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  • Writer's pictureDave Norris

Virtual or real? Be up close & personal!

During the COVID-19 on-going pandemic, lots of articles and websites are spouting the idea of touring and buying a home “virtually”. This might mean viewing the home on the internet via a 3D tour or watching a live video with an agent or seller’s representative presenting you each room or feature. This would presumably be followed up by a professional home inspector and/or a physical appraisal. I can see where that might be an attractive alternative to traveling if you are planning to move far from your current residence or out of state, but as the old saying goes, “buyer beware”!

Anyone who has ever enlisted the help of a buyer’s agent and toured properties may understand the risks involved with this concept. When I represent a buyer and tour properties with them, and as is customary in my area, I do NOT “preview” the property! I’m going in “cold turkey” and objective, just like they are! However, while they’re looking at the cute paint job and new flooring, I’m checking the place out completely and taking off the rose-colored glasses! I point out everything I see, everything that concerns me, and everything that may not pass inspection!

I’m pulling back the shower curtain and showing them the bad caulk job around the tub and hard water stains. Each window is checked to see if it’s original or a replacement. I point out missing shoe mold around the hard floor or the apparent six coats of paint on the woodwork. I point out the old faucets that drip, the lack of proper cutting of paint from the walls to the ceiling and the loose toilet. How are the bones? Are there bowed basement walls, a 50 year old furnace or indications that the roof leaks? Does the basement smell musty or are there indications that it may leak?

And how many times does the buyer leave the property saying “Wow, the pictures made it look so much nicer/bigger/different” (you can fill in the blank!)? At least half the time! Even a 3D virtual tour that allows you to “zoom in” on areas of the house won’t allow you to check the hard water stains, shake the toilet, pull back the curtains or smell the basement!

And let’s assume for a minute that the pictures/video look great and the home inspection reports rave reviews. Even IF a professional home inspection is done prior to marketing the home, you have the right to enlist the help of a home inspector of your choosing. Don’t completely rely on the home inspection report attached to the marketing materials of the property! Once you sign on the dotted line for the purchase, any earnest money deposit may be forfeit if you back out (depending on how it’s written)! And, once actual funds are exchanged at the transaction closing, it’s too late! In most cases, the agent can’t be held liable (buying or selling agent) nor the home inspector (yours OR theirs) or appraiser.

Is your new home purchase worth the extra time/expense/travel to physically visit and see/touch/smell the property? Absolutely! Remember, the folks who take the pictures or video, prepare the reports and market the home do NOT represent you! They represent the seller! It’s always worth the effort when finding a new residence, either close or far away, to walk through that front door yourself to discover if YOU ARE HOME…..or not!

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