What you need to know about buying a house sight unseen

Published Date: January 5, 2023

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Thanks to consumer-friendly technology, buying a house online has become common — especially in competitive and desirable real estate markets. Every step of the purchasing process can be done virtually, but what are the pros and cons of buying a home sight unseen? We answer that, and offer tips for buying a home virtually.

What is buying a home ‘sight unseen’?

Buying a house sight unseen means purchasing a property without touring it in person. Instead of being physically present, you walk through the home on a virtual tour and experience it through pictures, video clips or 3D models. Making an offer on a home sight unseen has become increasingly popular due to low inventory and Covid-19 precautions.

What are the pros of buying a house sight unseen?

Buying a home is an important decision — especially if you haven’t seen the property in person. However, buying a house sight unseen offers distinct advantages: You can move fast in the market. If you’re looking to jump on a home, buying a home sight unseen can help you move quickly. While other buyers might be scheduling in-person tours, you’re already viewing your home of interest online and putting in an offer. It offers convenience. With virtual tours and walkthroughs, you see a home at a time that works for you and avoid having to be physically present in a home.You can save costs. You can save time and travel expenses by browsing and purchasing a home completely online. This is helpful if you’re buying a home out of state, since you don’t have time to physically visit a home. 

What are the cons of buying a house sight unseen?

Although buying a house sight unseen has its benefits, there are potential cons to putting an offer on a home that you haven’t seen in person:Missing the vibe. While a video walkthrough or 3D tour is helpful, it can be difficult to gauge the size of rooms and how the home feels without being there in person.No feel for the community. Unless you’ve visited the community where the home is located, you might not know if the neighborhood is right for you. You can’t experience home amenities. Virtual tours sometimes don’t capture the full experience of a home — you can’t dip a toe in the pool, sit down by the fire pit or enjoy the other bells and whistles that make it easy to say “yes.”

How to buy a house site unseen

Here are steps to ensure you have a smooth and positive experience with buying a home (or second home) sight unseen.

1. Work with a trusted real estate agent

An important step to buying a house virtually is having a good real estate agent. A qualified and experienced agent can help smooth out every step of the purchasing process and provide expertise in negotiation, communication, and knowledge of real estate and of the community where you plan to buy. 

2. Get pre-approved

Pre-approval involves determining how much money you can borrow to buy a home. Getting pre-approved can increase your chances of getting your offer accepted and help you stand out from the crowd.

3. Take a virtual tour of the home

When you buy a home sight unseen, you should take advantage of all tour opportunities to get a complete picture of a home. This can include taking virtual tours, conducting online walkthroughs and joining virtual open houses. Look at all the details and features of a home, hone in on your needs and determine if your home meets all those requirements. 

4. Get a home inspection

A home inspection is crucial if you’re purchasing a home you’ve never seen in person. An inspection will cover any current and potential issues (electrical or structural and water damage). This is especially valuable if you’re buying a second home that you’ll need to maintain and manage from afar.

5. Ask friends and family to tour

Consider asking a friend or family member in the area to tour the home in person, with you “tagging along” on the phone. They can help you experience the home, get a feel for the place and help you get answers to questions in real time. 

6. Make a sight unseen offer

A sight-unseen offer isn’t very different from a traditional home offer. Once you have a pre-approval letter, you will need to decide how much to offer and how much money you want to put down. Your agent will help work through contingencies and negotiations to keep your offer competitive.

7. Secure financing

If you’re looking to finance a portion of your purchase, you’ll want to work with banking partners and lenders. 

8. Close on your new home

To close on your new home, you will virtually sign purchase agreements and any  documents including the inspection report, seller disclosures and any other documents relevant to your purchase. Then, you or your lending institution will wire your funds and complete the home purchase. 

New opportunities for buying homes online

Although the virtual home-buying experience is still growing, it shares many similarities with an in-person purchase. By taking the right steps, you'll be able to remotely purchase a home or second home that meets all your expectations. With Pacaso, you can experience any of our wow-worthy luxury second homes on a tour and attend our virtual and in-person open houses.

headshot of writer Tony Huynh

Tony Huynh

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