I live out of state and am moving to the area in a few months. Stupid or smart to buy without physically seeing the home?

Asked by Janelle Martinelli, Wahiawa, HI Thu Apr 14, 2011

Husband is in the military and we are looking to buy our first home. I have been looking on here and drooling for a while and want to make sure I do it right but do not want to loose out on a great home or be stuck without somewhere to live for months while we wait for the buying process.

Help the community by answering this question:

+ web reference
Web reference:

Answers

16
Spirit Messi…, Agent, Tucson, AZ
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Opinions vary. I understand it is a pain to move but highly recommend to anyone moving out of state to consider renting in your new city for at least couple of months. You may have to move more than once or consider putting some stuff in storage unit & rent studio apt for cheap.

This will allow you to explore first hand different areas of town, subdivisions, amenities, the commute to work and etc. I always recommend viewing property, any property first hand in person before making an offer.

Opinions vary, but that is mine. Best of luck.
Spirit
1 vote
Jacqueline W…, Agent, Irvine, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Hi Janelle...the answer to your question really depends on you and your personality. I have helped several relocating buyers buy homes, physical sight unseen. We used photos & video to select the home and a good home inspector once we were in escrow. It works well for some and not so well for others. You will also find that many agents will not work with someone who is not willing to see the home before opening escrow. I suggest you contact an agent who works with relocation buyers in the area you will be living & who has experience working with buyers on this kind of home purchase to start the process & see if it's something you feel comfortable doing. Hope that helps:-)
1 vote
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Fri Apr 15, 2011
Janelle, I to have purchased some properties sight unseen, however, they were fix and flip investment properties. Not a home I was planning on living in for an extended period. Unless you are purchasing the home far under market value and feel you could turn and burn real quick I stand by my previous comment. Have you ever bought a pair of shoes before trying them on?
0 votes
Phil Leng, , Kirkland, WA
Fri Apr 15, 2011
Hi Janelle,
You are smart. Your question is smart.
Of course you would always like to see a home first.
However, lots and lots of people (including me) have bought properties without seeing them first.
Get a realtor for the area you are searching in. Have them take a full video for you and upload it to YouTube. That will help give you confidence in the neighborhood, the back yard, the power lines that you can't see in the MLS pictures, the derelict house across the street, etc. etc. Then make your offer with confidence!
Phil
0 votes
Beth A.Mitro, Agent, Henderson, NV
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Aloha,
If you really do your homework and use google earth and map so you can see if it backs up to powerlines/ street ect, it might be ok. I personally wouldn't buy sight unseen, unless you have been to the area & house hunting with your agent previously and your agent knows what you like/don't like.
Fly out here, i'll take you house hunting and we will go from there.
Beth Mitro
mitroteam@cox.net
Web Reference:  http://www.agentmitro.com
0 votes
Doris Turner, Agent, Bisbee, AZ
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Hi Janelle, I would suggest you rent for at least six month before you buy. A house is a big investment. Renting is practically 'money down the drain'. However, when you are on site you are able to spend some time in the different areas of the town you have moved to. You may think that you are losing out on a good deal, but if you have made a committment to buy and don't like where you are living, the investment is a bad one. I take it that you are not able to move into quarters on post. How sure are your and your spouse that he will not be transferred in two or three years? Just give it some thought. Doris Turner, OK Realty, Inc. Bisbee AZ
0 votes
Denise A. Sz…, , San Jose, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Hello Janelle~

I agree with most of the answers, although renting is tough all around in certain areas of the bay area. I would suggest as some of the agents, find an agent in the area you prefer. Most agents as myself are familiar with all surrounding areas of their offices. As I am a bay area agent, with knowledge of all cities from Silicon Valley out to Sacramento. Interview a few agents, let them know what you prefer, price range square footage (living and lot). Hopefully you have contacted a major bank to find out what you are qualified for, if not you should. A good agent will be able to tell you if these areas are affordable in your criteria. If there are photos, virtual tours an agent will be able to forward them. If the property looks like something you might be interested in your agent can do a pre-view. Take more pictures or video, provide you feedback of the neighborhood and physical condition of the property. Once you submit an offer and your offer is accepted, you will have normally a 10 day contingency period to do your inspections, appraisal, and loan release. It is not a contingency just to back out if you do not like the home, but the reasons I have listed you would be able to back out of the offer if your loan does not workout, if the seller is not willing to perhaps work out some fixes with the home, if the property does not appraise although your agent should do a CMA to substantiate your offer price, etc. I would not suggest purchasing a home without doing at least one view of the home. You would need to fly down to do the first walk through and I would suggest inspections and appraisal. You can schedule these all the same day and time of each other. I would start a search with an agent also have that agent forward some rental options for you just in case. You should be comfortable with what you decide in the best interest for you and your family. So just start. Happy Home Hunting, if you need to talk please feel free to send an email.

