questions might be relevant for your needs/wants, but think about the kinds of things you would normally be on the lookout for while driving towards a property.
Looking at the Exterior
Sometimes it is hard to see the details of an exterior from a picture or video, but you can rely on your agent to help you see if there are any specific issues that pop out at them.
- Do the siding and roof look worn or damaged?
- Are the gutters in good condition? If there are no gutters, are there areas where gutters would have been useful?
- Is there any exterior damage to the casing on the windows?
- How is the landscaping? Are there any patches of dead grass and other plants that can be explained?
- If there is a deck or porch, do the boards squeak? Does the structure feel stable? What is the condition of the steps and railing?
- If there is fencing, does it look like it is in good condition? Do any boards or panels need to be replaced?
- If there is a private septic system, where is the tank and leach field located?
- If there is an outside HVAC or Generator unit, how long ago were they installed? Where are they located? Do they look like they are in good shape?
You can also apply similar questions to any outdoor sheds or garages on the property.
Pictures and video can help us with spatial understanding of a space, but once again there are specific features we might miss just from general images.
- What is the interior noise level? Is there a major difference between the outdoor and indoor noise level?
- Any strange interior odors (musty/mold odors, etc.)?
- Do the listing photos and video accurately depict the interior features?
- Are there any water marks on the ceiling?
- Are there any concerning water damage, cracks, or chips in the walls or molding?
- Do any floorboards creak as you walk around?
- What are the carpets, tiles, or linoleum if present?
- Is any mold or mildew present in the kitchen or bathroom? Are there features to help mitigate mold from forming such as extraction fans and air flow?
- What is the age and condition of the household appliances? Beyond the kitchen, this can include washers & dryers, boilers, well tank, sump pumps, etc.
- What are the conditions of any oil tanks? Any visible cracks or leaks?
- What is the condition and location of the breaker box?
- Are there any chimneys? Do they look like they are in good, clean condition?
- Any damage to doors or windows on the interior? Do they open and close easily?
- What do the views look like outside the windows?
You can also refer to the property disclosures to answer some of these questions as far as age and condition of utility related features as well as any major issues. If a property disclosure mentions a concern, make sure that part of your agents tour includes a look at the issue if possible.
While negative responses to any of these questions should not be an immediate deterrent from considering a property, having as much information as possible gives you a better, more informed picture. Plus, you may be able to negotiate a better deal if any major issues were not already outlined in the listing photos or property disclosures. Remember that your real estate agents understand that buying a new home is a major commitment, and their goal is to find the best match for you and your family so don’t be afraid to ask questions!
You can always each out to the experts at the Real Estate Store to find out more about purchasing a new home!