A couple of decades ago, if you’d told someone you were planning on buying real estate sight unseen, they might have tried to shake you to your senses. Before the latest slate of digital tools (and well before a widespread stay-at-home order forced buyers to consider the option), buying remotely simply wasn’t done all that often. It was too risky.
Then, two things happened. Technology grew sophisticated enough to facilitate the process. And a global pandemic pushed consumers and agents to consider alternative ways to home hunt. Consequently, buying sight unseen peaked in popularity, remaining a relatively common way to buy homes in 2023.
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The Basics of Buying Sight Unseen
If you’re considering the prospect, here’s the good news: Buying remotely can closely resemble a traditional homebuying experience – if you approach the process thoroughly, considerately and with the help of professionals.
Basically, you’re looking out for yourself in two critical ways. First, you’re ensuring you get what you want (despite not being present to scrutinize your options). And second, you’re spotting any issues before you lay your hard-earned money down (despite not being present to evaluate a property).
To manage those demands, follow these three pieces of advice.
Technology Is Your Friend
As you weigh your options and view homes, embrace technology. Peruse listings online, carefully inspecting the photographs, floor plans, specs and other pertinent information. If possible, find listings that offer virtual tours, 360-degree photography (which allows you to swivel your way through a property) and/or drone footage (which provides an aerial view of the exterior and surrounding property).
Likewise, choose a realtor comfortable with technology, who can IM with you for real-time updates and take you on videoconference tours of various properties.
A Trusted Real Estate Agent Is Your Best Friend
If technology is your good friend throughout the remote buying process, a quality realtor is your best friend. They’re your first and last line of defence in ticking off those two basic criteria we mentioned above: getting what you want, and uncovering unseen issues.
Work with realtors who know the area like the back of their hands. For instance, if you’re buying sight-unseen in Toronto (an ultra-popular destination for remote buyers), you’d connect with Harvey Kalles Real Estate, which boasts experience, knowledge and a solid consumer-centric backbone in that city. You’re relying on your real estate agent for everything you can’t visibly determine from photos and videos – the quality of the construction, neighbourhood reputation, and even small stuff like water pressure and odour. So it’s essential to find a well-respected, well-reviewed realtor.
Connect with Experienced Appraisers and Inspectors
A seller isn’t always the portrait of good faith and transparency. They may fail to disclose issues that even your trusted realtor may have trouble spotting. These issues may lurk deep within the home’s foundations, linger in the roofing of the structure, or reveal themselves through liens on the property. In any case, doing your due diligence is imperative before laying down a sizeable down payment.
Connect with experienced appraisers and inspectors to dredge up any outstanding, undisclosed problems with the property. (Your agent should be able to pass along the names of trustworthy professionals, but a quick Google search of the area may also suffice).
If you follow these straightforward steps, you should settle in for a smooth transaction. (Well, as smooth as any real estate transaction can be). More importantly, you can rest easy knowing that your money is going toward a secure investment that you will cherish.
Read more: How Long Does a Home Inspection Take