Buying a property sight unseen is generally considered to be risky, especially if you’re buying a home for the first time. But some argue that this is the best way to get an investment property because emotions will not play into the equation.
Google Street View, real estate agency photos, photos from property managers and online plans are just some of the virtual ways you can see a property.
If you’re planning on buying your own home, it’s important that you see the property physically because you’re going to live in it. You don’t want to live in a house that falls short of the expectations you had after looking at photos online.
There are many pitfalls from buying a property online. These include rooms being much smaller in reality than they looked through a wide-angle lense, the home being close to an undesirable neighbourhood or facility, and a host of other problems that may not appear in the sales pictures.
When it comes to purchasing an investment property, buying sight unseen will enable you to make your decision based purely on facts and figures rather than being swayed by insignificant aesthetics such as the colour of the walls.
You can also save time and money on transportation since you’re not going to be physically visiting one property after another.
If you’re planning on buying sight unseen, here are some things you can do to minimise mistakes:
- Work with a real estate agent you trust. Your agent should be willing to virtually walk you through the property as well as the local community. They should be able to point out the flaws and guide you to the right online resources.
- Get an independent property valuation and building inspection. These will give you additional information about the property so you aren't just relying on the selling agent. It’s possible to order a valuation online from valuation companies while RP Data property reports can be obtained free from loans.com.au.
- Request more photos. Ask if the selling agent can take more photos of the house aside from the ones posted online.
- Send a friend. Ask a relative or friend if they can inspect the property for you.
- Check out the neighbourhood through Google Earth or Google Street-view. Both of these will let you see what is around the home.
If you are buying a property and especially your own home, we recommend that you inspect it in person. If you can't do this because of circumstances such as living overseas, you should have someone you trust check the property for you.