Top Tips For Buying A Home Sight Unseen

Written by Jaymi Naciri Posted On Sunday, 16 August 2020 05:00

If you’re thinking about buying a house right now, you’re probably wondering how to go about it. The truth is, you CAN do in-person tours, depending on local regulations in the area in which you are buying. But many people are buying homes right now without stepping foot inside until AFTER the deal is done.  

“While sight unseen deals have always existed, mainly among foreign buyers, investors and home shoppers who are moving long-distance, such arrangements might spike in popularity, especially as the coronavirus lingers on with predictions for a second wave of infections,” said WTOP. “According to a survey by home repair company Helitech that outlines the effects the coronavirus has wielded on housing, one in three respondents said they would consider purchasing a residence sight unseen.”

A survey from 2018 showed that about 20 percent of homebuyers had made an offer on a home without seeing it first. A more recent, COVID-19-influenced survey found that 45% of homebuyers in the last year had made an offer without seeing the property in person. found that “24% of 1,300 consumers surveyed said they’d be willing to buy a home without first seeing it in person.

If you’re considering purchasing a home sight unseen, these tips will help. 

Hire the right agent

If you’re buying a house without touring it first, you have to depend on your agent to be your eyes and ears. It’s crucial that you go with a local expert, especially if you aren’t super familiar with the area. 

“Hire an agent who’s well-versed in the area and working with long distance clientele,” said HomeLight. “Having an excellent agent by your side is critical in any home buying situation. But when you buy sight unseen, you’re putting another layer of trust in this person.”

Take advantage of technology

Check out a 3D home tour on Zillow lately? You’re not alone; they’re up by more than 600% since the pandemic hit. Listings that have this functionality are likely to rise to the top because they give you more of a feel for the home. But whether you’re looking at a carousel of images or a 3D tour, don’t forget to ask your agent to go a step further.   

“Once you know which homes you’re most interested in, have your agent book some showings and take you along on the tour using FaceTime,” said HomeLight. “Sounds simple, but what’s great about FaceTime is that you can get a better idea of the flow of the house and ask your agent questions in real time as they walk through each room to really get a feel for a property.”

Ask for a floorplan

You’re more likely to find home listings that include a floorplan image today, given the whole social distanced thing. If you don’t see one, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Yes, a video tour of the homes you’re interested in will give you the best feel for how the homes live,  but being able to refer to the floorplan to ensure it meets your needs will be invaluable.

“The layout of a home is fundamental. For example, having a dining room attached to a kitchen versus on the other side of the house can change things,” said Great Colorado Homes. “Having a printed floor plan can reveal what the day-to-day activities in a home might look like. If you can get your hands on a floor plan of the home that you're interested in, it will help you understand the house better. The more info you have, the fewer surprises you're likely to experience.”

Order an appraisal and a home inspection

Even in cases where they’re not required, you don’t want to skip these steps. Especially when you can’t or don’t want to tour a home yourself, having expert documentation regarding the value and condition of the home is more important than ever. 

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