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We live in an age where videos and images can make us feel like we’re half way across the world, so do we really need to see a place in real life to get an idea of what it’s like to live there and to possible buy the property sight unseen?
The answer might depend on the individual, but even so, it seems to be becoming increasingly common for buyers to snap up a property sight unseen, particularly investors who don’t have the time to visit properties they want to buy interstate or overseas.
The reason that many buyers feel comfortable buying property sight unseen is because of the wide array of information they can gather without having to be on the ground.
People can view property profiles online and read online forums to find out what people think about an area, they can also look at the property’s physical location on Google street view.
Property listings also offer a lot of useful information for buyers, with floor plans, professional images and videos now being commonplace.
Some agents may even provide live broadcasts of open homes to help buyers who aren’t able to attend get a feel for particular properties and see the amount of people that walk through the door.
The importance of research when buying property sight unseen
Of course, if you are buying property sight unseen it’s important to carry out due diligence and thoroughly research the property and the area you’re interested in buying in.
Find out things like vacancy rates, local employment data, population growth and zoning rules so you can make an informed decision about the property. The more you know about the area, the better decisions you’ll make.
There always a chance when buying property sight unseen that you will be disappointed when you see it in real life, but if the numbers add up and you’re confident that the property is the right decision for you with all factors considered, seeing it in person probably might not change your mind too much. After all, sometimes the best investments are those that don’t look too great in person, but can benefit from value adding later on.
In fact, some investors prefer not seeing a property because it helps them remove any bias they might have about an area and see the decision as more of a business decision based purely on the facts about the property, as opposed to being pulled in by aesthetic appeal that may not have an effect on investment outcomes.
If you want to live in the property though, buying a property without viewing it first isn’t a great idea. It’s best to visit a property and get to know the nuances of the property so you know if you’ll feel comfortable living in it. There are some things that you can only know when seeing a property in real life that are important as an owner occupier and that you don’t want to find out after you’ve already made a purchase.
For a lot of buyers, nothing beats seeing properties on the ground, but there will always be others happy to make a purchase without setting foot on the property or maybe not even ever visiting the suburb or state.
It really comes down to preference and what you’re comfortable doing.
Tips for buying property sight unseen:
• Make sure you know the local market well.
• Research the reasons for varying values between different pockets, i.e. does one part of suburb cost less because it’s closer to main roads or there is flooding?
• Don’t rely on property listing photos alone to guide your decision.
• Always find someone who can view the property for you, whether it’s a buyers agent or at the very least a trusted friend or family member. Their insights can be valuable.
• Ask the selling agent for extra advice or information about the property to help you make your decision.
• Ensure you get a building and pest inspection.
• Evaluate the risks of buying sight unseen and whether you’re comfortable with not having viewed your investment.