Denise Szyszlo
Email: denise.szyszlo@century21.com
Website: http://www.DazzleHomes.com
0 votes
Mack McCoy, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Janelle, it's not stupid, but it is certainly not smart, either.

You probably will lose out on a great home, but it will because you bought a house sight unseen and ignored much better houses because they didn't photograph well or didn't look good on the website or on Google Earth or whatever.

Owning a home is a commitment, and so is a thirty-year mortgage. A month or two at an Extended Stay America beats ten years in a home you own, hate, and can't sell!

All the best,
0 votes
Terry Tam, Agent, Danville, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Agree that between virtual tours, google maps, crime stats and other demographics available online, you should be able to IDENTIFY potential homes, but until you actually see them in person, it is not only not advisable, some agents may not even accept an offer. Your time and effort would be better spent, moving your belongings to a POD and renting for 1 month or less just to see the various neighborhoods (and sub neighborhoods). All of the above tools are great for filtering, but nothing replaces touching and feeling! Best of Luck!
0 votes
John Arendsen, Agent, Leucadia, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Do a virtual tour at the very least or your life could become a virtual reality. Have you ever purchased a pair of shoes that you haven't first tried on?
0 votes
Janelle Mart…, , Wahiawa, HI
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Really looking into the Visalia area. I of course would want an inspection done prior. I did know that lol. I guess I really wondered how common it would be to have an agent by my eyes and ears? My husband is from CA so I know all about it. We actually lived in Merced for awhile before moving to Fremont.
0 votes
Fred Durgin, , Visalia, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
I agree with the other realtors. I would never recommend a property purchase sight unseen.

Sincerely,

Fred Durgin
SFR
Keller Williams Realty Tulare County CA
0 votes
Eric J Soder…, , Pleasanton, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Hi Janelle,

Well it is not ideal, that’s for sure. More importantly, how well do you know the area and more specific, the neighborhood? This is a big decision. It may be worth the time and expense to stay in the area for a bit even if it’s just in a hotel. Either way, contact a realtor from the area you are interested in. Call several and see what type of initial service they provide. If they don't return your call within 24hrs, toss them aside. You want a professional that knows how to serve your needs. Have that realtor begin sending you listings so you really understand the market. Moving to the San Francisco area by chance?

Best Regards,

Eric Soderlund
Realtor, GRI, SRES, SFR
Steven Anthony Realty
0 votes
Laura Feghali, Agent, Stamford, CT
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Hello Janelle,
I'm in agreement with Steve that you should not purchase a home without seeing it first. You have no idea about any structural issues or problems with the property. An inspection is always recommended.
Virtual tours help in determining the layout but photos could be distorted so that room sizes actually are smaller than what is pictured or the layout could be different than what the home appears to show. And...what about the neighborhood? You need to see it in order to determine if it is an area that you will feel comfortable in and offers the amenities that are important to you. A home could have issues with wetlands or other undesirable physical features. The neighbor next door may not take care of his property and look unkempt in comparison.
I suggest that you take a trip to see the area and make an appointment with a local experienced agent to show you around to assist you in finding the right home for you.
Good luck!

Laura Feghali
Prudential Connecticut Realty
0 votes
Steven Ornel…, Agent, Fremont, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Janelle:

DO NOT BUY A HOME WITHOUT SEEING IT AND HAVING IT INSPECTED -- PERIOD!

Find a rental, or at least stay with friends, so you can acclimate yourself to the area you are interested in.

Don't worry, housing supply is not currently an issue.

Best, Steve
0 votes
Lance King, Agent, San Francisco, CA
Thu Apr 14, 2011
Janelle,

Very bad idea. We routinely work with out of area/international clients. When they hone in on a property we'll take HD video and privately youtube it for them to preview in real time. This allows the clients to get a real sense of the property, how much work it does/doesn't need, etc...

Find an agent/broker in the area you want to buy who routinely works with out of area clients and you should be fine, but come look at the property before buying it.

Best Regards,

Lance King/Owner-Managing Broker
lance@fixedrateproperties.com
415.722.5549
DRE# 01384425
0 votes
Search Advice
Search
Ask our community a question

Email me when…

Learn more