Sometimes going to view a property in person isn’t always practical. Maybe you are a property sourcer that is looking for deals in areas a bit further afield than your local area. Perhaps your local area is saturated with other property sourcers or there are not many of the type of deals you are looking for. So you widen your search to areas that you might not be able to easily get to and will take considerable journey time.
One great solution to this problem is to conduct a “virtual property viewing”. This is ideal when you don’t have the time to go and do loads of viewings but want to know whether a property is likely to be a good deal.
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What you are going to do in effect is get the vendor/seller to give you a guided tour of the property over the phone. So you ask them to walk you around the property in a systematic order and describe relevant details that will help you to build up a picture of the property. As well as getting a better idea of the condition and layout of the property, you will be building up a rapport with the seller and getting an idea of what their circumstances are.
The way to go about this is to discuss what you want them to do when you have that first contact call. You explain to them that it will save time for both sides if you do the viewing over the phone rather than in person. Tell them to pretend that you are blind and you want them to walk you round and describe every detail throughout the tour of the property. Check with them that they are happy with that arrangement and that it will help you to put an offer forward, subject to a formal inspection later on.
To make sure that every part of the house is covered off, use a viewing checklist and go through it one room at a time. Start from the front door and then go through each room in a clockwise fashion. The checklist includes flooring, walls, ceilings, everything that you will need details of. As the seller is describing each room, ask specific questions related to each room i.e. gas fires in the living room, when it was decorated, any unique parts to mention of. In the kitchen you will be asking how old it is, how many cupboards there are etc.
As well as building up a good idea of the work that might need doing, you will get an idea of how much they love their property or whether they are looking for a quick sale. Vendors rarely reveal all of the bad bits, either because they are purposefully withholding the information or they have lived in the house so long that they genuinely don’t notice it! So you might need to ask if there are any problems like cracks in the walls, damp, woodworm etc.
To make sure the call goes smoothly, set the expectations that the call should take around 20-30 mins or they could be trying to whiz you round and you won’t get the level of detail that you need.
If you think that the seller might be quite open to showing you the property through the Facetime feature on iPhones or similar, then that might be an even better way. Of course, many people might be reluctant to be on camera but if they seem okay with it then it will certainly help you get a better idea of the property. Don’t push them too much though, as some people either struggle with technology or hate being on camera!
Then you can make the offer based on all of this information you have collected and the insight you have picked up on the circumstances of the seller. You can also send an inventory clerk round to perform a check on your behalf, or there are specific companies that you can pay to view it on your behalf. If no extra work is needed then you can go ahead with the offer or if there is some work then you negotiate the offer some more.
Download the viewing checklist we’re giving for free. Virtual viewings can save you loads of time and prevent you from wasting time on properties that are not suitable for your type of deals, freeing you up to complete the more profitable deals.