During pandemic, more are buying homes sight unseen

Posted at 11:28 AM, Nov 20, 2020

In 2020, buying or selling a home has become quite tricky. Experts in the real estate industry are seeing a new trend: purchasing homes without ever stepping foot in them.

"We've found ourselves in a really, really interesting situation right now with coronavirus. And also, dealing with a super low inventory across the country," said David Lewis, a realtor in the Atlanta area.

Lewis says for those who are relocating, COVID-19 wariness may prevent potential buyers from seeing a property in person. Plus, traveling can be difficult right now.

"A lot of times, some of them we’re videoing the home for them and some of them are just looking at the pictures and submitting blind offers and just hoping, trusting us to give them a little bit of guidance and also making sure the inspections and things are in line to offer that level of protection," said Lewis.

Experts say, when buying virtually, a good home inspection is a must.

"It should catch most everything. Now remember, a home inspection is a visual inspection. We’re not allowed to take siding off a house, we see trim damage then that's what we see. We can’t take a look between that wall," said Donny Williams, the Director of Business Development and Marketing for All Atlanta AmeriSpec.

Overall, he doesn't recommend buying a home without going inside it first, but he and many other inspectors at his company are seeing it more often now.

"I was actually surprised the number of times it actually happened. The guys could remember seven to 15 times each. Times that by 18 guys and that's a lot," said Williams.

Before the pandemic, Williams says he rarely would see people purchase homes sight unseen. But as long as contracting the coronavirus is a concern, home buying virtually could be here to stay. Just know that if you are thinking of buying a home this way, there are things a realtor won't be able to fully give their opinions on, such as the neighborhood.

"That's something that is always largely on the purchaser. There’s several laws and regulations around what a real estate professional can share and information they can give on a neighborhood. So, a lot of times that's always up to the consumer, anyways, right, to get a good feel for the neighborhood or understand the dynamics or school or surrounding area," said Lewis.

Overall, make sure before you swipe right to buy a home, meet it first, if at all possible. Having a realtor and inspector you trust is key.

Though, what they won't be able to help you with is if the house feels like your home.