Video tours have become an indispensable tool for house hunters in the COVID-19 era, although they do have their drawbacks—you won’t notice a bad odor through a video screen, after all.
And if there’s one room for which you really need a sense of how you’ll be able to use it, it’s the kitchen. After all, it needs to work for your needs, whether you’re enjoying a peaceful cup of coffee in the morning, putting together school lunches, baking some of that quarantine sourdough, or (someday) entertaining friends and family.
That’s why you’ll need to pay attention to the details that matter in the kitchen when you do a virtual video tour with your agent—sometimes, the smallest ones can make a big difference. Here are the things agents say you should be sure to check out over video.
1. Can you show me the room from all angles?
Even with the room dimensions in your hand, it is difficult to get a true sense of space.
Veronica Sniscak, a Realtor® and owner of VSells & Associates, in Ellicott City, MD, shows the kitchen from several different angles during a virtual tour. They include the perspective from other rooms and doorways that lead to the kitchen.
“You’ll want to know if the door to the garage is in the kitchen or if there is a bathroom off the kitchen,” Sniscak says. “Without knowing those things, [there] could be an unpleasant surprise when you see the home in person.”
2. Can you zoom in on the appliances?
If the appliances are in bad shape, the replacement cost could eat into your budget.
Open the doors and check inside for things like damaged racks, shelving, seals, and hardware.
One place buyers always overlook is the refrigerator’s surface, Gluch says. Look under all those magnets and paper stuck to it. Be sure to have your agent zoom in and check for scratches and other unsightly blemishes that will stand out once the magnets are removed.
3. How much space is really available when I cook?
It’s essential for you to get a feel for what it’s like to actually prepare a meal in the space.
“This may not seem important, but it will help you visualize how you will use the appliances in the kitchen and envision how much space you are working with,” says Sniscak.
She and her associates open cabinets, drawers, appliances, and the pantry closet, and measure countertops for their clients.
4. Can you show me a close-up of the cabinets?
The gorgeous cabinets you drooled over in the online listing might not look as good in person. Imperfections that don’t pop up on video might be noticeably prominent in person. The cabinets may be in poor condition, or upon closer inspection, they’ve actually been painted—badly.
“Ask your agent to open up the cabinets and inspect their condition, along with how much storage they have,” says Gluch.
Take note of the hardware, hinges, and style. Do they extend to the ceiling? Is there an open space above them to display pretty plates? Is there a soffit that hides wiring or pipes?
5. Can you measure the dining space?
“Have your agent measure the table or dining space to know for certain if your current dining set is a good fit—or if the dining set you have our eye on will fit,” Sniscak recommends.
She also suggests measuring bar stools at the island. It’s good to know whether you can keep your existing stools or will have to purchase new ones.
6. What kind of sink is that?
“Showing the size and style of the kitchen sink is another ‘must view’ on a video tour,” Sniscak says. “It’s important to know depth and orientation, so you will know if your current process for dishes will remain the same. Having two sections is important to some, while one large opening is better for others.”
Request a closer look at the counter surface to check the condition around the sink. Ask your agent to measure the area on both sides of the sink to determine if there’s ample room to store dish drainers and small appliances.
7. Can you shine a light on the plumbing?
Any areas that might be susceptible to water damage—such as under the sink and near the dishwasher and refrigerator waterlines—warrant extra attention.
“It’s important to run the water while making these checks to spot any leaks,” Gluch says. “This is also a good time to assess how dated or current the plumbing is and if anything was installed oddly or in a problematic fashion.”
8. What condition are the ceiling and floor in?
Ask your agent to scan the ceiling. Faded paint probably isn’t a deal breaker, but chipped paint and water stains could be indicators of a roof or plumbing leak. While your agent is showing you the ceiling, ask to get a peek at the light fixtures.
Next, examine the floors.
“Look for how much wear and tear the high-traffic sections of the floor have endured,” Gluch advises.
Is there continuity in flooring from the kitchen to the neighboring rooms, or is there a stark difference in color, stain, or wear and tear?
9. Can you show us the view outside of each window?
A light and bright kitchen is near the top of many a wish list, yet kitchen windows can be easily overlooked in a video tour. Be sure to have your agent point the camera out each window, so you can see what’s outside—especially if there’s a coveted window over the kitchen sink.
“The kitchen window might be the one that folks look out the most,” says Sniscak. “It’s important to know what you will see when doing the dishes.” Will you be staring at your neighbor’s siding or a more pleasant view?
10. Can you show us around one more time?
A close inspection of every room is important, but the kitchen ranks fairly high.
“Buyers doing a virtual video tour with their Realtor should plan on taking more time during the walk-through. It’s going to require more coordination to show you everything you would naturally scan while being in person,” says Gluch.