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Virtual home tours make it possible to hunt for a new apartment even in the age of social distancing.

COVID-19 has disrupted so much about life in NYC, including the usual ways we find a home. But for anyone who needs to move right now — or just wants to keep an eye on the market — StreetEasy offers a number of ways to shop for your next home without ever leaving your current one.

Social distancing regulations in New York and New Jersey mean that traditional open houses and private tours are off the table. But virtual tour options can be surprisingly effective. Here are some great options for virtual home tours in NYC — ways to check out a new apartment without ever leaving your own.

Walkthrough Videos

Walkthrough videos are just what they sound like: An agent or a seller takes a video tour of the unit (or a similar one), giving you a feel for the space that’s much richer than what you’d get from listing photos alone. These videos appear right in the photo carousel on StreetEasy listings, after the still images.

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Walkthrough videos can give you a surprisingly complete feel for an apartment.

Wondering what a quick YouTube or Vimeo clip could show that the photos can’t? You’d be surprised. The most helpful walkthrough videos often start outside the apartment — even sometimes outside the building — and show what it’s like to walk up the stairs or take the elevator, enter through the front door, stand in the kitchen, look out the window, and more. They’ll show you how big the closets are, and even that the appliances are clean and functional.

If you’re conducting an apartment search remotely, walkthrough videos are a huge help. They can also be pretty fun.

3D Home Virtual Tours

3D Home® virtual tours are a new tool StreetEasy offers that goes far beyond listing images or videos by creating a multidimensional experience that you can move through just like a live tour. Where available, 3D Home tours are now featured right on a StreetEasy listing page, just under the photo carousel.

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3D Home virtual tours let you feel like you’re there — even when you’re not.

Launching the 3D tour, you’ll be taken to a full-screen view of the unit that allows you to move to different rooms and pan around inside them. Wondering how bright that kitchen is, or how big the living room will feel? A 3D Home tour will give you the best sense of space and atmosphere you can get without actually being there. (For those looking to sell or rent their own homes, or who are agents, note that creating a 3D Home tour for your listings is simple with the free Zillow 3D Home app.)

Video Chat Tours

Under the latest state guidance, some functions of real estate are now considered essential business, including home showings. With this, agents and brokers are permitted to visit properties to conduct video chat tours and show properties virtually. In these tours, an agent holds a call over FaceTime or other video chat app and walks around the apartment, showing it to you live.

One advantage these have over other virtual tour options is that you can ask the agent to show you things right then and there: How deep is that closet? Can you turn on the faucet? How big is the oven? Also, while listing photos and walkthrough videos are often taken when daylight in a unit is optimal, you’ll be seeing the place whenever the agent can show it — which might give you a more realistic perspective.

If you’re requesting a video chat tour, remember that agents may not feel comfortable traveling to an apartment to show it right now, especially if it’s far away. As with everything right now, remember that safety for all involved is the highest priority.

Need More Info? Contact the Agent

If you want more details on an apartment, or if the alternative tour methods above aren’t available for the unit you’re looking at, contact the agent on the StreetEasy listing. Professional agents have a wealth of knowledge about listings, buildings, neighborhoods, and much more.

In this uncertain period, the expertise of a real estate pro can be highly reassuring. And they’re eager to help, whether you just have a simple question or are looking to take action on a listing.

Inspired to find your next place in New York? Whether you’re looking to rent or to buy, search NYC apartments on StreetEasy.