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Ask a Realtor: Are virtual tours reliable for buying a home?

Dear CJ and Jeffrey,

My wife and I were planning to come to Vail in the late spring to look at homes, which got put on hold due to the pandemic. We are very interested in moving to the Vail Valley and looking for a new home but are concerned about COVID safety issues both with traveling and touring properties.

We have heard about the shift to virtual tours and wondering how this process works. Can we get a realistic tour of the home on line and if so, will we need to still come out and do a walk through or can we literally do this all online?

Curious Buyer

Dear Curious Buyer,

Your question is a very timely topic and one we field almost daily. Buyer demand in the Vail Valley and Down Valley has escalated with the easing of COVID restrictions, even more so than anticipated. People, such as your wife and you, are looking for a place to live or spend a portion of their year that offers more access to open space and smaller, more contained communities.

Touring a home these days doesn’t look the way it did at the start of 2020. While important safety and health precautions, such as wearing masks and sanitizing homes before and after tours, are now standard practices, the added potential risks associated with traveling to, touring different properties and staying in hotels, have more buyers considering and using virtual options.

We respect and want to work with buyers, such as yourself, who are concerned about traveling and touring properties. While face to face time is always preferred as a way to get to know each other, safety and comfort level boundaries are also important. This is where virtual tour technology plays a valuable role and one that gives the buyer a very realistic look of a home and its setting.

We’re certainly doing more than we ever have over the internet and conducting real estate sales in a way we could never have imagined even three months ago. We are selling homes without the buyer ever physically stepping foot into the house.

Tips for getting the most out of your Virtual Tour video (buyer and sellers):

  1. While walkthrough videos are pretty standard, it is important to still do a FaceTime/Zoom/Skype a few times before moving forward.
  2. Be sure your broker does an actual live video walk through with you. While the initial video/Matterport/ Property tour gives you the space design and location, “hearing” the home and surrounding sounds are important elements for really understanding the “feel” of the home.
  3. Make sure this is a complete tour; you should see every element and crack — the good & the bad. This helps insure there are no surprises when you actually step into the home.
  4. All paperwork can be done via e-mail /electronically, helping to save time and travel costs if you are out of market.
  5. Make sure you work with a broker who has eyes on properties that aren’t just coming through the MLS feed. A good broker on their game with the focused goal of successfully executing your needs and the needs of clients will take the time to locate homes that haven’t even hit the market.

Good luck in your search,

CJ and Jeffrey

CJ Seatvet and Jeffrey Cloonan are award-winning, associate brokers and Luxury Collection Specialists with Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices Colorado Properties for the past 11+ years. Both have earned top honors, including the Chairman’s Circle Award, as top producing brokers in the Vail Valley and Down Valley. CJ can be reached at 970-376-9010 or [email protected]; Jeffrey can be reached at 970-445-8388 or [email protected].