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7 Key Considerations for Buying A House Sight Unseen

We live in an era where so many facets of life are done virtually. Especially with COVID-19 slowing down efforts to get out and enjoy everyday life. Despite the Coronavirus outbreak, home sales and home prices are up. Click the link at the bottom of this article to see why buyer demand is higher.

Due to public health concerns, using virtual tours is becoming the norm for viewing homes for sale before taking an in-person tour or buying it outright. Buying a home is a major life decision, and buying one in a completely remote way adds a layer of uncertainty. If you are itching to buy a house and want to do so without setting foot inside, keep these 7 things in the front of your mind.

Choose the right real estate agent

Even if you are in a time crunch or want to make competitive offer quickly, make sure the agent you pick has the ability to serve all of your needs virtually. Asking these questions to yourself and your prospective realtor will help you build trust and gain insight.

  • Check reviews about the agent and the company they work with.
  • Where they live in the area to learn their personal experiences.
  • How long they have lived in the area?
  • How many sales have they done in the areas you are looking?
  • How long have they been a realtor/with their company?

Take a guided tour (virtually)

Thanks to video chats like Zoom, Facetime, Facebook Live, and even YouTube Live, you can take a guided tour of a home with your realtor, in real time, without leaving your home. Your real estate agent can send you listing packets, MLS data, and other necessary information about the home for you to print out and look at during the tour. Be sure to write down any questions you may have (more on that in the next section). When you and your agent connect, they will start outside the home, show you the street and front yard, and proceed inside like a normal tour. Thankfully, smartphones have HD cameras to fully capture the interior of the home.

Ask sensory questions

Normally, as you walk through the house and in the neighborhood, you can smell the smells, hear the sounds, and see the sights. With a virtual tour, these sensory inputs are lost. Be sure to ask about the sights, sounds, and smells around the property. A trustworthy agent will be honest in their answers. Here are some questions to consider:

  • Smells inside the house (mold, pet, smoke).
  • Smells outside the house (nearby farms, factories).
  • Sounds outside the house (road noise, trains, neighbor activity).
  • Are the appliances, carpets, or fixtures dated?
  • Ask about the cell service inside and outside the house. If your signal connection falters, this is also a sign of a weak connection.
  • Shade vs sun on the property and in the house.

Research the neighborhood and surrounding area

As with an in-person home search, do your due diligence research for the surrounding area to see if it is also a good fit. If you are unfamiliar with the area, this will help inform your decision. Things to try are:

  • Take a virtual tour of the neighborhood. Use Google Maps to drive down the streets. Build Idaho also offers exclusive 360 degree aerial drone footage to show off the whole neighborhood and surrounding area.
  • Look at bus routes and major roads for your commute.
  • Research the nearby schools and district/school boundaries.
  • Research HOA guidelines and CC&Rs.

Home inspections

Another part of due diligence is the home inspection. It is always beneficial to have an extra set of eyes inspect the property before you make your decision. Make sure to research potential local inspectors using realtor recommendations, online reviews, and certifications. Depending on the age of the home, it may need to be inspected for asbestos, foundation integrity, plumbing, and electrical systems.

Don’t immediately waive contingencies

Waiving contingencies on your offer is an enticing way to try to beat the competition and win the home in a seller’s market such as Boise and the surrounding area. Be aware that without a home inspection contingency or a financing contingency, you may be out of luck if something goes wrong. It’s better to be safe than sorry. If you are fortunate enough to be buying in cash, waiving a financing contingency is a no-brainer. However, this is not an option to most home buyers.

Expect some bumps in the road

No home buying process has ever gone exactly as planned. Buying a home sight unseen has its own share of obstacles to overcome (as outlined above) in addition to the “normal” hiccups. Financing approval could take conger thanks to COVID-19 (for either/both the buyer and seller), repairs could take longer, and there may be scheduling conflicts. When it comes to real estate, a certain measure of patience and flexibility is needed. Have no fear, you will find your perfect home and you will be able to buy a home virtually.

Give our team of local experts a call today at 208.724.9636 to start your home buying journey.

Here is why buyer demand has increased during COVID-19.

Take a virtual tour of new subdivisions.

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