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What Should You Know About Virtual Home Tours?

Starting in March, life as we knew it started shifting for most of us because of the coronavirus pandemic. Non-essential businesses were shuttered, schools were closed, and we started spending a lot more time at home.

The pandemic is still going on, despite most states being in some phase of their reopening plan, and people are doing more things virtually than ever before.

For example, some employers are saying they’ll keep their employees working remotely for the foreseeable future.

A Changing Real Estate Market?
Inevitably, these changes have impacted the real estate market. The market has been surprisingly strong through this, with mortgage rates historically low, but that doesn’t mean buyers and sellers aren’t doing things differently.

The virtual tour is one example. Increasingly homebuyers are going through the entire process online, meaning realtors are showing them homes virtually.

A survey that came out in January, before the pandemic affected America, found that prospective homebuyers preferred to work with agents offering virtual tours. The National Association of Realtors’ 2019 report called “Home Buyer and Seller Generational Trends,” found that 48% of buyers between the ages of 39 and 63 said they found virtual tours very useful as they searched for homes.

The following are things buyers, sellers, and real estate agents should know about virtual home tours.

Agents Can Go in the Home to Do the Tour
The term virtual tour is somewhat generalized, and it can refer to a few different scenarios.

In one scenario, there’s a virtual tour that’s prerecorded, and then anyone can look at it on demand.

There are also instances, particularly now, where real estate agents representing buyers will go into the home and then walk them through it live, but still virtually using something like Zoom or FaceTime.

For some buyers, this represents a better option because their agent can help them understand the nuanced details of the home that they wouldn’t have access to otherwise. If you have a real estate agent who’s doing a tour for you, it’s a much more dynamic experience.

You can ask your agent to show you closets, or provide different angles. You can also ask them to look in the backyard or to examine certain components of the house like the foundation.

What are the Pros of Virtual Tours?
Since we’re still dealing with the effects of the pandemic, one of the perks of virtual tours for buyers is that it provides them with inherent social distancing.

Some people who might be planning a move far from their current location may not even have the option to travel right now, so virtual tours are the only way for them to conduct their search.

It’s also convenient, and there’s a lot to be said for that.

When you take a virtual tour, you don’t want to spend time traveling to the property if it’s something you’re not interested in.

Even if you don’t buy your home completely sight unseen, virtual tours can save you time in the overall process.

Virtual tours can help you get a handle on what you like and don’t like as well.

What Are the Cons of Virtual Tours?
There are downsides to virtual tours. First, you don’t get the full sensory experience of a home. It sounds silly, but homes have a “vibe” and you may feel one way or another about a space when you’re there in person. You don’t feel what the ceiling heights are as an example, or what the finishes feel like.

You’re also not getting a feel for the location if you buy a home without seeing it first. You can ask your real estate agent to provide you with information and perhaps even a virtual tour of the neighborhood, but still, it’s not the same as seeing it for yourself.

Tips for Virtual Tours
If you’re a buyer, there are some things to know going into virtual tours.

First, know what to ask your real estate agent if you’re doing a live tour. For example, remember to ask about the fundamentals like the laundry room, the garage, and the storage spaces. Have your agent show you the roof and the foundation, as well as the less glamorous parts of the house like the water heater and the furnace.

If possible, even if you aren’t going to go to the home, but you live relatively close by, try to drive around and see what you think about the neighborhood.

Finally if at all possible think of virtual tours as one part of your home buying process rather than a complete replacement. They can supplement your experience and save you time, but if you have the chance to go into the home it can help you visualize yourself there.

6 GADGETS THAT WILL INCREASE HOME EFFICIENCY

For bolstered efficiency and enhanced convenience, it’s worth it to equip your home with the newest technology. There are practical smart home devices that will help you save on utility costs, ensure the safety of your home and assist in home maintenance. There are also more personalized gadgets that will help you monitor health, ensure your pet’s safety, and also provide multifaceted assistance in home management. Tailor your home with the right technology for you and your family. Here is a list of the best smart home gadgets you should invest in:

Nest Thermostat

The Nest Thermostat pays for itself with its energy efficiency programs, which yield significant savings on utility costs. The device learns the temperatures you like and will program itself in about a week with an automatic heating and cooling schedule. It also automatically turns itself down when no one is home, which saves energy. You can remotely control your Nest system from your phone, tablet or laptop. Nest will guide you toward the best temperature schedule that will save you both energy and money.

