Everything You Need to Know Before You Decide to Buy a Home Sight Unseen
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people buying homes sight unseen has risen sharply. Part of the increase is just due to the fact that many want to stay home and avoid the risk of getting sick. Another reason is that the rise in remote work means many people are contemplating moving somewhere far away from their current job. Buying a home without visiting it first can be convenient and safe, but it can be hard to pick your dream home when you haven't actually been inside. The guide will help you navigate this new way of house hunting.
Get a Local Real Estate With Great Reviews
When shopping for homes in an area you aren't familiar with, you need someone on your side. Look at realtors in the area you are interested in, and pick a buyer's agent with great reviews. They can help you find high quality listings and give you access to pre-listed properties. Furthermore, a real estate agent will help you navigate all the paperwork. This is very important, because when buying a property remotely, you will have a lot of electronic documents to fill out and sign. A good agent will walk you through this process, so you do not forget anything important.
Check Out Online Listings Carefully
The most time consuming and important part of the whole process will be looking at listings online. You can sort to find homes that have the size, number of bedrooms, age, and location that you prefer. However, always look at online listings critically. A room with walls that look warped around the edges may be a sign the photo was manipulated to make it look larger. If colors appear overly bright or light, there might be filters hiding discolored walls or a lack of natural light. Think about whether the listing omits something like a room or a view of a certain wall, and consider whether the listing might be hiding anything important.
Explore the Neighborhood
You can't change the location of a home, so you need to spend a lot of time researching online if you are not going to visit it in person. Pull up a map to see if there are any potentially noisy sites, like schools, playgrounds, gas stations, or restaurants close by. Some sites provide information on local crime statistics and sex offender registries, so you can see if there is anything concerning nearby. Use Google Street Views or a similar website to "walk" along the streets around the neighborhood and see what it looks like. This can give you a more accurate view of the home than the highly polished listing photos. Finally, use a real estate website to see the pricing of recently sold homes in the area. This can help you avoid buying something in a neighborhood with decreasing values.
Go for a Virtual Tour
Once you decide you want to learn more about the home, it is time to go for a virtual tour. Thanks to all the great video call apps out there, you can ask a realtor to walk through the home and let you watch the video. This is a great way for you to see all the little details that did not show up in the listing photos and videos. Generally, it is best to get your agent to do the virtual showing, so you can ask them upfront questions about things like smells and sounds in the area. On your tour, be sure to ask for a closeup look at closets, yards, appliances, and anything else you are going to prioritize.
Be Cautious When Sending Money
When you've found your dream home and want to finalize the transaction, you will need to send your funds to the other party. Be very careful doing this, since there are all sorts of escrow money scams. Only wire the money to the number given to you directly by your agent or mortgage broker. Do not trust random emails or calls that claim to have changes to your wiring instructions. You cannot recover incorrectly wired funds, so double check to make sure everything is upfront.
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