Unpacking The Withrow Group's Virtual Real Estate Plan
Unpacking The Withrow Group's Virtual Real Estate Plan
What many people may not know is that most of the home buying and selling process is already done virtually.
The large majority of home buying and selling already takes place remotely. In fact, the only part of the home buying and selling process that is not remote, is the viewing of homes in person. Should a client desire, our team offers virtual showings.
When would you need to view a home in person? This may seem like a silly question but stay with us for a minute. Clients often view their prospective home once before making a purchase, and again during the home inspection. Outside of those two instances, the transaction can progress through remote coordination, a process which we explain in this article.
We have taken some time to outline the steps our team is taking to achieve your real estate goals during this prolonged period of social distancing.
How is The Withrow Group taking precautions to minimize in person showings during this time?
The goal with social distancing is to flatten the curve; we understand that everyone has a different level of comfortability surrounding the idea of viewing homes in person at the moment. We also understand there are still many real estate needs and are adapting our best practices on a daily basis. Many sellers still need to sell, and many buyers still need to buy. Despite the current challenges, we have a plan in place to help you achieve those goals and are consistently reassessing.
Regarding minimizing showings on listings, one must understand what entices potential buyers to schedule a showing in the first place. The answer to that is photography. Our team has always understood that a buyer’s first showing takes place online. The photos online are a buyer’s first impression of your home. For this reason, our team has each listing professionally photographed. Proper online presentation demonstrates not only the aesthetics of home, but also the flow and functionality.
Step 1) Contact our team!
When a client reaches out or is referred to us, we arrange a time to vet needs thoroughly. We do this by gauging what is important to them in a home, how their lifestyle impacts their needs, and gain an understanding of their necessary timeline. These needs and wants are then ranked to create an efficient home search process.
Step 2) Get pre-approved.
Regardless of how you intend to tour homes, this is always a vital starting point. Contrary to belief, the process is not as scary or time-consuming as you might think. This can also be done completely remotely for most buyers. We have aligned ourselves with local lenders who can qualify you over the phone in a matter of minutes.
Why use a local lender? Utilizing a local lender can ensure quicker and more efficient communication throughout the home buying process and offers you an opportunity to keep your business local.
Why do you need to be pre-qualified to buy a home? You will need to understand the best loan product for you, gain an understanding of costs necessary to close, and your shopping budget. The results of pre-qualifying also reveal whether or not you need to sell your current home in order to buy.
Step 3) Set-up a home search.
We will set you up on a home search that fits your needs using our local MLS platform. This takes place online as well and provides our clients with instantaneous access via email to new homes that come on the market or change in price.
Why is it important to be notified ASAP when a home that meets your search criteria hits the market? In a low-inventory market, such as our current market, receiving immediate notifications can make the difference in securing a highly desirable property. Viewing a home quickly may keep you from competing with another potential buyer. Competing with another buyer could drive up the home’s value, thus affecting your bottom line.
Third-party websites like Zillow or Trulia do not update as quickly as the MLS, which is one of many reasons why it’s in your best interest to hire an agent when shopping for your home.
Let’s talk virtual home tours! When and how will these play a role in the home buying and selling process?
The ability to leverage virtual showings in your decision-making process relies on the diligence of both you and your agent. Virtual home tours are nothing new for The Withrow Group. This is a common practice already in place for our many out of town or otherwise physically unavailable purchasers. The benefits of evaluating properties from the comfort of your home are more apparent than ever.
The Withrow Group will be conducting virtual home tours on the ground led by your real estate agent. This, in our opinion, is the most effective way to explore whether or not a home will fit your needs. How will you decide if it makes sense to schedule a “virtual tour”?
Step 4) Select your favorites.
When viewing homes online, be realistic about whether or not the homes you like are actually a good fit. When browsing, stay true to your ‘deal breakers’ and don’t spend time viewing homes that you would rule out anyway. This is certainly a time to practice efficiency.
Conversely, in a limited market, it is always wise to consistently reconsider your ‘must have’ list. Be open to making a sacrifice or two to get you into the best new home for your situation.
Step 5) Plan your virtual tours.