Philips Hue

Philips Hue bulbs help you control your house’s lighting via your smartphone. You can create light schedules for home automation so lights turn on when you arrive home or turn off once you’ve left. Doing this will help you reduce energy usage and also provide you with a means of remote theft deterrent. The away-from-home controls let you adjust your lights remotely. This is handy if you have forgotten to switch your lights off or if you need them on during a non-scheduled time. The Philips Hue kit is compatible with Apple HomeKit technology, which can be voice-accessed on the iPhone 6s Plus through Siri or manually through the app.

Beautiful young woman waking up with mobile alarm clock

Withings Aura

The Withings Aura is a high-tech alarm clock disguised as a sleek, modern lamp. It offers a personalized, gradual wake-up experience that will help you feel refreshed and energized. The light on the Aura provides a simulated sunrise, at your designated alarm time, for a gradual wake up. At night, the light provides optimized colors that promote the secretion of sleep hormones while its attached speaker projects soft ambient sounds that will enhance your sleep.

Amazon Echo

The Amazon Echo is a hands free speaker that you control with your voice. It can play music, provide information, news, sports scores, weather and more. You can connect the Echo to your music libraries from Prime Music, Pandora, Spotify, iHeartRadio, and TuneIn—the music will fill the room through the devices’ 360 degree omni-directional audio. Even while music is playing, the Echo can detect your voice for instruction. You can connect the Echo to your other smart home devices like the WeMo, Philips Hue, Nest, Wink, Samsung SmartThings, Insteon and ecobee.

Petcube

Keep track of your furry friend, while you’re out of the house, with Petcube. The cube contains a wide-angle lens video camera that provides HD live video so you can monitor your pet’s activity from your smartphone, tablet or computer. There is also two-way audio, which allows you to listen-in on your little friend and also chat with them through your smartphone. A built-in laser toy lets you interact with your pet so they get in some play time during the middle of your workday.

Belkin WeMo Switch

The WeMo Switch lets you remotely control the power source to your electronic devices. The switch uses your Wi-Fi network for wireless control of your plugged-in devices, like your television, stereo, heaters, fans, kitchen appliances and more. Through the WeMo app you can turn the device on or off and set schedules for them. The WeMo Switch helps you conserve energy and ensure that your home is safe from any electrical mishaps.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

Top 10 Home Apps to Download Now

With smartphones, wireless technology, and nearly continuous connectivity, the options to help you manage and upgrade your home are just a click away. Dozens of free or low-cost home apps can help with every project and chore – ranging from starting a budget-friendly luxury home design project to managing your smart home technology.

But which ones are the best to download? There are literally millions of apps available—including 1.6 million for Android devices and over 1.5 million apps for Apple devices—and it can be challenging to even stumble upon the ones that are useful. Here, we’ve gathered 10 of our favorites that are both easy to use and helpful for managing, maintaining and upgrading your home.

SnapGuide
snapguide

Snapguide app for DIY projects

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: DIY Home projects

This how-to app is a crowd-sourced guide of home design projects. It contains everything from refreshing furniture with colorful paint and homemade throw pillows to more complex projects like building a stone fireplace with a wood-burning stove or a barn door. There are also snap guides for gardening, cooking, entertaining, and more. You can show off your own handiwork by creating your own guide to share through the app.

TapPainter

tappainter-ipad-header
Tappainter app for home decor

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: Home design – painting

Adding paint in the right color can make your space feel vibrant and fresh. But it can feel intimidating to add interior color other than a new shade of white or beige. TapPainter is a home app that lets you try out new hues before shelling out for the gallons of custom-mixed color. Take a photo of your space and TapPainter will analyze the change in interior lighting and adjust the color brightness based on the lighting in the photo. You’ll instantly see if that rich red will make the room too dark, or if that bright yellow looks sickly fluorescent. And you won’t have to fear adding color on your walls.

ColorSnap Visualizer

colorsnap-visualizer
ColorSnap Visualizer from Sherwin-Williams

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home design – painting

Some of the most harmonious color combinations are found in nature—think of a beautiful mountain landscape, a beach scene, the desert, or an open field of wildflowers. With this Sherwin-Williams branded home app, you can take any one of your favorite photos and use it for paint color inspiration. The app will let you match colors in the photo into a coordinating Sherwin-Williams paint palette that will give your space a warm and inviting feel. Or use the tool to match paint colors to coordinate with existing furnishings, bedding, pillows, or anything else in your space.

