Buying a Home Sight Unseen

Buying a home ‘sight unseen’ isn’t a brand-new buyer approach. If you’ve sold to families relocating from across the country, foreign buyers, or investors, you may have been involved in transactions where your client buys based on a few photos and an attractive price. 

Back before the internet or easy access to multimedia resources, those types of sales were more challenging for both you as the agent and the buyer. But in the past decade, the ‘buying blind’ trend has become increasingly common.  

Sometimes, it’s out of necessity, like a long-distance move or lack of time to dedicate to the home search. However, some buyers just appreciate the opportunity to shop from a distance and rely on the digital home shopping experience. 

As a real estate agent, there are many things you can do to make the sight unseen homebuying process go smoothly and quickly for your clients. Since those clients often won’t get a first-hand, in-person look at the homes they are considering, you’ll be their eyes and ears during the house hunt.  

The more you can do to help them, the better your chances are of getting them into the right house – and earning your commission. Here are four things you can do to help your clients buy sight unseen: 

Think like a homebuyer 

What would you want to see if you were touring a home YOU were considering buying? What details about the property are important to you?  

These are questions you should ask yourself as you’re taking photos or videos of your listings. Remember, your clients will see the home through your eyes. Think about all the highlights and details of each home you have listed, and make sure you capture them on camera one way or another – all the way down to inside the kitchen cabinets. A picture (or video) says 1,000 words. 

One of the best ways to sell a home is to help create an emotional attachment between the buyer and the home. When you’re talking about a home, speak about it in a way that allows a buyer to visualize themselves living there. Kids playing in the big backyard, hosting family get-togethers in the spacious family, etc. Clients can feel that emotional connection even if they aren’t physically standing in the home.  

Stage the house 

Especially if you are not able to show clients a home on-site, staging a house before showing it is critical. It’s the best way for your clients to see from a distance (on video or camera) how the spaces can be used and visualize their own belongings in the house.  

If you’re new to the business, “staging” means getting a house ready to show to interested buyers using furniture, area rugs, and other decor, so they see it at its absolute best. The goal is to make both the inside and outside of a home look as enticing as possible to potential buyers. You want the house to look bigger, brighter, and as current as possible. Your clients looking to buy sight unseen will appreciate being able to see how the current owner is currently using the space in each room, especially rooms with unusual dimensions.  

Staging is a good best practice for you and your sellers, too. According to the 2020 Home Staging Industry Report (IAHSP), staged houses can sell for up to 20 percent more than the nonstaged competition.  

Use your local connections 

Since your distance buyers aren’t local, they’ll lean on you for local resources and industry contacts. The more resources you can provide for them, the better the odds of scoring the sale. Plus, you’ll end up with satisfied clients who are more than willing to refer you to their friends and families. 

It’s a good idea to leverage your local connections like: 

  • Appraisers 
  • Mortgage lenders 
  • Home inspectors 
  • Construction/remodelers 
  • Roofers 
  • Moving companies 

Because your client is working through the home buying process from a distance, you might need to be the one who meets some of these professionals at the home so they can do their jobs. But that above-and-beyond service will likely be appreciated by your client.  

Use Technology 

If you’re not already using video or other digital marketing tactics, you could be missing out on sales. But it’s especially important to think about technology when it comes to helping your out-of-town buyers get a complete look at the home they are interested in and for regular client communication. 

There are plenty of resources available to you that will come in handy, including:  

  • 3D renderings 
  • Pre-recorded walkthroughs  
  • Live video tours  
  • Social media (including Facebook Live, Instagram Live) 
  • Email marketing (including video/photos) 
  • Texting and messaging 

Buying a home sight unseen doesn’t need to be difficult or time-consuming. But as an advocate for your clients, you are the key to making sure the process is streamlined. Putting these tips into action will put you in a good position to create a great home buying experience for everyone. 

*Not all borrowers will qualify. Contact us for more information on fees and terms. Not intended as legal, financial, or investment advice. Contact your financial representative for more information.

U.S. News & World Report. (n.d.). The Guide to Buying a Home Sight Unseen. U.S. News & World Report.