Nova Scotia

Buying a house without stepping foot inside? No problem, say these realtors

Virtual tours and drone imagery are allowing prospective buyers to have out-of-province viewings.

More buyers are relying on drone imagery and Zoom calls to scope out their future homes

With travel restrictions in place, out-of-province buyers can't always visit the properties that pique their interest. That's where drones and virtual tours come in. (Trevor Pritchard/CBC)

Nova Scotia realtors are relying on technology to sell homes in the province as a growing number of would-be buyers look to put down roots sight unseen during the pandemic.

Sydney realtor Cheryl Vickers said virtual tours and drone photography allow a client to tour a property from anywhere in the world. 

"People get to see a 360-degree view and a virtual tour and an aerial view with the drones over top of the property — so it's quite engaging," Vickers said.

A different kind of house viewing

Due to travel restrictions, Vickers said more people are choosing to buy a home or plot of land without ever stepping foot on the property. 

In addition to virtual tours, agents are also bringing clients into homes through video chats on Facebook or Zoom. 

"Seeing it in person is the most ideal situation," Vickers said. "The 360-degree [virtual tour] can provide the three-dimensional view of the property and the space. And people seem to be quite happy with the benefit they can have from that."

Vickers credits reasonable prices and acreage as some of the reasons why people are showing interest in rural Nova Scotia.

Large plots and reasonable house prices are drawing buyers to rural Nova Scotia, says Vickers. (Jane Robertson/CBC)

She expects to see an influx of people once travel restrictions begin to ease.

But selling homes to outside buyers does present some additional challenges for agents, Vickers said.

"It puts a lot of pressure on the real estate agent because they have to find out as much information for the purchaser as they possibly can, because they're not able to tour the house themselves."

Adding to the strain is the fact that there are few homes on the market for purchase at this time.

Virtual tours in demand

Mark Voutier of Island Aerial Media said drone photography was already growing in popularity, but virtual tours have taken off since the start of the pandemic.

The Sydney businessman provides 360-degree viewing of homes, along with aerial drone imagery of buildings and surrounding landscapes. 

A specialized camera is used in this type of photography that relies on multiple lenses to capture a wide area. The user can then stitch images together into one spherical view. 

Voutier said a virtual tour places a homebuyer inside the property they are considering. 

"You're standing in the centre of the home and you can look around, you look at the floor, you look at the ceiling," he said. "Move on to the next room — same thing. It doesn't hide much. It doesn't lie. It is what you see."



Erin Pottie


Erin Pottie is a CBC reporter based in Sydney. She has been covering local news in Cape Breton for 15 years. Story ideas welcome at


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