Having lived in Melbourne for eight years, James Koutsoukos and wife Rebecca had recently been considering a return to the Illawarra.
However, as they were in lockdown due to COVID-19 restrictions in Victoria, they were unable to conduct any in person inspections of properties in the region.
So the couple, both 40, improvised, and undertook a FaceTime inspection of a Mangerton property - a home they ended up buying.
The couple bought a home on Eastern Avenue, Mangerton for $1,360,000 prior to auction earlier this month.
Mr Koutsoukos said familiarity with the area, as well as advice from family members that had inspected the site gave him greater confidence.
"I grew up and lived in Eastern Avenue for 20-odd years," he said.
"I probably wouldn't buy a house in any other area without having set foot in it.
"I called Darren (Kay from agents Belle Property Illawarra) and we organised a video tour of the property.
"There were actually two properties on Eastern Avenue that we were able to do that with both the agents.
"It was rather seamless; we inspected it and bought it within a week or two.
Mr Koutsoukos said wanting to escape lockdown life in Melbourne wasn't the main motivation for looking to buy in the Illawarra.
"We grew up in Wollongong, have been away for about 15 years, and had a view to probably come back at some point, but weren't sure when," he said.
"An opportunity arose for me with work in Wollongong.
"The situation this year and the restrictions in Melbourne might have pushed us one way instead of staying here, but ultimately all our family support, a lot of our close friends and old friends of the family are all in Wollongong or Sydney."
The family hopes to be in their new home before Christmas.
"We're really looking forward to the border re-opening, because I'm actually looking to start my new position in Wollongong in December," Mr Koutsoukos told the Mercury.
Selling agent Mr Kay said in the current environment, FaceTime inspections have become more common practice, albeit more so from Sydney, interstate or international buyers.
"The two sales that we have made in recent weeks via FaceTime, both buyers had an understanding of the suburbs that they were purchasing within and had the benefit of visually seeing the property via FaceTime," he said.
"If prospective buyers are comfortable with this concept, the process is far more convenient than spending months at open home inspections or private appointments."
Mr Koutsoukos' advice for those in similar situations to theirs who were looking to buy property, but couldn't inspect them in person, was having someone close by who they can trust to inspect the property for them.
"Nothing compares to actually having that first-hand experience, and being able to take photos independently of the photos you see on the websites," he said.
"For us that was quite important.
"It's (FaceTime inspections) probably not going to be that uncommon going forward, particularly for people doing things like tree changes or sea changes."
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