24-Hour Listings: What You Need to Know About Buying Sight-Unseen

by Carson BuckJuly 9, 2018

What You Don’t See Can Hurt You (If You’re Not Careful)

Buying anything sight-unseen is always a risk, but when the “thing” you’re buying is a house, then the risks are about as high as they can get. For starters, the home may have hidden problems that the buyer won’t know about until they see the property in person. For example: the roof could have leaks; the HVAC system may not work; or, there may be an insect infestation.

While a home inspection can help the buyer gain a better idea of what the home’s quality is like, it is in no way a guarantee that there aren’t going to be issues.

Despite this, many home buyers and investors are willing to take on the risks of buying a home sight-unseen. For some buyers, it is just the fact that they live some distance away from the property and they either don’t have the time to visit or need a home quickly because they’re relocating to the area. For an investor, buying a home without seeing it can sometimes wind up being a good move. Of course, investors usually ensure they include contingencies in their contracts to protect their financial investments.

But what can a regular homebuyer do to protect themselves when they’re in the position of having to buy a home without ever seeing it in person? Here are some tips to help ensure the home you’re buying is worth it.

home buying sight unseen

Use a Reputable Agent

The agent you choose to work with will have a big impact on your satisfaction level throughout the process. Therefore, you need to do your research so you can find an agent in the area where you’re looking to buy – one who is experienced, knowledgeable, and well-respected.

Make sure you check their social media pages and online reviews from past clients. You can even ask them for references, preferably recent clients, to contact, so you can learn more about how strongly the agent works for his or her clients.

Take Advantage of Technology

There’s an unfortunate growing trend in the real estate industry in which the photos uploaded for display on online listings are manipulated via Photoshop or other editing software. Rooms are made to look larger then they are. Colors and textures are made more vibrant. Dark rooms can be illuminated by computer-generating artificial lighting effects. Therefore, what the buyer sees online is often not the reality they find when they finally visit the property.

To prevent this misrepresentation, use technology like FaceTime, Google Hangouts, or other video chat programs so your agent can give you a real-time virtual tour of the home. This will help give you a better idea of the size, scope, and quality of the home’s interior, exterior, and property.

home buying sight unseen

Send a Representative to See the Property for You

If you have family or trusted friends living in the area, then you can ask them to visit the property and provide you with their honest take on it. If possible, send someone who knows your tastes, preferences, and DIY skills. The individual can also serve as the liaison between you and your agent.

Get the Home Inspected

A professional home inspection will go a long way toward you determining whether the home is a sound investment or a money pit. While a home inspector won’t be able to tell you if something is about to malfunction, they can let you know about the state of the roof, the HVAC system, the plumbing and electrical systems, and other common concerns. The inspection report will also serve as a strong negotiating tool if the home does have some problems that will need to be fixed before you take ownership.

home buying sight unseen

Always Include Contingencies

When buying a home sight-unseen, you are the only party in the transaction that is taking a risk. Therefore, you need to protect yourself by including contingencies in your contract. This way, you will have more room to deal with any unexpected problems or negative information you uncover while doing your due diligence. In bad situations, a contingency can even help you walk away from your contract without accruing any excess costs or legalities.

Find the Home You Want on Homes.com

Homes.com offers home listings for every city in the United States. So, if you are looking to relocate, we can help you find the home of your dreams in your soon-to-be new city. We can even match you up with a preferred seller’s agent in the area where you’re looking to buy. Give us a try today and see for yourself why so many buyers find their homes with Homes.com.

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About The Author
Carson Buck
Carson is a real estate agent based out of Phoenix, Arizona. Carson loves data and market research, and how readily available it is in today's world. He is passionate about interpreting these insights to help his clients find and buy their perfect home. Carson got into the real estate industry because he loves the feeling of handing over the keys to a new home to happy clients. In his free time, he works on his backyard bonsai garden and spends time with his wife, Julia.