Video tours have increasingly become the go-to alternative to in-person home tours during the coronavirus pandemic. For prospective buyers, however, there’s more to the process than asking your real estate agent for one more peek at the chef’s kitchen or walk-in closet.
In fact, there’s actually a whole other world outside just waiting to be explored—virtually. While you might already have been attracted to a certain home because of its curb appeal, your agent should show you the exterior and the yard from all angles if you can’t be there in person. According to the experts, here are 10 outdoor places your agent should be sure not to overlook when giving you a virtual home tour.
1. All four corners of the lot
Although Google Street View can provide photos of the neighborhood, the images might not be current and won’t show changes to the property or features like a new fence. That’s why it’s a good idea to stand in the corners of the property and pan around, showing all angles—not only to see the lot lines, but to provide a better sense of how far the house is from each perspective.
2. The neighbors’ houses
Having friendly and helpful neighbors is a wonderful thing, but not if they’re too close for comfort. If you’re entertaining, for instance, think about how close the neighbors would be to you if they were eating outside at the same time. Ask your agent show you—and maybe even measure—how close the neighbors are from the house you’re considering.
3. Outdoor components
This can mean a wide variety of amenities, tools and other aspects that can be seen outside—all of which are important to making a smart offer on a home. Ask your agent to show you the sprinklers working, gates, fences and mechanicals up-close. Also ask to see any exterior features that might impact your decision to buy, like a nearby cell tower, recycling center or even areas of the property that exhibit wear and tear.
Don’t forget to have your agent show you features like the shed, garage or pool house. And it’s important to walk around the entire structures, because a seller often will clean up just the front or have an accumulation of stuff simply thrown behind them. Also, ask your agent to scour the hidden areas of the building for any animals that are living or nesting there.
5. The landscaping
While the landscaping might be attractive, you could need more than a green thumb to keep it that way. For instance, a lot of existing trees and flower beds will require mulching, weeding and regular maintenance. Most buyers don’t factor in the added costs of paying a landscaper to mow and mulch. Take note of how close the trees are to the house and if they’re healthy. Large tree roots can permeate pipes, and dying trees can topple over in a storm.
6. The land
If you’re looking forward to playing croquet in the backyard, it can be quite a letdown to find that it drops off to a steep rock bed. That’s why experts suggest buyers make sure to see how the house is set on the lot, especially if it’s below grade. Does the backyard slope? Is there standing water that could point to drainage issues?
7. The deck
Subtle details of wear and tear are difficult to see on a video, so be sure to have your agent zoom in to inspect for damage and structural integrity. Ask them shake and grab the railings to see if they’re loose, to look for wood rot, to see if the deck boards in need of replacing, or if it needs power washing and staining.
8. All sides of the house
A fresh coat of paint and a new door are just a few curb appeal techniques used to attract buyers, but what lies beyond the charming facade? The main things to look for include exterior deficiencies, such as large cracks in the foundation, rotted trim around the house, an older AC condenser or an aging roof. This helps buyers know what type of expenses they are going to incur as potential homeowners.
9. Playground equipment
If you have kids, playground equipment in the backyard is a bonus if it comes with the house. That is, if the stuff is in good shape. Ask your agent to take really detailed videos and pictures. Homeowners tend to not take great care of these outdoor structures, so they can show a lot of wear and tear from rain, snow and sun.
10. The sounds
If possible, request some quiet time during the video tour to listen for noises that might be a deal-breaker. That includes planes, barking dogs, and especially, traffic noise. This may not be a big deal for you moving into the home, but it could take thousands off the value when you go to resell it.