Virtual Showings ~ tried and true for Military Families
Real Estate is abuzz with virtual showings as a way to purchase a home during the COVID 19 pandemic. As more and more Realtors are getting savvy on how to do Virtual showings, military families are saying “been there, done that.”
As a Realtor who works closely with military families, I’ve been selling homes virtually for several years. As daunting as it sounds, military families often don’t have the luxury of visiting an area prior to moving, especially when there are deployments involved and living overseas. If they want to ensure a place to live when they arrive in fast-paced markets such as the DC Metro area, they often must purchase (or rent) having only seen the home virtually.
Recently, we helped a buyer moving here from Okinawa, Japan. With a high-ranking position in the Air Force, she needed to be able to get settled into a new home upon her arrival in Northern Virginia so she could concentrate on transitioning to her new demanding job. This required her to view available homes with virtual tours. Because of the time difference, all tours were conducted in the early evening or very early morning. The most important thing about doing a virtual tour is to describe everything that is being seen to include texture, smells and flow of the rooms. She ended up purchasing a beautiful townhome that she moved into a month after closing so I collected her mail and checked on the townhome twice a week until she arrived in town.
The entire process can be nerve racking for all involved. After all it is one of the largest purchases a person can make in their lifetime. Anyone contemplating purchasing a home without being able to see it in person should follow the following steps to make their experience successful:
Step 1: Work with a Realtor you trust
There’s a lot of great information online but there’s no substitute to having someone you trust who can physically go to the location for you. A great real estate agent will be able to negotiate a fair price on a home while helping you have the winning bid if there are multiple offers. But a Realtor is so much more; they are your personal advisor, educator, ambassador and friend who will take a hands-on personal approach. They are your eyes, ears and nose (to root out any unusual smells) during your search. Choose wisely.
Step 2: Home Search and Neighborhood Reconnaissance
The key is to view as many homes online as possible within the preferred neighborhood. Google Maps Street view is a good start but there’s nothing like having a virtual tour of the local neighborhood to include how far restaurants, shops, parks and dog parks are. One of my favorite virtual tours was on a beautiful summer day, walking to the Mount Vernon trail and giving the buyer a look at the gorgeous park along the Potomac that was just a few minutes from their home.
Step 3: Safety Measures
During the pandemic, the Jessica Richardson Team has added additional steps while conducting virtual tours including wearing masks, shoe covers and wiping down anything that is touched. Listing agents have been turning on lights and opening interior doors so touching surfaces is minimal while conducting these tours.
Step 4: Home Inspection
Home inspections are done virtually as well – with the inspector recapping the most critical items needed attention. Besides a detailed report complete with photos, virtual inspections include a video. Having trustworthy inspector who will point out every detail lets clients know the true state of the home.
Step 5: Fitting the Furniture and After Closing
Making move-in day as smooth as possible requires knowing where furniture will fit in the new home. And what size curtains are needed. Taking measurements helps our clients envision living in their home before they are even there.
The Jessica Richardson Team follows up once keys have been exchanged to include collecting mail and checking on a vacant home until the owners can move in. With a great list of vendors, we also coordinate painters, lawn care, cleaners, etc. so everything is perfect prior to move-in day.
By following the steps, the search becomes a great experience. With my heart pumping a little faster, there’s nothing like seeing the smile on a client’s face who is seeing their new home for the first time. Military families have so much to deal with during their moves and making it as stress-free as possible is our top goal – and being as thorough as possible is key.
A Realtor’s point of view is invaluable but there’s nothing like getting the buyer’s perspective:
“As a military family, we have often had to choose our next home by seeing it virtually rather than in person. It is not always possible to travel to your new location in advance. In the past 15 years, we have purchased two homes without seeing the house in person. For us, there are two key criteria for a successful virtual home purchase: First, you must have a realtor who is keenly aware of your desires and dislikes and who is laser focused on helping you fulfill your wish list. At the same time, the Realtor needs to use their good judgment to steer you away from a place that doesn’t fit the bill for reasons not apparent through a virtual tour. Second, it is absolutely critical to get a thorough home inspection from someone who is detail oriented and specific. Thankfully, we had Patricia to guide us on our home purchase. With an experienced Realtor on your side, the virtual home buying experience can be a wonderful way to find your perfect home.”