Buying Real Estate Using A Virtual Portal… Is It As Good As The Real Thing?

With Covid-19 in full swing and stay-at-home orders in place for most states, real estate agents are joining the wave of virtual videos. Whether to connect with clients or reaching out to a whole new captive audience, agents are being forced to join the virtual age if they want to remain relevant.

To Virtual or Not to Virtual…

One area that is benefitting is the Virtual open house/tours for properties currently listed on the MLS. Since taking buyers out on viewings has been severely restricted and open houses completely banned, agents have had to find ways to get their listing in front of potential buyers who can only do a walk through of them from their laptops. Companies like Matterport have seen a significant increase in business over the past few weeks, with no end in sight for the foreseeable future on the stay-at-home mandate, chances are good that this will become the new norm for marketing even once we do go back to a more normal routine.

Having said all this, the question still remains, will this be as good as the real deal? Can a buyer truly get a strong sense of the house, concept, design, overall feel through a portal such as Matterport? Enough so to put in an offer? My opinion….No.

Hazards of Buying Virtually

While I do agree that a virtual walkthrough is definitely better than photos as well as a good way to filter out potential options, I personally believe that nothing can replace being physically present at a property. To stand in a room and feel it, experience it, notice the small details that aren’t captured with a camera. To walk through it and see if you can imagine you or your family in it, how do you capture the sounds it makes or the smells it might emit? How do you get a real sense of the size of a room, whether it feels smaller due to a low ceiling that you didn’t pick up on virtually, the neighbor’s trashed yard or the fishbowl effect since your next door neighbors are able to watch every move you make in your day to day lives.

As an investor, property details might not be as important. You’re looking at your ROI, rental market and other variables. As a forever home, the set of criteria are purely personal and individual to each buyer. It’s hard to think about spending $500,000 or more on a home you haven’t actually walked through.

Remember, photos and videos are for the benefit of the seller not the buyer. They are trying to put their best foot forward so as to get you to want to see it in person. Which is exactly my point, to see it in person. There’s a saying in real estate….pictures lie……they tell the story they want you to know but not always the story as it really is.