The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way people do their day-to-day tasks — this is evident even in property buying and conducting virtual inspections is one manifestation.
As the property market moves forward to a post-pandemic world, the concept of virtual inspections has become a regular option for many home buyers and sellers, particularly those living interstate. Utilising technologies such as video conferencing, 3D tours, and video apps, many buyers now have the ability to check their chosen interstate property with just a few mouse clicks or phone taps.
Here are three things you should know and consider when planning for a virtual inspection:
1. Check that the platform that can be used for virtual inspections
There are several ways that a virtual inspection can be conducted — using a 3D virtual tour is the most common way of doing virtual inspections and was widely used even before the pandemic.
There are listing sites that already use 3D models for some properties listed on their sites. You can navigate these 3D virtual tours by either using your mouse and keyboard if you are on a computer or by tapping your screen and swiping if you are on a mobile device.
A downside of 3D virtual tours is the lack of interaction with your seller or agent. Most of the time, you will rely on whatever it is that is stated on the listing and what you can see in the 3D models. If you need further information, you will need to reach out to your seller or agent either through call or email.
You can also have a virtual inspection through a video call. Real estate agents and sellers can contact you using video messaging applications like Skype, Zoom, or FaceTime to show you around the property.
The most significant advantage of using video calls is that you can ask your agent or seller specific questions about the property. You can even ask them to show you around the house in real-time. The only possible disadvantage of this set-up is a faulty internet connection that can make the video quality poor.
Some agents and sellers also use live streaming platforms to conduct a virtual open house. These are usually broadcast through social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram.
2. Prepare a list of questions and requests prior to the virtual inspection
Once a virtual inspection is scheduled, you must prepare a set of questions and possible concerns that you want to raise, since you will not be able to see the house physically.
Here are some of the things you should ask your seller or agent to show and discuss with you during the virtual inspection:
The quality of fixtures and appliances in frequently used rooms such as kitchen and bathroom
Heating and cooling systems in place
The overall size of the property
View from the inside of the house
Recent renovation works
The view of the house from outside
The house's lawn/landscaping
Areas that need to be upgraded, improved or repaired
View of the houses nearby
Lighting (natural and artificial)
As much as possible, be exhaustive with the things that you want to be checked. Given the limitations of virtual tours, it is important to take a look at every nook and cranny of the dwelling. You can ask your seller or agent to zoom in on areas to give you more detail.
3. Request additional photos and videos after the inspection
When you do a virtual inspection, make sure that you take control. After the initial walkthrough of the house, ask your agent or seller to show you the areas that you want to inspect further. In some instances, they might try to showcase certain parts of the house to shift your attention.
To help you scrutinise the house further, ask your agent to send additional pictures and videos after the virtual inspection. You can request footage and photos of the areas that you want to see more of.
The real estate industry is seeing a great opportunity in virtual tours as an added touch to property selling. Will this trend become the new norm in property inspections?
It is unlikely that virtual tours will replace physical and private inspections in the future. However, it has already become a practical option for home buyers who, in some cases, might not be able to physically visit the property. For instance, an interstate or a foreign buyer can conveniently check out houses without having to travel long distances. Virtual tours also widen the target audience of sellers.
This is an updated version of an article originally published in January 2021.