Ever since Covid-19 hit the news a matter of months ago, the process of buying a house without having seen it has been growing in popularity. While once an entirely alien procedure to anyone without a vetted interest and a wealth of experience in buying property, buying a home ‘sight unseen’ has swiftly become an acceptable way of buying a home in the current climate.
Like with most things in life, buying sight unseen can be something of a risk, and there are, of course, certain things to take in consideration if you’re thinking about venturing down this path. From being sure of your criteria to working with a real estate agent you trust, here are five expert tips for buying a home, sight unseen.
Do your research
The first step anyone should take before they even think about buying a property – sight unseen or not – is to do thorough and methodical research. Even having a fairly tight budget shouldn’t deter you from looking beyond the bounds of what you think is reasonable to find within your price bracket. Don’t only look at real estate listings; but get into the habit of looking at local tourism boards and forums that will give you a better and more holistic idea of what different areas are like to both live and invest in.
Have strong standards in place
Before you even begin your search, it’s vital that you have a solid idea of exactly what you’re looking for. Whether the property is for you to move into or for a rental investment, be sure to have some non-negotiables in place, and learn to be flexible on some aspects; while rigid on others.
Buying sight unseen is a process rooted in research and knowing whether or not potential properties tick off certain boxes on paper is a crucial part on finding the right home for your wants and needs.
Focus on areas with strong growth drivers
Important factors to take into account when determining the best areas to look at are growth rates over a longer period of time; planned or ongoing council developments; council regulations; building and strata inspections; vacancy rates; demographics; holding costs; and possible income and deduction calculations.
Work with a real estate agent you trust
Prior to even beginning your property search, reach out to some real estate agents in the area you’re hoping to buy in, and give them a call for an informal and obligation-free chat. There may be someone that you instantly hit it off with, and in whom you can put your trust when it comes to finding your dream property. Both their knowledge of the housing market and because they will know the lay of the land better that you will put you in a stronger position as a buyer, and they too will be able to make you aware of any potential downsides to the location that the vendors may have left out of their descriptions.
Do independent verifications
If you’ve found a property you want to purchase, before you close the deal take some time to do a couple of independent verifications. Try phoning local councils and real estate agents to get a better feel for the area, and do some more due diligence online before you sign a thing. Utilise your social circle and see if a friend of a friend might live close by, and – if so – whether they would be happy to answer any questions about the neighbourhood.
While buying sight unseen might seem like a massive risk to many, by taking measured steps and extra precautions, it might just land you your dream home.