Online Home Buying Tips For Remote Purchasers
The real estate market has changed dramatically in recent years. Due to demand for homes being higher than supply, buyer preferences and buying methods have had to change and more people are resorting to buying real estate online or sight unseen.
When demand outweighs supply and quality homes enter the market, they often sell fast. This sometimes generates bidding wars and buyers need to move as quickly as possible, otherwise, they could miss out.
In a hot real estate market, you may even have to submit an offer before you get the chance to tour the house in person.
This is why buying a house sight unseen has become an increasingly popular choice for buyers.
While this may be a great strategy in a competitive real estate market, buying sight unseen can have its own set of challenges.
What Does “Buying a House Sight Unseen” Mean?
Purchasing a home sight unseen means buying it without visiting the property first.
Typically, home buyers will have looked at pictures and videos online. They’re likely to take a virtual tour as well.
It may sound strange to buy a home without having set foot in it, however, buying sight unseen is becoming commonplace within the real estate market.
Why Buying Sight Unseen Has Become Popular
As more people are choosing to relocate to BC and Vancouver Island from out of province, more homes are getting bought sight unseen.
We know that prospective home buyers have to move quickly in a competitive housing market, but there are a number of reasons why buying a house online has surged in recent years.
- Physical distancing – these past couple of years have played a tremendous role in how prospective buyers make offers on properties. Why risk going into other people’s homes when it’s safer to limit physical contact?
- Modern technology can give us higher quality photos and videos than ever before. This can give a much better sense of what the home looks like.
- If you are moving from out of the area, It can be costly and time-consuming to travel to view potential homes. A remote buyer can rely on an experienced real estate agent or broker to find the best property and receive their own personal virtual tour of the home via a video chat app.
Even with a trusted real estate professional on your side, you should always choose to get a professional inspection and appraisal of the home to give you peace of mind during the process.
How To Make A Sight Unseen Home Purchase
Buying sight unseen isn’t that different in comparison to a traditional home purchase.
Instead of an in-person tour, you’re using online photos, videos, and virtual tours to help you make an informed decision.
It’s a good idea to hire an experienced real estate agent who knows the area well. Always communicate exactly what you’re looking for, and keep your list of must-haves for your dream home as refined as possible.
Think about the size, location, and house style you’re looking for. Leave out any minor details that can slow down the search process.
If there are any deal-breakers, let your real estate agent know early on. This is so they don’t waste any time looking at the wrong properties.
An experienced real estate agent will be able to deal with any issues should they arise.
Steps to buying a property sight unseen:
- Evaluate the property remotely using photos, videos, facetime or video tours and descriptions provided by your real estate agent
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage to show the current owner/seller you can afford to finance the home
- Make an official offer to purchase the property from the seller
- If the seller likes the offer and accepts it, you and the seller (or the lawyers) prepare the contract
- Both parties sign the contract
- You make a non-refundable deposit on the house
- You have the property inspected and appraised before you remove conditions (Note that buying a home sight unseen often means not even having the opportunity to do an appraisal or home inspection. This is NOT advisable in most cases!)
- If you’re satisfied with the inspection and appraisal, the sale continues and you finalize the details with your lawyer and the bank.
As with any home purchase, you’ll schedule a closing date to sign your final loan documents.
Once the mortgage is finalized, your lender pays the home seller, and the home title transfers over to you. Congratulations! You’re now the official homeowner.
Pros & Cons Of Buying A House Sight Unseen
Pros of buying a home sight unseen:
- You may purchase the property for less because you moved quickly enough to avoid a bidding war
- Virtual home tours can be helpful when buying an out-of-province home
- Virtual home tours can save money on costly travel expenses
Cons of buying a home sight unseen:
- You won’t have the privilege of an in-person tour
- You’ll have to rely on photos, videos, virtual tours, and the advice of your real estate agent and (possibly) a home inspector
- There’s a higher chance of failing to see issues with the property
- You may offer more than you’re willing to pay just to secure a home sale
While everyone wants to save money during the home buying process, don’t be tempted to cut corners on home inspections and appraisals.
It’s always going to be in your best interest to get a professional inspection, especially when you’re buying sight unseen.
Keep a close eye on the inspection report and the seller disclosures so there aren’t any surprises later.
Remember to ask a lot of questions before you purchase a home. When buying sight unseen, you’ll need to ask even more. It may feel like a burden but think of questions you normally wouldn’t ask.
Take Extra Steps To Protect Yourself When Buying a House Online
A professional inspection and appraisal is your one chance to get the current owner to cover repair costs. Or walk away if the issue is a deal-breaker.
This is why a home inspection and appraisal are so important, especially when you’re buying sight unseen. This is your best defense against any major issues the current owner may have neglected to disclose.
While sellers might not like having conditions attached to the sale, it’s a good strategy which allows you to ask for more time, negotiate repairs, or back out based on findings from your home inspection and appraisal.
Purchasing a home sight unseen is certainly riskier than the “normal” way of buying a home (i.e. doing a walkthrough and getting a home inspection and appraisal done). This is why it’s important to hire an experienced real estate agent and get a professional inspection and appraisal.
If you need an inspection or appraisal on a home in the southern and central Vancouver Island area, Contact D. Fritz Appraisals, who can provide an expert assessment of your future dream home.