Want A House? Take A Virtual Tour
By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
ONEONTA – If lockdown has you feeling like the walls are closing in, you can look for a new house – without ever leaving yours.
“The only way we can show homes is by doing it virtually,” said Betsy Shultis, Benson Realty. “We go into the house and give a tour either through Zoom or Facetime.”
In areas where internet service isn’t available, she said, realtors will film a video and post it on the home listing.
“I’ve had several inquiries on the internet for various properties,” said Rob Lee, a Benson Agency agent. “This is a time when people have the time, they’re driving by and seeing a property for sale, or they’re calling and inquiring about summer homes.”
After talking by phone or email, Lee sends a link to a virtual tour of the interior and exterior. “They also have the option to do a drive-by to complete the picture.”
Shultis prefers to give a personalized tour to each buyer. “Facetime is great because people can ask me questions about something they see in the house,” she said. “In one instance, my clients could hear the traffic in the background, which is important to a potential homeowner.”
Melissa Klein, manager of Howard Hanna, even offers 3D tours of their properties, similar to Google Earth. “You can ‘walk’ through the house,” she said.
And it’s worked.
“This area is really the sweet spot for people who, because of the virus, want to get out of Long Island, the city or even Westchester County,” said Klein. “The Catskills are getting crowded, and we’re not so far from the city that you can’t travel back down for a weekend.”
While realtors across the state have seen a significant drop in sales, Klein said that her agency, which has offices in Oneonta and Cooperstown, has seen a rise in pending sales.
“The majority of people looking right now are from out of town,” she said.
According to Lee, he’s seeing an uptick in buyers from downstate looking for summer homes. “They’re looking forward to the time they can come up and use it,” he said.
“They want space from other people,” said Klein. “They’re looking for a house with a few acres of property, not being elbow-to-elbow with anyone.”
Addi-tionally, the increase of telecommuting has given employees more flexibility about where they live. “Seeing that people can work from home is going to really affect commercial real estate downstate,” said Shultis. “So people are looking for year-round housing.”
“I’ve been getting inquiries about people who are interested in relocating,” said Lee. “They’re all renting now.”
And rates are very low, she noted. “If you’re doing a short-term loan, you could get an interest rate under three percent,” she said. “And our housing prices are already reasonable.”
All the contracts can be signed electronically, and buyers can put a clause in that allows them to withdraw their offer without penalties if a physical walkthrough doesn’t meet their standards.
“However, Shultis noted, housing stock is low. “A lot of people are waiting to list until after the pandemic,” she said. “Our supply is way down.”
But that just means it’ll be a seller’s market in a few months, said Klein. “If you’re thinking about selling your home, now is a good time to do it,” she said. “When all this ends, it’s going to be a very busy market.”