5 Questions You’ll Regret Not Asking on a Virtual Apartment Tour

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It’s official: My search for a new apartment has begun. Like many Apartment Therapy readers, I actually enjoy spending my free time poring over listings within my budget. But I’m pretty nervous about doing it all virtually. (I’m still not completely comfortable meeting up with a stranger to tour a rental because of the whole, you know, global pandemic.)

These days, it’s easier than ever to go on a virtual tour of an apartment, and many listings will offer 3D renderings of a space to give you a more detailed look. Still, there’s only so much a FaceTime call or video will show you — and I’m worried I’ll miss some glaring issue and regret signing my lease.

To figure out the must-ask questions during a virtual apartment tour, I consulted a few real estate brokers who shared what their clients often forget to ask. Here’s what they said. 

How much noise is there on an average day?

Even over video, it’s tough to get a sense of how noisy an apartment truly is. Dylan Brush, a Los Angeles-based real estate agent with Compass, says you should ask where the unit is located in the building. You’ll want to know how many shared walls the apartment has “because you don’t know who’s above you or one the sides,” he says.

Rebecca Blacker, a broker at Warburg Realty in New York City, agrees and adds that it’s important to figure out if you’ll be able to hear things like blaring sirens and other outdoor noises.

Can you show me the laundry room?

If you plan on renting a place that doesn’t have in-unit laundry, Brush says you should ask to tour the common laundry room if one exists. He’s seen buildings that have six to 10 units in them, but the laundry room will only have one washer and dryer that’s coin-operated. This is manageable, of course, but you want to make sure you know what you’re getting into in advance.

Could you zoom in for a close up?

It’s all in the details — and photos don’t show everything, says Kate Ziegler, a realtor with Arborview Realty in Boston. She advises asking your agent to show features like the ceiling height, light fixtures, and shots of the windows so you can get a sense of how old they are. Seeing these features up close isn’t always an option in listing photos and videos. Blacker echoes this and says to request close-ups of the finishes like the moldings, doors, and countertops for a more in-depth look.

What does the view look like?

While your real estate agent can certainly show you the space, you’re also going to want them to walk over to the window and show you the view you’ll be seeing every day. Is it a brick wall? A busy street? Blacker also recommends asking your realtor to turn off the lights to get a sense of the natural lighting.

If you’re unfamiliar with the area, you can also use online tools to see the neighborhood. “Google Street View is a really great tool for anyone looking at property remotely,” Ziegler says. “You just get a sense of what’s going on.”

Could you turn on the shower?

It might feel weird to ask your agent to turn on the shower or check the central air, but it’s a good idea to make sure everything is in working order. As Brush says, nothing is worse than finding an apartment you love, but only later realizing you can’t get the shampoo out of your hair because of bad water pressure.

“It’s always a little difficult in a virtual tour because you can’t feel it for yourself, but make sure everything is working in the right condition,” Brush says. “I’ve turned showers on for people so they can see that [water] is not dribbling out the top.”