The coronavirus pandemic has caused significant changes to our daily lives and how businesses operate. Classes, jobs and events we used to attend in person are now shifting to virtual platforms, including the practice of touring open houses.
When initial stay-at-home orders were executed in 2020, data shows there was a significant decline in real estate showings; however, as months went on, the demand for showings steadily increased and even surpassed those in 2019. According to the U.S. Census Bureau and the U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development, 842,000 houses sold in 2020, which is 18.8 percent higher than the 2019 figure.
It's evident that people are still buying and selling homes, regardless of the circumstances. It's important to be able to see and tour those homes before investing though. So, how do you tour houses safely in 2021? Many are taking advantage of virtual events! Continue reading to learn how to get the most out of these virtual events, what to ask before going to a showing, and the best ways to find houses to tour.
5 Tips for Attending Virtual Open House Events
A common theme for 2020 was "virtual events," which has carried over into 2021. It may seem strange to tour a house virtually considering this could be your forever home, but here are some tips to get the most out of your experience.
- Research. Learn as much as you can about the house before the virtual tour. Look through pictures and videos of the home and ask your realtor for a floor plan. If the house is local, drive through the neighborhood and take a look at the home from the outside. This will give you a better idea of how you feel about the area.
- Choose live events over recorded showings. Many virtual tours are recorded, which is convenient if you're not available at the time of the tour, but if you know you're going to have questions, we recommend attending live so you can get an immediate answer.
- Be on time. While you can drop in whenever it's convenient for in-person tours, virtual events start at a specific time. Log in early with the appropriate software so you don't miss any important information.
- Get familiar with the software. Facebook Live is being used by many realtors, while others are utilizing Zoom and other platforms. Once you know, download the app and make sure you can log in. Get familiar with navigating the app or program so you can just focus on the house.
- Mute your microphone. Often there will be background noise that can be distracting, so mute your microphone unless you're asking a question.
Tips for Safely Tour Houses in Person in 2021
When you know there's a house (or houses) you want to tour in person, the best way to stay safe and protect others is by following the guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), such as wearing a mask, maintaining social distancing, washing your hands and staying home if you exhibit symptoms. Knowing this, there are a few things you should ask your realtor before arriving at the house.
- Ask if everyone will be wearing masks. While mask-wearing guidelines vary from state to state, UC Davis reports that wearing a mask reduces your risk of exposure to COVID-19 by 65 percent.
- Be prepared to wait outside or in your car. Adhering to social distancing guidelines, realtors are asking prospective buyers to line up outside the property and stay six feet apart, or to stay in their car until it's their turn to tour the home.
- Wash your hands and avoid touching things. Guidance from the National Association of Realtors suggests that guests wash their hands or use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer upon entering a home and remove shoes or cover them with booties. Some realtors are asking that potential buyers avoid touching anything in the home, while others are disinfecting commonly touched surfaces after each visit.
- Have your realtor visit the property first. Using Zoom, WhatsApp or another platform, your realtor can guide you through a personal virtual tour of the home, which can help you narrow down your options of which locations you really want to visit in person.
Other tips for touring a home in person include knowing your budget, bringing something to take pictures with and having a notebook or a device to take notes on.
How to Find Open Houses in 2021
Now that you know what to expect virtually and in person, what's the best way to locate homes to tour? Ask the Internet and your realtor!
As you're looking for your next home you might search, "open houses near me tomorrow" or, now that you're working from home and your schedule is more flexible, you can search "model homes near me open today."
Many home builders will list options on their site; see what’s available at Lancia Homes, which features numerous open houses in Fort Wayne, IN.
Ask your realtor, "Are there new construction open houses near me?" or "Where could I find open model homes near me?" They want you to find your dream home just as much as you do, so don't hesitate to ask!
Whether you search "open houses near me this weekend" or ask your realtor for help, there are bound to be a few differences in how you tour homes this year. It might be virtual, or you may have to wait outside until it's your turn to walk through the home, but at least you'll know what to expect!