Buying a home “Sight Unseen” during this COVID-19 Pandemic

Really ON EDGE? Lender is in place, movers are ready, your closing on your home far away and need to move NOW! Virtual viewing is becoming increasingly common!

  • When we had a sense of urgency back in 2004 thru 2008, buyers from across the pond would call me, ask me to view the home and send photos of what I found as RED FLAGS! These buyers had full confidence in my professional observations and comments. We secured a Purchase Agreement and my buyers would fly across the pond for the inspection and sometimes fly back the same day. Happy buyers.  

iBuyers are becoming increasingly more common, however sellers may end up with a low-ball offer, high transaction fees, “HIDDEN FEES” Using a IBuyer could cost you! You want to sell quickly? A realtor can sell a property under market value in a fairly short period of time – and we don’t bill you for repairs, charge outrageous closing fees, or there to hold your hand until you home closes.

  • Here are 10 ways to help you as a buyer, or as a seller understanding the buyers challenges.

You’re a BUYER and should be specific, realistic and do not set your expectations too high!

A real estate agent really tries to establish upfront what buyers want and need from their next property before they begin their home search. This is even more crucial if they are only seeing properties online. As your Realtor I rely try to relay all visual cues when viewing properties with our becoming extremely aware of your understanding of what our buyers hope to find and provide a visual so your on the same page moving forward.

Without my buyers beside me, discovering that information is going to take in-depth conversation, and a lot of it. Even then, we can only see the things that jump out at us. Smelling the scents and why, listing to the sounds that annoy me and may annoy my buyers.  We have no guarantee our buyers will mirror our thoughts and our reactions!

2. Measure furniture before it is packed

Instead of buying furniture to fit your new home, and my experience tells me my clients try to buy homes that fit their furniture. So, as a buyer, you need to provide measurements for pieces that you cannot leave behind. We must understand if it fits, will it fit through the doors! Most often I can tell whether my buyers’ items will fit through the door and into their prospective new home.

Please keep those measurements handy, packing them away is always a disappointment when upon arrival you cannot find them.

Many buyers purchasing for an investment or their new home, may be purchasing a furnished home, an easier transaction, however “WHAT’S THE CONDITION” of the furnishings. Be extremely cautious that’s what I’m here for!

3. As a buyer need to master online search tools, this can be a challenge.

Whichever listing site you may use, I encourage you to look beyond what you see and ask me questions. My staff or I can take additional photos that meet your interest, we really try to look beyond the property photos.

On realtor.com, for example, the map feature offers various views of the property along with overlays providing additional information on schools, crime rates, distance to services and so on. Google Earth enables you to view the neighborhood from varied levels. I really prefer that you explore the neighborhood on your own. I cannot by law disclose features in the area that may or may not suit your interest.

4. Use phones tablet applications for interactive visual tours

We are all getting a bit more accustomed to this new way of “showing” property, but it’s crucial to USE VIRTUAL TOURS, because buyers zero in on properties they are serious about.

I encourage your to take several tours before making that offer. Have a conversations is by far more productive and will give insight to the way the homes rooms conform and flow to each other.

We are ready to begin focusing on details, where lighting may or may not be available. It is important as a buyer to try to sketch out a rough floor plan, in many Counties in Northeast Florida you can find the floor plans. This can be extremely helpful. It is important for me as a buyer’s agent to point out cracks in the ceilings, walls, outside and inside. Much of this may not show in the photographs. As a seller, you need to know, understand, be aware that inspections may disclose what maybe irrelevant to you is necessary to a buyer, and in most cases, wanting to sell quickly, it maybe wise to hire a home inspector and any red flags, resolve asap!

5. Get a family member or friends — with tape measures

Ideally, having friends or family members view the properties on your behalf and take the measurements you will need most. I can bend over backwards however my experience may hinder your views. A single door or window measurement maybe extremely important and not so much to me. I am an OCD individual and I demand the most honest and forthcoming elements for both my buyers and my sellers.

6. Caution…writing a contingent is rarely considered by sellers.

Sellers are naturally wary of accepting offers from people who have never seen their home. So, you may not want to make an offer contingent upon a buyer viewing the home. But the standard inspection contingency (and loan approval) periods provide opportunity for an on-site visit by the you as a buyer or surrogate.

Even buyers who have toured properties in person need to revisit them during the inspection period. I urge you to visit if anyway possible, personally or through surrogate to be there during the inspection!

7. Talk to the inspectors

Home pest, and other inspectors make great surrogates. You may not be prone to using them that way way, despite this every inspector welcomes questions. It’s the utmost importance to discuss the report you paid for and ask questions even if they may seem irrelevant. You need to read and understand thoroughly. As I have said from the beginning, weather your halfway across the world, or across the country. PLEASE attend and be witness to the inspection.

8. You are the buyer prepare to walk into a smaller, not so perfect reality!

Not seeing a property firsthand before closing just about guarantees reality will not compare with the mental image you have created and have a mindset for. The property may look smaller and emptier. It may look like nothing you pictured. As virtually well presented the per-owned home presents itself, it will always depict the previous owners home.

The neighbor’s home maybe disturbing, in color, condition, most likely will not be what you see on Google Maps.  You may feel like you paid too much. As a buyer you may have disturbing feelings, however in most of these transactions you are perfectly normal. As your representative, I can do everything to prepare you however an “ON SIGHT ATTENDANCE in the inspection process is worth an overnight airplane flight, its not too expensive, and well worth the investment.

9. I attended a webinar recently and grid paper rules! Do this!

As a buyer you may still feel let down when the final walk through is completed in an empty property. Please be prepared, perhaps bringing a tape measure, and paper, maybe even a pad of grid paper you used during the process. It’s extremely important to double check by measuring the rooms and create a drawing that shows where your furniture is placed and begin arranging furniture on paper before you have a moving truck pull up.

I have a great deal of resources that I will share with you. I will do my best to provide you with all the resources, and the means for you to be prepared, and love the home you just purchased.   

10. A great agent is the key to a pleasant & successful experience.

I have found representing buyers can be the most difficult challenge and at other times the most rewarding. So many factors can challenge the purchase and sale of any property.  

Please understand it’s critical that you know what you’re looking for. Let us check all the boxes, and without doubt I will communicate with the utmost understanding. I want you pleasantly satisfied. I’m not going to spend 5 days and view 20 plus homes to help satisfy your means.

When representing you as a buyer, by law I maybe restricted with what I can provide in services and what I am able to share. However I will provide you resources that will assist you with delicate questions I’m unable to disclose.

At the end of the day, I assure you the effort will take will not surprise the outcome. I’ve done this so many times in the past, just not under these restrictions and conditions.