Once you have a few homes you really like, it’s time for your agent to dig in and learn as much as possible about them. Next, your agent will gather important information which will ultimately affect your decision to view the home. These items include, but are not limited to, HOA fees, neighborhood restrictions, tax rates, easements, and school districting. This knowledge will help you further determine whether a home is worth pursuing a virtual showing. Additionally, your agent will thoroughly review the Seller’s Disclosure of Property Condition for a better understanding of the age of the home mechanical components, roof condition, repairs made by the owner, etc. Your agent will contact the listing agent to learn of any existing offers, examine the property’s showing activity, and glean any other important information which would impact the home as a potential purchase.
Consider the following:
What areas of the home can you not see that you want to see more of?
What about the floor plan do you not understand from the pictures?
Are there any pictures that make it hard for you to get an idea of scale?
What are you seeing in the photos and in the description that is a potential concern?
Create an itemized list of what you want to see and discuss these details with your agent prior to the virtual tour. This prepares them to show the areas in question and also helps them to keep an eye out for areas that might raise similar questions. The ultimate goal is to simulate viewing the home through your eyes.
Step 6) Schedule live virtual tours with our team.
Your Withrow Group real estate professional will host the virtual showing while you enjoy the comfort of your couch! By utilizing Facetime and other similar methods, we can minimize the public’s health risks and still show you things that the photos may not such as the drive into the neighborhood, any areas of the home that may not have been published in online photos, or any areas of concern that were omitted from online photos.
When you walk through a home in person, you instinctively take in the home through all of your senses. If the home features certain smells, you pick up on it immediately. If the floor dips in an area, you feel it. If there is a busy road nearby, you might hear noise in person that a camera won’t pick up.
This is often what separates great virtual home tours from bad ones. Your agent is truly your eyes, ears, nose, etc. This also ties back to the early discussions with your agent, as it is crucial for them to have a clear understanding of what you look for when you walk through a house.
The most important result of virtual home tours is that you see the property in a manner that gives you confidence in making a decision.
Step 7) Provide feedback to your agent.
While we follow a similar process at a high level with each of our clients, everyone’s needs are different. The showing process is where personalization is vital. Feedback is especially important when your virtual tour is not live.
The feedback you provide should cover two areas. First, the house itself. Our goal is to confirm your interest in the home or remove it from consideration. Discussing feedback about the home with your agent is a way to gain clarity on how you feel about the home after seeing it over video. The second area for feedback is the video itself. Did your agent move too quickly through the home? Don’t be afraid to offer feedback both in the moment, or afterward. What matters most is you feel confident making a decision on the home based on the tour.
Step 8) Schedule a second showing if you’re on the fence.
If all of the above steps are followed, this also may be the right time to view the home in person. Showing a home a second time is no inconvenience — knowing that you missed out on a home you loved is.
Step 9) Make an offer.
Once you have decided to make an offer on a home, we submit and negotiate home sales electronically. Writing and submitting offers electronically has been our current method for years now. Our team is already familiar with various digital signing platforms and can walk you through the process step-by-step with ease.
Step 10) Once you are under contract, we will move forward.
When your offer is accepted, we get to work! Our team coordinates the scheduling home inspections, repairs, and the appraisal; all of which can also be done electronically and remotely.
The home inspection is typically the first thing we work through once you’re under contract to purchase a home. We can be present to FaceTime you through the home inspection while the home inspector points out any areas of concern or you can join us in-person. Our preferred home inspectors provide a comprehensive report, with photos and clear explanation. It is also customary for home inspectors to be available for questions and conversation. Again, our goal is to meet you where you are, no matter your comfort level.
After the home inspection is completed and repairs have been negotiated, an appraiser will come to the property to evaluate the value of the home. This is not something clients or agents are typically present for, so this offers little change to our process.
Once we are through the appraisal phase, we prepare for you to close on the home. Everything from this point on can be done remotely, if required. We have aligned ourselves with local title companies that are executing remote closings.
Ready to begin your search?
Regardless of where you stand in your home buying journey, our goal is that you gained insight from this guide. Communication is a key part of this process and the Withrow Group has a team in place to handle issues before they arise while keeping you up to date throughout. Contact our team to learn more. We will pair you with an experienced agent to answer all of your questions and achieve your real estate goal. Contact us at 502-554-9449 or at [email protected] today!