Last year, 35% of new homebuyers purchased homes sight unseen. What does that mean? Well, basically what it says: they made an offer on the home without seeing it for themselves. This is a higher number than was indicated at the beginning of the year and higher still than the number of homes purchased sight unseen the year before. It seems purchasing sight unseen is becoming more and more popular, despite the risk.
According to the surveys taken by Redfinn, much of these increased numbers can be attributed to millennials moving out of their box-sized apartments and into houses. But even within that demographic, what’s the appeal of buying sight unseen and is it worth it?
More Detailed Online Listings
Many millennials are willing to buy sight unseen because they’re more comfortable trusting online listings than previous generations. And to be sure, online listings are more detailed than ever before. Now an online listing can come with a home tour, a list of features, and a description of the neighborhood. Homebuyers can also find information about the neighborhood with a quick Google search, so they don’t have to rely on the listing or visiting the neighborhood in person.
Scheduling can be tough. It’s hard to find a time that’s right for both buyer and seller to see the home. For the seller, scheduling a tour during a weekday while the kids are in school might make the most sense. However, for the buyer who doesn’t have the time to take off from their 9-5 job, evenings and weekends work best. There’s also a tendency among millennials to work two jobs, which can make scheduling even more of a challenge. If the thought of finding a convenient time to see the house in person brings on a stress migraine, it might just be easier to look at the online listing.
Let’s say your dream home is on Amelia Island, Florida. The problem is you currently live in Seattle. If that’s the case, taking a plane to visit a home on which you might not even make an offer can be costly and taxing, especially when you’re already saving to purchase the home in the first place. You may be able to hire someone to visit the house for you, or schedule a home inspection to make sure everything’s okay, but otherwise it might just be easier to make an offer from where you are and see the house when you move.
Risks of Buying Sight Unseen
Of course, there’s always a risk with buying sight unseen. Many homebuyers who choose to buy sight unseen will argue that they’re not a professional inspector, so there’s likely nothing they’ll notice in the home that they didn’t notice online. But even beyond potential problem areas of the home, a home that looked appealing online might not have the same feeling in person. Pictures on the listing are also intended to paint the home in the best light and may not be thorough. If you can’t visit the house in person before purchase, it may be advisable to take a video tour or have someone else view it for you.
Have any questions about whether or not you should buy sight unseen? Contact the Barclay Team. We’ll be happy to advise you to make the most informed decision in finding your dream home.