Buying a House Sight Unseen? Avoid These 8 Mistakes – Redfin

April 28, 2020 January 27, 2021 by Mekaila Oaks

Updated on January 27th, 2021

From grocery shopping to home buying, it seems like almost everything can be done completely online now. The idea of buying a house without seeing it is less daunting these days with all the new technologies and ways to buy a home virtually, and it’s becoming more common. In fact, 45% of recently surveyed homebuyers said they made a bid on a home without first seeing it in person, compared to 28% in 2019.

Maybe you’re currently living in a condo in Chicago, but have to relocate to a new home in Austin, TX for work. Or, maybe your family is growing and you’re in a time-crunch to move into a bigger house with a yard. Whatever the reason may be, you’re likely going to be buying a home in the near future without seeing it first in person. And while it may seem risky, don’t worry. A completely remote homebuying process can still go just as smooth as it would in person, as long as you avoid these common mistakes made when buying a house sight unseen.

tan one story home with palm tree

tan one story home with palm tree

1. Using the first real estate agent you meet

While you might be in a time-crunch or just want to make a quick, competitive offer, you should still take the time to find the right real estate agent for you. Since you won’t be seeing the home in person, it’s important you find an agent that you trust, and knows the market and the area you’re buying in like the back of their hand. 

Start by reading online reviews of real estate agents in the city you’re looking to buy, and then interview your top picks. Ask a variety of questions to determine if they’ll be a good fit for you, such as asking how many sales they’ve handled in your target neighborhoods. 

2. Skipping out on a virtual tour

Seeing is believing, especially when it comes to buying a home. That’s why you shouldn’t make an offer on a home based on just those wonderful listing photos that initially caught your eye. Even if you love what you see, don’t make the mistake of not taking a virtual tour of the listing — photos can only show you so much. 

If the listing has a 3D virtual walkthrough tour, you can easily see every nook and cranny of the home as if you were touring it in person. This is a great tool to use as you’re house hunting to help narrow down your top choices. However, to make sure you’re not submitting an offer unaware of the creaky floors or the lingering pet odor, it’s important to schedule a live video-chat tour with your agent. Even though you can’t be there in person, they can. And they’ll be able to answer those questions that listing photos alone cannot. 

Condo patio with red chairs with a city view

Condo patio with red chairs with a city view

3. Forgetting to ask things that you’d normally see for yourself

When you’re house hunting in person, you’re able to use all of your senses. You can see the wonderful natural light coming into the living room, you can hear the noisy garage door, and you can smell the pet odors that are still lingering throughout the home. But when you’re buying a house without seeing it, you’re limited to only what is shown digitally. 

Before you virtually tour the home with your agent, write out a list of as many questions or concerns you’d normally be able to see or check out for yourself. Be sure to include some of these questions during the video tour

  • What can you smell in and outside the house? Maybe there’s a paper mill nearby. 
  • What can you hear from the house? There could be a hospital close by or train tracks behind the home.
  • Do any appliances or features look outdated? The cabinets might’ve looked brand new because of a fresh coat of paint, but need to be replaced in the near future.
  • What is the internet and cell-phone service like? There could be a few carriers that don’t offer good coverage in that neighborhood. 
  • Is there anything that stands out to you as a concern that wasn’t shown in the listing photos or 3D walkthrough?

If you’re moving to a home further out from the city and suburbs, consider asking what the wildlife situation is like or if the nearby river has ever caused flooding. Or, if you’re moving into a bustling downtown area, ask how the traffic is or what the public transportation options are like.

Aerial view of a home palm trees

Aerial view of a home palm trees

4. Not researching the neighborhood and surrounding area

Whether it’s because they’re excited for the house they’ve found, or they need to relocate as soon as possible, people often forget to look into the neighborhood and its surroundings. For example, the last thing you want is to move your family across Dallas for a great school, and then discover later on that your new house isn’t actually in the school district’s boundaries; or move into a new-construction home without realizing it’s far away from your must-have community amenities. If you’re moving to a neighborhood you’re already familiar with then this isn’t a big concern. However, for most people buying a house sight unseen, it’s likely that you’re not as familiar with the area.

Do your due diligence and use Google Maps to virtually walk through the neighborhood to see what the surrounding homes look like and what’s nearby. If your agent is up for it, see if they can take you on a video tour around the block. There could be new construction underway or other potential concerns that you aren’t able to see for yourself on Google Maps. Also consider joining online community groups, such as those on Facebook or Nextdoor, to gain local insights into the specific neighborhoods and communities from those actually living there.

5. Not vetting a high-quality home inspector

Whether you’re buying a house sight unseen or not, a home inspection is a crucial step in the homebuying process. It’s even more important to have this extra set of eyes from a professional when you aren’t able to see the home in person. Just as it was important to vet out your real estate agent, the same goes for choosing a home inspector. Don’t make the mistake of just hiring the first one you stumble across online. Be sure you do your research to find a reputable, qualified home inspector in the area of your new home.

