Last week was a busy week for the old Penthouse Plunge. On Monday contractors remained banned, on Thursday I was agreeing to terms for work to restart (full details tomorrow), and on Friday I welcomed a CandysDirt.com reader and potential buyer for a virtual tour.
“Madam X” as I’ll call her, began emailing me in January about the penthouse and its progress. Her and her husband live up in Preston Hollow and are contemplating giving up the big house for a high-rise condo. I wish I’d had the money 20 years ago to immediately rein over a penthouse when I bought my first (fifth floor) high-rise condo (don’t be jealous, don’t be jealous, don’t be jealous).
Anyway, they’re not in a rush and the condo was in rough shape for a while – and then COVID-19 hit. With the drywall up so spaces could be understood it seemed an OK time for a first viewing.
Mad Dash Toward Virtual Tours
We’d scheduled that showing several weeks ago but with all the health concerns, we canceled. Then I read about virtual tours taking over New York real estate. Seems there was a mad dash by some agents to film properties before their shutdown. The last two weeks of March saw New York City listings with virtual tours double as agents were barred from in-person showings in mid-March. Of course, I didn’t have a virtual tour of the construction site (because, why?), but I had another idea. After all, canned video on a small screen only goes so far – and pictures are at best a thousand words, not a million bucks.
Since workers hadn’t been in the unit in weeks, any nasties they might’ve had were long dead and I’d only been in the unit once or twice to check for leaks. So I proposed that she could come by and I’d leave the door unlocked. She could FaceTime me when she got there and I’d narrate her walk-through from my unit next door.
I know, all that was missing was “… and I’ll be face down on the bed” for this to be a craigslist personals ad, but we were certainly six feet apart. She was able to see and experience the physicality of the place before workers returned on Monday. All without sacrificing my color commentary. Ha!
A Guided Tour Gets Questions Answered
At the appointed hour, Madam X arrived at the unit and called me on FaceTime. As the camera swung this way and that, I was able to explain what she was seeing and what would be there once everything was complete. The running dialogue helped me answer questions in real-time. For example, she has a dog. I was able to guide her to the window where she could look down at the Claridge’s dog park. I could explain the surrounding zoning and how the views were very protected from development spoiling the view. And of course the typical banter of any home showing in a renovation site – toilet there, vanity there, kitchen cabinets, appliances and peninsula there, there and there.
At the end of it all, about the only question left unanswered was, “What color will I be painting the walls?” It was unanswered because I responded with a question of my own, “What color do you want?”
A Novel Solution to Weed Out Deal-Breakers
This was a fun, one-off kind of thing. Regardless of the technology, short of full-blown virtual reality, most are going to want to physically be in any residence they plan to call home – regardless of whether it’s to rent or own. Personally, pictures, videos and floorplans get me to the door, they don’t get my pen on the check. I think technology is able to weed out more deal-breaker homes, but I don’t foresee a time when that shortlist isn’t viewed in-person.
And speaking of floorplans. Realtors need to produce one for ALL listings. Back in 2016 I wrote about the need for a floorplan on every listing. Clearly my advice wasn’t heeded, but COVID-19 will, for at least a time, make everyone keenly aware of being in proximity to others’ germs. Floorplans are another tool for buyers to winnow their options to the best.
The one above is my Penthouse Plunge floorplan. (Mic drop)