The shelter in place (SIP) has changed the way buyers can see homes. There aren’t any open houses, and some properties can’t be physically shown at all.
If your agent does schedule an appointment, there are a number of pre-showing requirements that you need to meet, such as signing a coronavirus property entry advisory and often submitting a preapproval letter at the list price. Once at the property, entrants must wear masks and gloves, and no more than two buyers are typically allowed in the property simultaneously.
That’s why it’s critical that you’re on board with a home’s location prior to requesting a showing. Many prospective buyers initially cast a wide net, exploring all the options within their price range. Here are my top five tips to help you do your homework before you attempt to set foot in the door:
1. Check the Google Maps street view. It’s always good to see if a property is adjacent to something you find objectionable. Maybe there’s a fire station across the street, or an unexpected commercial building next door. If you’re noise sensitive, it’s good to see how many lanes of traffic run past the property. When you search on the address, you’ll initially see the property plotted on the map. Check out the surrounding area, as well.
2. Check Google Maps satellite view. In the lower left corner of the regular maps view, you can click on the satellite view. This will give you a sense for the lot size, what backs up to the lot and what’s nearby. All kind of things can pop up, such as a train track that runs behind the property. It’s best for you to see these things up front rather than be surprised behind your mask after you’ve finally entered the home.
3. Run the property through Walkscore.com. This site continues to be a great free resource for home buyers. It shows you what retail is nearby, as well as transit and bike access. It also pulls in crime stats for the location, and the time travel map lets you see how far you can travel from the property by car, bus, bike and foot.
4. Map out your commute. Someday we’ll be going to offices again, so it’s important to take the long view with your home investment. If you don’t know exactly how long it will take to walk to BART or drive to your office from the property, map it out on Google.
5. Do a drive-by. Take a break from work and head over to the property to see what the block is like in person—as well as the immediate area. This is when you can suddenly discover that you may not want to regularly deal with the giant hill that’s between you and the nearest retail area. Or you might want to walk to the top of that public staircase down the block to see if there’s anything weird going on.