In the market? Tips for buying a house ‘sight unseen’

If you’re thinking about buying a house, you’re probably wondering how best to go about it. The truth is, you can still do in-person tours in some places, depending on the local regulations, but many people are buying homes right now without stepping foot inside until the deal is done.

“Sight unseen” deals are nothing new, but up until recently they were used mostly for foreign buyers, investors, or long-distance home shoppers. These types of remote deals have become more mainstream in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and there’s evidence to suggest they’re more than a passing trend. 

A survey from 2018 showed that about 20% of homebuyers had made an offer on a home without seeing it first. A more recent, COVID-19-influenced survey, found that 45% of homebuyers in the last year had made an offer without seeing the property in person.

In April of this year, found that “24% of 1,300 consumers surveyed said they’d be willing to buy a home without first seeing it in person.” 

If you’re considering purchasing a home sight unseen, keep these tips in mind: 

Work with the right agent

If you’re buying a house without touring it first, you have to depend on your agent to be your eyes and ears. It’s crucial that you go with a local expert, especially if you aren’t super familiar with the area. 

Take advantage of technology

Online listings with 3D home tours are up by more than 600% since the pandemic hit. Listings that have this functionality are likely to rise to the top because they give you a better feel for the home. Remember, whether you’re looking at a carousel of images or a 3D tour, don’t forget to ask your agent to go a step further. 

Then, ask for a floorplan

Today, you’re more likely to find home listings that include a floorplan image. If you don’t see one, make sure to ask. While video offers an understanding of how a home feels, a floorplan helps ensure it measures up to your needs. Knowing the layout of a home will give you some insight on what day-to-day life will be like. how you and your furniture will fit into the new space. 

Order an appraisal and inspection

Even if they’re not required, don’t skip these steps. Especially when you can’t or don’t want to tour a home, having expert and objective documentation regarding the value and condition of the home is critical.



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