Lake Tahoe real estate has become very tech savvy over the course of the past decade, and with Covid-19, Lake Tahoe Realtors are ramping up to make sure they can meet the demand of their clients while still abiding by Shelter In Place orders. As an essential business, Lake Tahoe real estate must go on, but how we operate has definitely changed. With much of the United States being in a low inventory, high priced market, now is a great time to jump on less competition and historically low interest rates. But isn’t buying a home sight unseen risky? How do you know if the virtual tour is accurate? What if it is hiding something you’ll only find out about after you close? Can we be infected by the virus? These are a lot of questions that are circulating so we are here to help.
First thing is first: Lake Tahoe Realtors are a valuable source! If you are working with an experienced real estate professional, you can rest assured that they have your best interest at heart and won’t let you invest in something that doesn’t match your goals. They will also help you navigate each step and let you know if there are any issues with a property before you sign on the dotted line. Here are more tips to help you shop in the age of virtual real estate.
Analyze online listings and know how to look for red flags. Photos really are the first impression when it comes to searching for Lake Tahoe homes for sale. Most Realtors use a professional photographer which best showcases a listing. They are great at capturing natural light, the right angles and truly making the home look great. However, these photographers sometimes make a home look bigger than it is. So keep in mind that in person, a home may look a little smaller or darker. This is pretty standard though, if you see an image that looks a little toooo stretched out, it is possible that a seller or their agent is really pushing it with making a space look larger than it is to the point that you may be disappointed in person. Speaking of size, if certain photos focus on a focal point of a room, like a bathroom sink or specific appliance, it could mean that space is painfully small. OR! The photographer in question isn’t a pro. Either way, accurate sizing comes into question. Drawn blinds and closed curtains are a red flag. Usually, that means they are trying to hide something, be it a bad view, how close the home next door REALLY is or perhaps a broken window. Speaking of what is happening outside, if most of the photos are exterior and not interior, it could mean the property in question needs some work done inside. Definitely keep an eye out for key terms like “fixer upper”, “needs TLC” or “cozy”. These are usually nice ways of saying “needs work” and “small”. Of course, the square footage should give you a heads up on the listing information. Know this: how a house is laid out can impact how big or small it feels.
Make the most of virtual tours by having your agent share all the nitty gritty details like finishes, moldings, ceiling height, storage space, how deep cabinets and closets are, does the floor plan flow easily, etc. Lake Tahoe Realtors are skilled in paying attention to the littlest details so if there are certain features that are super important to you, ask them to report back on key issues you want to know about. There are so many ways you can virtually tour a home before scheduling an in-person appointment. Your agent can do a Facetime tour, a Zoom meeting or do a video walkthrough on their phone that they can send to you. Some sellers are so motivated they have been operating Zoom meeting tours with their listing agent, the potential buyers and the buyer’s agent. This isn’t a great fit for every scenario, but it is an option that has shown success for some folks.
Ready to see a home? Take precautions. If you have gotten through the virtual tours and really want to see certain listings to narrow down which one is the right fit, there are steps to take to keep everyone safe and healthy. Both agents will need to verify that their clients (both the sellers and the buyers) are not sick and showing any symptoms. Some are asymptomatic, so there are things that can be done to minimize exposure. First, sellers can keep doors open so buyers can see storage space and not feel the need to open things up, as they do during tours. Buyers don’t touch anything in the seller’s home. This includes handles, counters, walls, textiles, etc. Wear booties, gloves, face masks and throw them away when you are done. Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer as soon as you leave. Every area is operating a little differently. Some only allow one person in with the agent at a time, while others don’t have a maximum capacity. If a home is small, keep 6ft distance and if you need to have the agent stand at the door while you tour, that is ok. It is important to note that you may not be able to visit some Lake Tahoe homes for sale. The way a listing is shown continues to change with state governments dictating how and when they can happen. Some sellers may leave their home on the market but pause on any visitors coming in for a variety of reasons that we all need to respect, like an elderly resident or someone who is high risk or is an essential worker who is exposed every day.
Which brings us to the next point: Deep dive into those seller disclosures. This should, key word here, include any issues as well as previous upgrades. Inspections are always important, but sellers legally have to disclose all details they know about regardless which helps shine a light on things you need to know about before you proceed.
Before we sign off, you may be so focused on finding flaws in the house that you forget another key thing to investigate: the neighborhood. Every neighborhood offers something unique. Lake Tahoe Real Estate is fortunate in that there really isn’t a “bad” neighborhood. More so, there may be a few that have features you love and some you don’t. Figure out what details are important to you like proximity to work, certain schools, certain businesses and amenities like trails and outdoor recreation. Ask your local Realtor for a pros and cons lists of the areas you have pinpointed and ask them which ones you think are the best match for you.
For more information on how the Coronavirus has impacted real estate in Lake Tahoe and what that means for you, feel free to call us. We’d be happy to help you navigate this as things continue to change.