Site Unseen: Risks and Factors Associated With Buying Blind
A Guide for When You Just Can’t Be There
Buying property sight unseen is a practice that is growing in popularity as the housing market continues to rise in many communities across the country. A combination of rapidly rising prices and a shortage of available properties has some property investors and potential live-in homeowners making offers on homes they’ve never set foot in.
Buying blind will never be completely without risk, but there are cases when it makes perfect sense. Property investors don’t necessarily need to view a property in person to assess its value as an investment. And, many military families moving to desirable markets or markets undergoing a housing crunch, may find themselves forced to view properties remotely and to make offers on homes sight unseen, just to get a toehold in the market.
The Potential Advantages
The potential advantages of buying a property sight unseen are predominantly financial. This is one reason why the practice seems to be gaining in popularity with real estate investors. Visiting a home or other property can be a visceral and an emotional experience. Buying remotely removes much of the emotion from the experience, allowing property investors to make a dispassionate, numbers-only type of decision.
Buying remotely can also have a potential benefit in particularly hot or tight real estate markets. It can help prospective homeowners and property investors lock in a price in a rapidly rising market without forcing them to wait until they can visit the market to make a decision.
The Potential Disadvantages
Just as the practice has some potential advantages, it has many potential disadvantages. Part of the job of the listing agent for any given property is to make the online presence of that property as beautiful and worry-free looking as possible. Strategically framing photographs to exclude problematic aspects of the property is part of the job.
Buying remotely may leave buyers dealing with terrible neighbors, a home that only looks good from a certain angle and in a certain light, or worse. In a recent article regarding the practice, The London Telegraph reported on foreign buyers who were horrified to find that their blind-purchased apartments were not on the riverfront side of their building, but on the side facing a garbage dump.
Weighing the Risks Associated With Buying Blind
Depending on your situation, you may not have a tremendous amount of control over how much you can get to know a property before making an offer from afar. If you’re a property investor, this may not be such a big deal. But, for families that intend to inhabit their new home once moving day comes, like the military families mentioned above, it can be far more problematic. Unfortunately, many markets and life circumstances may dictate the necessity of making offers on property, sight unseen.
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