As the state slowly starts to reopen, many of us are seeing changes to nearly all facets of life, and for someone wanting or needing to move, participating in virtual showings and open houses are something to consider. While a virtual tour through a house isn’t exactly the same as being there, it does offer benefits, such as protecting those who may be immune compromised, fewer people wandering around the property and getting a good look into the home before committing to an on-site visit.

As people begin feeling more comfortable leaving their homes, there’s still uncertainty about entering strangers’ houses, which makes virtual tours a great option. But, since virtual showings and open houses are relatively new, what should buyers and sellers expect? Before participating in any kind of virtual showing, make sure to have the property’s specs readily available. This should include the size of the rooms, plus basic information such as square footage, number of bathrooms and bedrooms, plus any important information about recent updates.

What to expect when participating in a virtual open house

Regardless if it’s the buyer’s or seller’s agent, the person showing the property should do what an average buyer would do when walking through. Key areas include:

  1. Making sure all cabinets and doors are opened and looked through, including bedroom closets and pantries.
  2. Looking under all sinks for any signs of damage.
  3. Examining the roof if possible, but this can also be accomplished through a home inspection.
  4. Flushing all toilets and running all faucets to check water pressure.
  5. Looking at all ceilings to check for signs of previous leaks and water damage, this should also be done by a home inspector.
  6. Examining all window sills for signs of damage, peeling paint and overall quality.
  7. Getting a close look at the age of the water heater and HVAC system.

Some agents are better at virtual showings, photography and video than others, and many agents differ in what technology they use, which makes a difference in quality. These are important factors to keep in mind when participating in online showings.

Tips for sellers preparing for virtual showings

Sellers should keep their home show ready regardless if the showing is in person or virtual. Here are a few tips for sellers to guarantee the property looks great for both options:

  1. Make sure there is lots of light. Open up curtains and clean the windows.
  2. Change all the lightbulbs to white light. This gives off a softer glow that makes the surroundings look more appealing in both photography and video.
  3. Keep the home picked up and cabinets and closets organized.
  4. Be prepared to answer questions in real time for potential buyers.

It’s hard to know if real estate showings will go back to what used to be considered normal, but it’s fair to say that participating in virtual showings, either through online invitation or by appointment, are a trend that will stick with the industry. At this time only buyers who are paying for the home are allowed inside a property with an agent, these would be the names that are one the housing agreement. This means no children, grandparents, parents, siblings or anyone else is allowed on tours.

Additionally, as the state adjusts to what types of businesses are allowed to open and to what degree, it is important for all parties to understand that if an agent says they cannot show a home at a particular time it is not because there is anything wrong with the property, but most likely because state rules have changed and the agent could lose their license if they are showing property. Between now and the end of this year, and likely into 2021, rules and guidelines on social distancing will change, so exercise patience and trust that the realtors involved have everyone’s best and safest interest in mind.