What to Look for with Virtual ViewingsJames Trafford
The COVID-19 pandemic has increased the number of virtual viewings when buying and selling property in the UK. The trend was already on the rise prior to 2020, but this has accelerated and is likely to remain a popular choice for shortlisting properties buyers are interested in.
In fact, there is also a significant number of homes bought where the purchaser has relied solely on virtual viewings to make up their mind without recourse to in-person inspections.
In general, virtual tours can be live or pre-recorded. If you’ve ever wanted to take a virtual tour of your property from the comfort of your own phone or tablet, a live virtual tour is just what you’re looking for. It offers a glimpse into the life of the seller and how his or her family used the property. It also gives the buyer a chance to ask questions based on what they see and consider whether it will be suitable for their needs.
A virtual tour can also be pre-recorded and accessed via the estate agent’s website. Both video footage and photos can be used for the presentation.
What to look out for
From a buyers perspective, there are several things that you should look out for when viewing a property virtually.
Look beyond the superficial
Don’t be distracted by the aesthetics of a room; if it’s too garish or ornate, you’ll miss what’s truly going on there. The substance of a house is more important to consider while deciding whether or not to purchase a home. When you buy a product from a store, while it’s nice to have decorative packaging, you are more interested in what’s inside, such as the ingredients of a food product.
How well has the property been maintained?
Has the DIY and maintenance work been done to a high standard, and are there many original features left? For example, if there’s a fireplace, does it work? Do the carpets hide missing floorboards?
What are the windows like?
Does the property have double or triple glazed windows, or UPVC? Windows are not cheap to replace, so this is one to look for, including how long ago they were last replaced. Single glazed or degraded windows from age will be costly in the winter months to heat the house. Don’t forget to ask about the property’s energy performance certificate.
Don’t forget to take a look around outside
Is there anything to see outside the windows? For example, you may be looking out over a busy car park or a bustling commercial district, and this could prevent you from purchasing the home, something that is difficult to discern from an online virtual tour of the property.
Size of furniture and rooms
Before you buy, check the dimensions of the furniture — is it two or three seats? What size are you looking for in order to suit your requirements? Is that kitchen table big enough to fit everyone around it? Tally the number of kitchen cabinets (and compare it with what you already have). How much space do you have in the fridge, and if not, will the space fit a larger one? Will you also need a chest freezer?
Extra storage space
‘Where is the storage?’ is a common question that prospective buyers neglect to bring up while inspecting a home. As a result, it’s imperative that you keep a watchful eye on each room you view to gauge what storage capacity it has. In the entrance hall, where are everyone’s coats? Where are everyone’s shoes and boots kept? Which one would you choose if you were planning on making a real trip to see them? Big, bulky items like the vacuum cleaner and ironing board must be stored someplace. Ask the owner what they do with them.
Bathrooms and kitchens
Be sure to ask about the water pressure. Ask them if they don’t mind turning on the shower so you can get an idea of what it’s like; if it’s an electric shower and it cuts out, this could indicate a problem with pressure. Furthermore, these two rooms are the ones that homeowners will often want to upgrade the most, and they are also the most expensive ones.
So, bear in mind that it’s likely you will be living there for some time before you splash out on upgrading these rooms. For example, are all the appliances in good working order? Is there any sign of damp or mould in the bathroom, and what is the state of the grout and limescale? Work out if it needs to be replaced soon.
Are the rooms being shown with lights on or off, and what do they look like with the lights off, just with natural light coming in? If you are planning on working from home, lighting will be even more important to consider.