Last Updated: 31st May, 2021

The social distancing, quarantine and self-isolation methods to prevent the spread of COVID-19 has had an enormous impact on the way property inspections and viewings are being carried out.

Since it is not always possible for you to get physical access to the property, the real estate industry has adopted alternative methods for property inspections. Some of them are:

  • Private inspections;
  • Digital inspections or online inspections;
  • Virtual tours.

What is a private inspection?

While the government has banned open homes, potential buyers can still book a private inspection. Real estate agents are scheduling private home inspections for clients who are interested in viewing the property.

Once you’ve booked a private inspection, you will get details of the time and schedule of your private inspection.

What to look for when doing a private inspection?

While doing a private inspection of the property, you have to make sure:

  • A 1.5m distance is maintained between you and the agent.
  • Only one person is allowed per inspection (this excludes the agent). Some might allow up to two people.
  • You wash your hands before entering the property or use hand sanitizers.
  • You do not touch the surfaces of within the property.
  • If you’re doing a private inspection of an occupied home, the homeowners should vacant the property when the inspection is going on.

When to avoid a private inspection of a property?

Please note that private inspections of property should be avoided if:

  • You are showing symptoms of coronavirus.
  • You have been in contact with a person infected with coronavirus.
  • You have travelled overseas.

What are some good questions to ask before a private inspection?

It’s good to ask the following questions before a private inspection takes place:

  • How long will the inspection take due to COVID-19?
  • Will there be hand sanitizers available?
  • Will I get access to all the rooms?
  • Are there any changes to their inspection process due to the coronavirus (sanitizing high touch areas like doorknobs, kitchen surfaces, etc)

What is digital inspection or online inspection?

If you are not comfortable to viewing a property via a private inspection, then you can request a digital inspection or online inspection.

During a digital inspection, the agent will have a pre-recorded video of the property. The video will highlight key features of the property, and take you through the rooms in the house, front yard, backyard, etc.

With an online inspection, the agent and the buyer could use technology like Skype or Zoom to conduct a live virtual tour of the property.

The agent will choose a time that is suitable for you and invite you over for a digital inspection of the property.

What is a virtual tour?

Due to the ban on public inspections and open houses, virtual tours have been a great alternative for real estate agents to show their properties to a larger group.

Virtual tours offer a 360-degree view of the property including all its rooms. The buyer can view the property from different angles like they were viewing the property in person.

Pros and cons of virtual tours and digital inspections

Advantages Disadvantages
It saves time as the buyer can browse for potential properties at their leisure time, without having to schedule different times to inspect different properties. This is not a replacement for viewing the property in-person. It can be a good way to shortlist the properties you like and schedule for a private inspection with an agent.
It helps you get a genuine feel of the property, rather than just looking at photos and videos. 3D virtual tours can simulate what it would feel like as if the buyer was looking through the rooms. Some virtual inspections are limited by what they can offer i.e. it could only be videos or photographs, and not actual 3D tours.
You can go back and view the property again, without the hassle of rescheduling. Any questions you have regarding the property can be done after you’ve had a thorough view of the property. You would need to use your better judgement when it comes to inspecting a property virtually. Make sure you ask the right questions to the seller and agent.

How to do a thorough virtual inspection of the property?

  • Check if there are more photos of certain rooms or exterior than others. They might be trying to hide certain sections of the house.
  • Closed curtains in photos could be hiding a bad view.
  • If videos and photos focus too much on a certain aspect (e.g. bathroom sink), then it might be hiding other aspects (e.g. size of the bathroom is too small).
  • If the photos and videos look stretched and heavily edited, the seller or agent is disguising the size of the home.
  • Ask for more videos and footage. If possible, you might get a livestream of the property you are interested in. This gives you control over which areas you want to see more of.
  • Don’t forget to check out the neighbourhood. If possible, do a drive-by of the property or get information from property sales.

Are you ready to buy?

If you’ve set your sights on a property you’d like to buy even during the pandemic, then our mortgage brokers can help you find the right home loan that suits your needs.

We are safely working from home and can help you with any questions you have regarding home loans. Call us at 1300 889 743 or get a free assessment.