With the mandate to practice social distancing and staying home whenever possible, buying a house is going to become more interesting than ever before. Part of choosing a home relies on going into the home and looking through each room and viewing the entire property. But if you have to maintain distance — or worse, if you suddenly find yourself under a shelter-in-place order — how do you see these homes?
Try Video Tours
Open houses aren't going to be feasible in many places due to these orders, but a video tour of each room could help. These could show off homes in general, giving you an idea of what the places look like when you move from room to room or see light shining through a window. Pictures in real estate ads are often cleaned up and taken by professional photographers, but a video tour led by the seller and agent can give you a much more human look at what the home is really like.
Individual Showings Might Still Be Possible
Once you see homes on video that you might like, you could try arranging for an individual showing if there are no shelter-in-place orders. The home-buying process could take a bit longer that way, but everyone will be dealing with the same issues, so you shouldn't face too much of a disadvantage by taking longer. When you're at the individual showing, remember to keep several feet between you, the agent, and the seller, if the seller is present.
You May Want to Use Videoconferencing With Your Agent When Possible
In terms of meeting with your agent to discuss what you need, you may want to resort to videoconferencing when you can. Chat and conferencing agents abound, from simple Skype to programs linked to social media platforms. These allow you to limit in-person contact to only those times when you absolutely have to complete transactions off-line. You can even send contracts back and forth through email to review them, too. You may still have to meet in person a few times for major events like final contract signings, but you can still move a lot of contact away from in-person meetings.
Eventually, people will once again be able to gather in groups, and open houses and frequent in-person meetings with your real estate agent will once again be possible. Until then, look into remote contact as much as possible — it is very easy to see homes and narrow down which ones you really want to look at without going there in person.