Adornably

Adornably
Adornably furniture design app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS
Category: Home design

Before you invest in an expensive new sofa or any upholstered furniture, snap a picture of your space and start using Adornably to virtually redecorate. The home app allows you to place furniture and customize the upholstery to find a smart new look before you buy. Once you find a piece that looks the way you want it, you can order it through the app. Instead of waiting months to get your new furniture, the custom pieces typically leave the factory within a week of ordering.

Home Depot

home-depot
Home depot home remodeling app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home design

Start any DIY home design project, or get ideas for refreshing your space, from the comfort of your couch. This shopping and remodeling home app will help you get ideas for renovating your kitchen or bathroom, improving your outdoor space, upgrading to better lighting, installing ceiling fans, adding hardwood flooring, and more. You can make and save shopping lists, find item quickly in your local store and even check on inventory to make sure it’s in stock. Purchase items right through the app and pick them up in your local store, or have them shipped directly to your front door.

iScape

iscape
iscape landscaping app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Outdoor landscaping

A beautifully landscaped yard can give your home instant curb appeal. But before you start digging up the yard or buy several flats of flowers, you can pre-plan your gardening and landscaping with iScape. The intuitive, visual planning tool lets you snap a photo of your yard and start dragging and dropping new landscape features. You can change out the grass, add in flowerbeds, trees, planters, and lawn ornaments into your design. Once you’ve created your virtual landscape design, you can use your finished image as a guide for your own DIY project or to clearly communicate your design ideas to a hired landscaper.

SmartThings

smartthings_app
SmartThings app

App cost: Free + SmartThings kit ($300)
Platform: iOS
Category: Smart home control

SmartThings turns your iPhone into a remote control for all of your devices. You will need to add the SmartThings kit—which comes with a hub and variety of sensors—to network all of your appliances and convert them into smart devices. The system can add security with motion sensors and capture activity in your home via video. It allows you to control and automate lighting and energy settings to maximize efficiency and savings. And you can have your appliances automatically brew your coffee, start cooking dinner, or play your wakeup music on your pre-programmed schedule. And in case you leave the TV on after leaving the house, you can easily turn it off remotely via the app.

Ninja Blocks

Ninja_blocks_app
Ninja blocks smart home app

App cost: Free + Ninja Block hardware ($200)
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Smart home control

Fully connect your home to your smartphone through Ninja Blocks. The hardware and app combination allow you to seamlessly merge the controls of your smart lights, power, media, monitors and motion sensors without complicated wiring and configuration. The difference with Ninja Blocks is that it’s the ultimate device for technology enthusiasts who like to tinker. The open source platform allows anyone to code for their own Ninja Blocks. You’re encouraged to customize and hack your hardware and design the controls to work the way you want them to work.

Handy

handy_app
Handy home cleaning and repair services app

App cost: Free
Platform: iOS and Android
Category: Home maintenance

Don’t have time to clean your house, or need a little extra help to get the job done regularly? Use the Handy app to find a vetted cleaner who can take care of those chores. Their roster of experienced professionals who have been background-checked and insured, are available as soon as the next day for cleaning services. Handy’s cleaning services are currently in 35 cities, and some locations also have home repair and handyman services, such as furniture assembly, TV and shelf mounting, interior painting, and moving help.

HomeSpot HQ

HomeSpot-HQ
HomeSpot HQ home maintenance app

App cost: Free
Platform: Web-based app – all platform
Category: Home maintenance

HomeSpot HQ will help you keep track of all of your home’s maintenance and improvement projects all in one place. It delivers any reminders that you set – for example, changing the A/C filters or the smoke detector batteries, cleaning out the gutters—so that you never forget to take care of routine chores. Make to-do task lists and shopping lists and use the weekend planner to get bigger improvement projects done. The app also allows you to organize user manuals, paint colors, and part numbers in your account so you never misplace important repair information.

Do you have any favorite home apps not included in this list? Let us know about them in the comments.

Are you planning a home improvement project to prepare your home for resale? If so, be sure to contact your trusted real estate professional for advice on how to list and price your property to maximize your profit.

Position Realty
Office: 480-213-5251

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