Since the COVID-19 pandemic started, most industries slowly (or abruptly – depending on the industry) came to a grinding halt. Adjustments for the new normal had to be made for businesses deemed essential. Meanwhile, more frivolous ones have no choice but to wait until everything blows over.
How is real estate faring while all of this is going on? Are people looking for a new home going to have to shelve their future until further notice? The good news is that there are practical ways to adjust to this situation without compromising your health and others’.
Do shelter-in-place research
Like most businesses, real estate all over the world has turned to digital means to keep going during lockdowns and quarantines. Now is the actually best time to do your “home” work.
While you are sheltering-in-place, go online and do some research.
- Bookmark reliable real estate sites, blogs, forums, and social media pages.
- Use choice keywords to narrow down
your search for the following factors:
- Locations – Google Maps is a great tool for scouting locations.
- Neighborhood – Areavibes.com is a good way to check the safety of the neighborhood.
- Price range
- Proximity to schools and businesses
- Yelp rating
- and other factors to help you determine the best possible candidates for your future home.
- Lookup reputable Property Managers to help you fine-tune your search and provide a pre-approval list.
Go on virtual house tours
Plenty of real estate agencies currently feature virtual house tours using creatively edited videos and slideshows to highlight the properties’ best assets. This is when you can fill in your research with visuals and see if everything is a good fit for what you’re looking for.
These properties are ones where you can go on a virtual tour, and end up getting a good idea of their important aspects:
- A house tour that offers a 3D walkthrough experience where you can navigate the interiors with ease (like you are in an actual showing).
- Properties that allow 360° virtual tours so you can “see” all the corners and areas typically not show on traditional slideshows and picture galleries.
- A virtual tour or “unboxing” of new properties where a presenter does the touring and describes the look and feel of each room and amenities for you.
- Home and property tours that also give visual information while you “tour”, as if an agent is walking and explaining things right there beside you.
Does the house have the kind of curb appeal you want? Is the layout making the most of the property’s floor plan and dimensions? Is the neighborhood quiet, clean, and offering the kind of convenience you need? Are there unexpected features like sophisticated finishes, natural lighting, a garden, and other factors that other properties do not have? You can go on as many virtual house tours as your heart desires to look for that perfect house (and all its amenities) today.
Avoid red flags
Here is a section on what not to do. Since it has become easy to window-shop for properties with a few clicks, it has also become easy to get scammed by shady real estate agents hard-selling iffy properties. So as not to get conned, consider the following red flags and do your best to investigate (or avoid them altogether):
- There is no video tour or even enough pictures to give you a clear idea of how the property looks and feels like.
- If there are pictures or a slideshow, the dimensions are exaggerated or warped.
- The location leaves much to be desired – such as near busy, noisy roads or somewhere with an unsavory reputation.
- It has recently been renovated after a disaster – and is back on the market right away.
- The house has been listed for sale for quite some time (and nobody seems to be interested).
- The price tag seems too good to be true.
Consult with a reputable Property Manager
A Property Manager can help you fine-tune the research and home tours you have done so far. They are professionals who are well-versed in the language of real estate and all of its requirements. They can help you come up with a list of what to accomplish prior to the actual viewing and purchasing of your future home.
Look for a Property Manager with experience in crisis situations and have exhibited adaptability in seemingly unforeseen circumstances. Those are the best ones who will have your back no matter what. They can help you with controlling costs and negotiating contracts to your favor. And given the current situation, they will insist on safety and health protocols for everyone involved – and not jeopardize it with haphazardly thrown-together site viewing and hard selling.
Fortunately, everything can be found with just a series of clicks. You can look up Property Managers with impressive portfolios and impeccable reputations with just a few keywords and reviews. Now more than ever, the Internet is your best tool for preliminary house-hunting. Use it freely to your advantage.
Bio: Elisha Finman is an experienced RE executive proficient in operations, finances and team building. His track record includes managing a portfolio of New York City multifamily residential buildings. Skilled in all areas of RE management including setting rents, leases, collections and legal, evictions, violations hpd-dob-ecb, building maintenance and instituting cost savings and efficiency measures.