Why primary home buyers are increasingly willing to make offers site unseen

A new survey found that 20 percent of buyers were prepared to make an offer without visiting a home

New York Weekend Edition /
Jul.July 15, 2018 01:08 PM

(Credit: Danijel Šivinjski)

Apparently more and more people are deciding to buy homes based on some photos and maybe a FaceTime tour.

A new survey by Redfin found that 20 percent of primary home buyers are willing to put an offer on a house they’ve never visited, according to the New York Times. Another survey by Realtor.com in New York City found that about half of the 45 agents contacted worked with a buyer who was signing along the dotted line for a home they’d never set foot in.

Why are an increasing number of buyers willing to take such a profound leap of faith? For some, they feel technology is a good surrogate for a visit if they’re not able to travel for whatever reason. Others attribute the trend to housing markets like New York where properties go fast, so you need to move quickly to snag a place.

The process is also stressful on agents representing their clients from a distance: Joe Muller of Julia B. Fee Sotheby’s International Realty recalled a tour with a client who’d submitted a $142,000 bid for a White Plains apartment he’d only seen via FaceTime.

“I think I was sweating because I was like, ‘Oh, my god, what if he doesn’t like it?’ He’d have lost his deposit,” Muller told the Times. It worked out.

There are cases that don’t end as picture-perfectly, however. Graham Candish put a $1.25 million offer on a house in New York while still living in Geneva. He didn’t visit his property until halfway through closing and it was only then he realized the true state of his new basement.

“They massively overexpose the photographs and turn on all the lights. You get there in person, and it’s not as bright as you’d imagine,” he told the Times. His damp and dark basement aside, Candish claims he doesn’t regret the deal, though he may not be as trusting of photos next time. [NYT]Erin Hudson


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