Buying a home sight unseen is not new. Recent polls of homebuyers have shown that over 20% have submitted offers without stepping inside the home. Similar surveys have also shown that about 50% of Millenial buyers have submitted offers without visiting the home first. Older generations are open to the idea as well. As technology advances, buyers are becoming less trepidatious about it.
As this very challenging first quarter of 2020 closes, we find ourselves in a much different world. The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a monumental shift in the way that we do everything. The good news is that consumers and businesses are adapting to this “new normal” of social distancing. The housing market is no different.
If you are willing to do your research, use available technology, and trust the pros ‘on the ground’, then you will be able to purchase your dream home sight unseen confidently. This is our ultimate guide to buying a home sign unseen.
Performing your due diligence is required when buying a home whether you view it in person or not. Here is a list of the things that you should be looking into carefully.
There are various ways to do reconnaissance on a given neighborhood. To get a visual on the area that you plan to buy a home, we recommend visiting in person if possible. If you aren’t nearby, use the street view feature on Google Maps to virtually cruise through the neighborhood. Doing this will allow you to see the community from the street level. You will also be able to navigate the area to see what businesses, parks, schools, shopping areas, etc. are close by.
Another way to get acquainted with your target neighborhood is to join local Facebook groups or connect on Nextdoor. These platforms will allow you to connect with people that live in a specific area that you are considering. What better way to get intel on the community than communicating with its residents.
A website such as NeighborhoodScout.com will provide you with a wealth of information about the area. This site offers detailed info about the local real estate, demographics, schools, crime, and more.
The Homeowner’s Association
If you are considering a home in an HOA, do plenty of research about the association. After all, this is where you will be living, therefore, you want to make sure that you are 100% comfortable with the rules, regulations, and costs.
Work with a Local Realtor®
Hiring an experienced local real estate agent is crucial when buying a home sight unseen. Your agent will be instrumental when it comes to gathering information about the homes that you are interested in. A local pro will know the area, neighborhood, and home values very well. Your agent will also be able to help you view the home virtually. Here are the top ways that your Realtor® will bring you value when buying a home sight unseen.
A local Realtor® will be instrumental in helping you obtain all relevant information about homes you are interested in. They will gather information such as home value, HOA info, local conditions, room measurements, and more.
First Person Experience
If you are unable to visit the home in person, your agent will communicate the ‘first-person experience’ to you. They can tell you things that you can’t discern by looking at photos. Ask your agent to visit the home at various times of the day to report what they see, smell, and hear. This will give you an idea of the various levels of traffic/neighborhood noise, natural lighting, and expected odors.
It is likely that online marketing photos will be how you first see the interior of any home for sale. Since these photos are often digitally enhanced, they are not the most accurate representation of what the home actually looks like. Marketing photos can skew lighting, colors, room sizes, and even the floor-plan. Your real estate agent can provide more accurate digital media to help you see the home in a more realistic way. Ask them to provide photos and video taken with their cell phone. A video walk-through taken with a smart-phone can give you a good idea of how the floor plan is laid out. Other digital media such as a 3D home tour will allow you to view a home as if you are walking through it yourself.
Once your offer is accepted, you will need to perform inspections. There may also be a need to hire local contractors and service providers for your home after the sale. Your local agent can provide great value by referring reputable home inspectors, pest inspectors, handymen, and painters among others. Hiring a great home inspector that is able to provide their findings to you digitally. This due diligence will allow you to learn a lot about your home that can’t be seen in person or via digital means.
Other Technology Used When Buying a Home Sight Unseen
In addition to using technology to learn more about a home, it will also be used to complete the purchase. The process of the transaction will require diligent use of email, phone, video calls, mobile notaries, digital signing. money wiring, and more.
Buying a home sight unseen is not an ideal situation, but the use of technology and working with local professionals can remove many associated risks. Whether you are buying sight unseen due to social distancing during the COVID 19 pandemic or for more traditional reasons, you can do so with confidence if you use all available resources at your disposal.