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Guide to Buying a House Sight Unseen

November 18, 2021
Concept of a couple and small child viewing homes online

Sure, a lot of us have bought something online without first seeing it in person. However, you may feel differently about the idea of buying a house sight unseen. A house may be the biggest single purchase you make in your lifetime. Can you trust making an offer without seeing the property first in person?

An increasing number of prospective homebuyers are finding online shopping for a home a convenient way to get started and many are even buying homes sight unseen.

The Uptick in Sight-Unseen Home Offers

Sixty-three percent of more than 1,900 surveyed homebuyers made an offer on a property in 2020 that they hadn't toured in person, according to a 2021 Redfin survey. That’s a 32% increase over the previous year in the number of people making an offer without seeing the property first.

The prevalence of home shopping tools featured on social media is one of the reasons why. Websites and applications that feature realistic photos and applications that allow users to virtually tour homes have made it a viable option.  

1. Determine if Buying a Home Sight Unseen is Your Best Option

In 2021, factors like these are driving sight unseen house sales and leading to more homebuyers making an offer without seeing the property.

  • The pandemic. Quarantines made in-person home tours sometimes impossible or impractical. Yet, many people decided their current homes weren’t working for their changing needs.
  • Rise of remote work. There may be more flexibility in where they work, but homebuyers may not want or have the time needed to travel or tour homes in person in search of the perfect one.
  • Better technology. Virtual home tours are increasingly sophisticated, providing prospective homebuyers with clear views of what their new homes will look like. Touring a home virtually versus in-person can be more convenient and save time.

When You Don’t Live in the Area in Which You Want to Buy

Some people buy a house sight unseen even when they live only a few miles away. New technology makes it convenient to get a realistic look at homes without an in-person tour. If you live in a different state or a different country, online house shopping may be the only option that works for you.

For homebuyers who are interested in buying investment property in another state or country, buying a house sight unseen may be the most efficient and timely option.

If you have a trusted friend or contact in the geographical area in which you are interested in buying, you might consider asking them to tour the home on your behalf.

2. Do Your Research

There’s a lot of research you can do online to find your new home and cut the usual time it takes to make appointments and then tour it. If it’s listed on a real estate listings site, it typically includes photos and possibly an opportunity to virtually tour the home.

Brookfield Residential’s new home listings make it easy to shop for a new home online. The site includes:

  • Detailed floor plans
  • High-resolution photos of the home
  • Video tours
  • Interactive 2D and 3D site maps
  • Itemized pricing transparency

You can also connect with a real estate agent right on the site to get started on your homebuying journey.

3. Take an “In-Person” Tour

Virtual tours are great tools for shopping for new homes, but they can only show so much. They are, after all, sales tools and cannot tell the whole story about a home. In fairness, an in-person tour may not either. 

Schedule a Home Inspection

You may want to have a licensed home inspector check out an older home prior to submitting an offer. This applies even when you’re home shopping in person.

Social media tools won’t show you potential home problems like mold, asbestos or water damage. Online tools that allow you to virtually tour newly built or model homes may be more accurate in this sense.

Hire a Realtor

Consider hiring a real estate agent in the area where you want to purchase your home. They work as your advocate to ensure you’re getting the best deal. You can also ask the agent to do a virtual walkthrough of the home and give you their thoughts on it.

4. Play it Safe

Some homebuyers shy away from moving forward with purchase offers that contain contract contingencies. However, a contingency can protect you in case something with the home you’re offering to buy is not up to the standards.

Home Inspection Contingency

A common contingency involves home inspections. If an issue comes up during an inspection, a contingency may state that you can back out of the contract or lower the home purchase price to cover repairs.

Appraisal Contingency

If the home is appraised at a lower value than the purchase price you negotiated, you can potentially back out of the deal or renegotiate the purchase price of your prospective new home.

Move-in Ready Homes

Buying a move-in ready, new home from a reputable home builder can help ensure you won’t have unseen and potentially costly repairs that can come with buying older homes. Consider whether building or buying your next home is right for you.

Buying Sight Unseen Could Benefit You

If you’re comfortable with the choice of home you want to purchase, buying sight unseen could be an advantage in today’s competitive home market. It lets you make an offer quicker and potentially avoid a bidding war with other homebuyers. Motivated home sellers are known to readily take early offers if they’re anxious to move.

Learn More About Building Your Next Home

A new construction home is no longer limited to those with high incomes. Brookfield Residential builds single-family houses, condos and duplexes in locations that meet the needs of today’s changing lives. You can virtually tour homes in an area in which you have interest.

Brookfield is an award-winning, master-planned communities developer. Contact us today to further explore Brookfield Residential communities.

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