And now, the $64,000 question on the mind of all homebuyers during the coronavirus shutdown: How does anyone buy an apartment without ever having set foot in it?
Answer: Easy, because there’s no other way. Since stay-at-home and social-distancing orders were enacted in New York in March, video tours have quickly become the standard way to see available apartments, the New York Times reports. On StreetEasy, the number of listings with video tours jumped 132 percent from March to April as the coronavirus was aggressively spreading through New York City.
But not all video tours are created equal. While the luxury market is full of well-produced montages, many videos are short on useful information. Some show grainy footage of a hallway or other common areas. Others are dark, show cluttered apartments from odd angles, or zoom in on certain features without showing the whole room. The experience is certainly not uniformly enlightening, and if that’s all you’ve got to go on, it means taking a leap of faith with a lot of money at stake.
Buyers are advised to take the time to study floor plans, parse the details of the video tour and ask their broker specific questions about space and light. “There is no need to rush,” says Kemdi Anosike, a salesperson at Warburg Realty, because apartments “are moving slowly.”
So what happens if you sign the contract, get the keys and are unhappy when you arrive? A contract is a binding agreement – if you sign one for an apartment sight unseen, you are assuming the risk that you might not like what you get. Therefore, many brokerages are requiring buyers to sign a liability waiver, which explains that buying a home sight unseen poses risks, and a broker can’t verify that the information in the photos or videos is accurate.
Ultimately, virtual tours are probably here to stay, even once the state loosens the lockdown. “Those days of bringing 20 people into an apartment to help you make a decision are over,” Anosike says. “The days of open houses are over.”
Engage, enrage, ask questions and give answers with your community of board members. Submit your questions and comments here!
Co-op and condo board business broken down into bite-sized bits - 2 stories each week. Read now on all digital devices.
A free digital resource for co-op/condo board directors. Published twice a month. Read now on all digital devices.