Can you purchase a house without viewing it?

Buying a property is a significant milestone and the process usually involves a great deal of planning and research.

However, in some cases, you may find yourself considering purchasing a house without viewing it first. While this may seem daunting, it is becoming increasingly common, especially in today’s digital age.

This guide looks at how to navigate the process and mitigate any potential risks.

What are sight unseen purchases?

When we refer to buying a house ‘sight unseen’ we mean purchasing a property without physically visiting it first. Instead, you rely on photographs, video clips, virtual tours, and research into the property and its surroundings.

When to consider buying a house without viewing

There are several situations, such as if you are relocating to a different city or even internationally and it might be challenging or impractical to visit properties in person. You may also consider this option if you’re dealing with a highly competitive housing market and need to act quickly to secure a property. Another case could be if you’re a confident property investor looking to outbid competitors.

When to exercise caution

if you’re a first-time buyer or unfamiliar with the local housing market, it could be riskier to make a sight unseen purchase. Visiting a property in person can provide valuable insights into the location, the condition of the property, and other factors that may not be apparent through virtual viewing.

Risks involved

The primary concern is the unknown property condition. Misrepresentation in online photos and descriptions can also be problematic, potentially leading to unexpected issues post-purchase. Unfamiliarity with local housing market dynamics can also result in overpayment or missed opportunities.

To navigate these risks, it’s crucial to adopt strategic approaches. Thorough research, utilising technology effectively, enlisting the help of local contacts, and commissioning a comprehensive property survey are just a few ways to safeguard your investment.

Appoint a skilled estate agent

One of the most critical steps is choosing a reliable and experienced estate agent. They will be your boots on the ground, providing you with detailed local information, conducting video tours, and helping calculate the risks associated with the property. It’s essential to find an agent who is tech-savvy, knowledgeable about the local market and comfortable with negotiation.

Mortgage Pre-approval: an essential step

Preapproval can help you shop for homes within your price range and show sellers that you’re a serious buyer. It’s particularly advantageous in a competitive market.

Virtual property tours: a game changer

Thanks to advancements in technology, virtual property tours have become a game-changer in the housing market. They allow you to have an interactive experience while touring the property from the comfort of your own home. However, it’s crucial to remember that no matter how high-quality the virtual tour is, it can’t fully replicate the experience of physically being in the property.

Thorough home inspections

Whether you’re buying sight unseen or not, it’s always advisable to get a thorough home inspection. This can help uncover potential issues with the property that might not be visible in photos or during a virtual tour. If you can’t attend the inspection in person, consider setting up a video call with the inspector during the examination.

Making an offer

Once you’re satisfied with the property’s condition, you can proceed to make an offer. This process is similar to a traditional property purchase, but it’s crucial to rely on contingencies that require specific criteria to be met before finalising the deal.

Exchanging contracts

Once all inspections, searches and enquiries have been completed and the contract has been agreed, you’re ready to exchange contracts. This can be done virtually, with the necessary documents being signed and exchanged electronically.