Did you know that 1 of every 3 home buyers nationwide purchase their properties sight unseen?
I have to admit that this was a surprise to me. It goes without saying that these buyers are doing their research online and depending on photos and information that is readily available for anyone to see.
For those who are purchasing for investment or flippers who are ready and eager to find properties in specific neighborhoods with the cash and skills to rehab homes, this could be a great way to go.
But for people looking to buy a home to live in, it’s not a way to buy that I would recommend at all. Here’s why:
- Photos can lie
- Unfortunately sellers and their realtors are not always telling you the whole story about any given house. The truth is that neither the seller nor the Realtor may know the whole truth when the house is listed. But sellers may also deliberately try to hide flaws that they are aware of. For example, how easy is it to paint over a wall covered in mold to disguise the problem? How easy is it to disguise a wall way out of plumb with a refrigerator in that corner?
- Not all remodels are done up to the same standards. A home may photograph beautifully, but has it really been finished beautifully? Do the doors all close? Do drawers all open?
In my very humble, or not so humble opinion, there is no substitute for actually seeing a house and getting a real feel for how the house flows, and more importantly how a house feels to you. Sure a home inspection is supposed to disclose what the seller may or may not have known in terms of flaws; but remember that a home inspector is a person too and can make mistakes, or might not call out something that just might drive you crazy when you actually live in the house.
The home inspector is not there to advise you about a neighborhood or your potential new neighbors. He/she might find the foundation appears sound, which doesn’t mean that it hasn’t settled. Those walls that aren’t plumb can be a real inconvenience when you go to place furniture, or even just hang wall decor.
That being said, my best advice to almost all home buyers is if you’re not able to go see a house yourself prior to purchase, at least have someone you trust go see it for you. Please don’t base your decision on photos, videos and the description. What feels like “move in ready” to one person may not feel like move in ready to you.