Looking at Homes: Online vs. In-Person

When it comes to looking at properties, it seems simple enough, right?  Well, that depends on your approach and perspective, as the first thing you should understand is that there is a huge difference between looking at homes online and actually walking through them in person.  The two, unfortunately, are not even close to the same thing!  Let’s break a few things down to better understand why:

Living Space

Online:  It’s huge!  

In Person:  Is this a room or a closet?

Buyers are often surprised by how much smaller a home appears in person.  You see, when you look online, listing agents and photographers are only going to show you what they want you to see, and even then, they could be using extras like wide angle lenses and Photoshop to make everything look as grand as possible.  With online listings, you’re also going to miss any real perspective on the flow of a home from room to room and won’t really be able to understand how big or small things are.


Property Condition

Online:  It looks like a new home!

In person:  What’s that smell?

HDR image processing can make any home appear brand new.  But, you are not getting the whole truth from online images.  You don’t get to see and experience the bad things that bring down a property’s value.  Oh, no; you could be missing out on strong pet odors, mold, sewer/septic issues, and so much more that you just can’t experience online.  Of course, on the flip side, things that look bad in a photo might actually be really great in person.

Neighborhood and Safety

Online:  It looks so peaceful!

In Person:  Do I hear sirens?

Home staging creates a peaceful environment, but those stagings can (and just may be meant to) distract you from other important details.  Remember, whether you’re looking through the angles chosen indoors or outdoors, online images are carefully selected to crop out any bad or offputting elements.  That’s why you must always check out a property in person.  It’s smart to hang out in the neighborhood for a few hours to really get to know and have the real experience.  

Overall Aesthetic

Online:  I have a good feeling!

In Person:  What is that in the neighbors yard?!

Online listings will rarely show flaws in a property and can, therefore, give deceiving impressions.  But remember, they are always going to provide positive information, no matter the actual circumstances.  Sure, the property listed may very well be gorgeous and brand new, but then the neighboring properties could be in terrible disrepair.

To make sure this kind of misrepresentation doesn’t happen to you, here are a few real estate shopping tips we recommend when starting your search online:

  1. Don’t get too attached.  Wait until you visit the property in person.
  2. Find a good, trusted Realtor®.  Find one who will point out the pros and the cons on each home you look at.
  3. Try to be patient.  Impulse decisions in real estate can cost major sums of money and have life-altering effects.  
  4. Know how to identify real estate “red flag” terminology and other indicators that there’s something they’re not telling you.

Looking at online photo galleries should only be used to give you just enough information to decide whether or not you’d like to see a property in person.  You can’t simply assign a value to a home by looking at photos.  Instead, you have to look past the quality of a carefully curated photograph and do the real legwork.

All of this is something that a qualified Realtor can easily help you navigate. If you’re on the hunt for the perfect home in or around Chicago, IL, contact us today to get started today.

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