Social distancing and stay-at-home orders have shifted a lot of our daily lives to the internet—shopping, business, family dinners and game nights, and yes, home buying. In fact, the majority of the real estate process can be done from the comfort of your home, thanks to virtual home buying.
The Ins and Outs of Virtual Home Buying
Nowadays, you can buy a home without ever meeting your real estate agent or lender, seeing the home, or even stepping foot out your front door! Thanks to virtual home buying, you can purchase your next home from across the state, the country, or even the world.
Here’s how it works.
It all starts with a good agent
While buying a home online might seem like something you can do without the help of an agent, the opposite is actually true. When buying a home virtually, you want to enlist the help of a professional who understands the ins and outs of local real estate—particularly if you’re not in the area.
A good local agent can help walk you through the entire process, from search to close. As with in-person real estate, your agent will help you narrow your search to the right location, negotiate on your behalf, and schedule inspections and appraisals. But if you’re online shopping, your agent will also serve as your local eyes and ears, and can even facilitate virtual showings if you’re not able to attend in person.
Online home searches are pretty robust
These days, a lot of the actual home search process can be done online and even on your own. In fact, long before the days of social distancing, buyers turned to the internet to see what was for sale. But now more than ever, online home searches (like ours!) have become so robust, you can set highly specific criteria to narrow down your search to only those homes that exactly meet your wants and needs.
The one problem with online searches is that they don’t always show everything that’s out there. Some homes might not be listed, or may be accepting offers but not officially listed… that’s where it pays to have an agent. Take your search one step further and share your wants and needs with a local agent—who can in turn reach out to their network of fellow agents and clients.
Virtual tours let you step inside
Just because a home meets all your criteria on paper, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s your dream home. But if you’re staying home (or you’re way too far away for a quick drive by), how do you know? Enter: the virtual tour.
Virtual tours are usually a collection of photos or video compiled to give the viewer an impression of walking through or touring a home. Unlike a photo gallery, virtual tours can give you a much better idea of the overall flow, layout, and feel of a home.
Some agents take virtual tours one step further and create 3D tours. These use special 3D photography to essentially build a virtual model of the home and allow viewers to manually click or “walk” their way through the home. Tours such as these tend to be more prevalent in luxury or high-end real estate.
Virtual showings allow for an in-person feel
What if the virtual tour still just doesn’t cut it? If you’re really in love with a home and serious about buying it, an in-person tour might be possible. But before you take that step (or if you’re unable to), there’s another option: a virtual showing.
Like the virtual tour, the virtual showing lets you explore a home without leaving your own home. You and your agent will connect via video chat and your agent will tour the home—with you in the driver’s seat. At your direction, the agent will walk through the home, opening and closing, turning around, looking up and down, and retracing steps as necessary. It’s the next best thing to being there in person, and of course, you can ask questions as you go.
You can even sign online
When you find a home you want to buy, there’s a lot of paperwork that needs to be signed to get the process rolling… and continuing… and finalized. Fortunately, a lot of this paperwork can be done online, thanks to secure online platforms like DocuSign, which are able to authenticate your identity while protecting your information. For signatures requiring notarization, you might even be able to use a mobile notary to sign without having to leave home.
Want to Know More About Virtual Home Buying?
Are you thinking about buying a home in the Triangle area? We’d love to help! Questions or concerns about how the recent health crisis might have affected your home buying goals? We’d be happy to chat!