Posted by Sedgwick’s temporary housing division on
The world has become a less accessible place during the COVID-19 pandemic. This causes many day-to-day inconveniences, but in some situations, it can cause major life issues. Moving to a new home, for example, is not typically a process you would voluntarily undertake when you can’t tour homes. But unfortunately, people sometimes have no choice. Fires, water damage, and many other disasters can befall a home and leave a family displaced, despite the pandemic, leaving them with no choice but to look for a new home. However, with the social distancing rules and quarantine restrictions in place, it can be difficult or and potentially unsafe to schedule an in-person tour.
Of course, that doesn’t mean that you are left with no options. Virtual tours have become a major part of the home-purchasing and rental process, and they can be a valuable tool if you know how to approach them. That’s why we’ve outlined a few questions that you can ask to make sure that you’re getting the best possible insight into your new home before you actually make a move.
1. How does the house look in comparison to the listing?
Everyone knows that online photos are not necessarily reliable. They are typically edited to be brighter, taken at the best possible angles, and are generally not designed to give a truthful look at the home. They’re a marketing tool designed to make you want to purchase the home! But if you go in knowing this, you can ask your real estate agent about how each room looks compared to the online pictures. You can also ask them to take note of any damage, including chipped paint, scratches, older appliances, and discoloration on the walls. You should also ask if the measurements match up to the floor plan in case there were any mistakes that would lead you to think you are getting more space than you actually are.
2. What does the foundation look like?
The foundation of the home is the cornerstone of its design, and if there’s damage or wear to the foundation, you’re likely going to experience some unpleasant surprises once you move in. Infrastructure issues are major risks, and if the foundation looks less than perfect, that’s a reason to ask yourself whether this home is right for you.
However, even if the foundation looks fine, you’ll want to know which materials and construction techniques were used so you can do your own research. Knowing what kind of foundation practices were used means you can calculate risks and factor them into your decision-making process. For instance, a home built with wood-frame building techniques might be a popular approach, but in reality, there are quite a few problems that come with a wood-based foundation. Wood framing is more susceptible to pests, fires, and general degradation. When you ask about the foundation of the home, ask about studs, framing, and any other materials that could potentially cause problems down the road.
3. When was the house built and remodeled?
This question might seem standard, but it is vitally important that you make sure you know how long the home has been standing as is. You’ll need to know how new the home is, what upgrades have been made, and what modern technology has been installed. Renting any new property without seeing it is risky, but especially if it’s an older property that might have some issues simply from age. If you know that a brand-new heating system was installed 2 years ago but that the water heater is 10 years old, you automatically have more insight into what types of upgrades may have to happen at the property down the road. Specifically, you’ll want to make sure you ask about the age of the HVAC system, the electrical system, and the plumbing.
4. What is the neighborhood like?
Doing your research on the neighborhood is an important part of making your decision. Beyond school districts and neighbors, knowing what the aesthetic of the neighborhood is and what kind of environment you’ll be living in is important. Ask if there is a homeowner’s association, what kind of rules are in place, how walkable the area is, and what kind of noise you might need to expect around your home from traffic or other factors.
5. Ask about the smaller details.
As mentioned above, smaller details aren’t going to get captured on video or in the photos. It’s far easier to hide unattractive features when someone isn’t going through the house themselves looking around. So, you’ll want to ask about them.
A few things you might want to request more details on include:
Crown molding on the floors and ceilings
Any discoloration to the ceilings, floors, or walls
Grout or tile in the bathroom
Any unevenness to the flooring
Any problems with windows or doors
Since you can’t be thorough in person, asking if there are any issues you should know about is definitely a step you should take during a virtual tour so you make sure you don’t miss anything.
In the wake of the pandemic, Sedgwick’s temporary housing division has taken additional steps to make sure that policyholders feel safe and have the options they need to find new places to live. Our COVID-19 protocols make it safe and easy. We work closely with landlords and property managers to prepare for virtual tours and make sure our policyholders have the access they need to investigate their new accommodations. Whether our virtual tours are live-streamed or pre-recorded, we make certain that a policyholder has the opportunity to ask all of the questions they might have with either a landlord or a property manager. It is our mission, as always to make sure our clients have everything they need to be safe and comfortable.