How to buy a house remotely amid COVID

Tools like Google Earth, LinkedIn and mortgage calculators are key to finding real estate agents and homes.

Tim and Alison Harris were living in Houston when he was recruited in 2016 to work in the Spokane, Washington, area.

After researching neighborhoods, banks and a real estate agent online and through colleagues, the couple found themselves in a bidding war for a new home. That’s when Marianne Guenther Bornhoft,the real estate agent the couple first found online, stepped in.

“We had already left the city. And Marianne said, ‘Okay, stop your bidding. There’s another house that just came on the market. And obviously, you can’t see it. You’re no longer here. I need your absolute best offer, ’” Harris says. 

Harris found Bornhoft, a 26-year real estate veteran, while researching online real estate sites, listings, agent websites and even social media, like Twitter and Facebook. 

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While most agents seemed to post the same video tour for each house, Bornhoft’s offered more quirky details that house hunters crave, like which homes had unusual “yard art. ” Her personalized video tours revealed details that mattered to the couple, who had a three-year-old son at the time.

“So, we got the home. And we were only able to see it via FaceTime tour, ” Harris says. “In a market like this, you absolutely have to have somebody who knows what’s best for you,” Harris says.

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