6. Forgoing additional inspections

You’ll want to have a general home inspection to cover your grounds and make sure you’re aware of any problems with the home. For most, a general inspection is sufficient. However, depending on the age of the home or if there are outside structures and features, like a pool, there are some additional inspections you shouldn’t forgo. For example, if the home was built before 1980 (and in some cases, after that) you should consider having it checked for asbestos. Rather than showing up to your new home with unexpected surprises and issues, take the time to have it thoroughly inspected.

7. Waiving contingencies 

If you’re thinking of waiving contingencies in hopes to beat out other buyers and score the home, you should think twice about that decision. If it’s a seller’s market and you want the offer to be competitive and enticing, maybe you can get by with waiving some less risky contingencies like an early move-in. However, it can be a huge gamble and mistake to waive higher-risk contingencies, like a home inspection contingency or financing contingency. To protect yourself in an already tricky situation, be wary of waiving certain contingencies. 

8. Expecting the process to go according to plan

A common mistake in any homebuying process is expecting it to go exactly as planned. Add in buying a house sight unseen and you’ll likely find yourself navigating the process differently. It’s important to set a realistic timeline with a buffer in case there are any hiccups along the way. For example, there’s a chance that the loan-approval process could take longer than expected or that the needed repairs to the home you made an offer on are going to take a few weeks longer. 

Having a realistic expectation and planning for a few bumps along the way will help you feel at ease in case anything does stray away from the plan. Prepare all of your documents well in advance so you have all the needed information for the loan approval process. Confirm if you’re able to have a fully digital closing rather than needing to be there in person, and periodically check in with your agent to see if there’s anything needed on your end to keep the process going smoothly.

Source: redfin.com

5 House Features Oregon Homebuyers Want Most

Homebuyers often find themselves on the hunt for certain trends in their future dream home even before touring a house. Whether that’s a covered deck in Dallas, Texas or french doors in Los Angeles, California, you may be wondering what the most popular home features are in your state.

For current and future home sellers in Oregon, popular house features are likely to draw in more potential buyers and increase resale value. So, if home improvement is on your list this year, check out 5 of the most popular home trends in Oregon you should consider adding to your list. 

house-features-oregon

house-features-oregon

1) Walk-in closet

With lots of spacious room to hang and store your clothes, it’s no wonder Oregon’s most popular home trend is a walk-in closet. Homes with walk-in closets have an average list price of $519,000. Maybe you’ve always dreamt of turning one of your spare rooms into a walk-in closet or converting part of your main bedroom into a space to store your belongings. Call your local remodeling company to see about upgrading one of your spaces to stand out with potential homebuyers. 

windows-house-features

windows-house-features

2) Double pane windows

With a varied climate, it’s only fitting that double pane windows are popular with Oregon homebuyers. Compared to their single pane counterparts, double pane windows will keep you and your home more insulated from the weather outside. These windows provide insulation, while also making your home more energy efficient. Only 14.8% of current homes for sale have this feature, so your home will definitely stand out from the competition with double pane windows.

open-space-home

open-space-home

3) Central air conditioning or air conditioning unit

Unless you’re living in a region of Oregon that’s cold year-round, chances are you’ve wished for air conditioning during the summers, especially if your home doesn’t have an AC unit. Having central air conditioning in your Oregon home yields an average list price of $510,000, making it one of the most popular house features that appeal to buyers. So consider making this summer the year you call your local HVAC team to decide on the right AC unit for your home.

hardwood-home-trends

hardwood-home-trends

4) Hardwood, ceramic, or laminate floors

With all the types of flooring out there it may seem as though the options are endless. Whether you’re selling a house in Bend or Portland, OR, hardwood, ceramic, and laminate floors are some of the most popular house features. Not only will these flooring types bring style to your home, they’ll also appeal to future buyers, as only 13.3% of homes currently for sale have these features. So, if you’re thinking about upgrading your floors, now might be the time to check out your local flooring companies.

high-ceilings-feature

high-ceilings-feature

5) Two stories and high ceilings

Whether that’s having a 2-story home or high ceilings to make any room feel expansive, Oregonians are all about space. Only roughly 11% of homes currently for sale have these house features, so this may be the right home improvement project to add to your list this year. If you’re thinking about adding more space to your home, contact your local remodeling company or a general contractor. They’ll know if creating high ceilings or an addition to your home is possible. 

*Per home listing data on Redfin.com, as of January 2021. 

Individual results may vary. This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed real estate agent, or licensed and bonded home services professional or appraiser.

Source: redfin.com

Most Popular Home Trends in Texas That Are Worth the Money

In today’s booming housing market, it’s crucial to stand out from the competition and appeal to as many homebuyers as possible. You want your home to sell quickly and for top dollar, right? To help incite multiple offers, and possibly start a bidding war, you may need to do some home upgrades to make your home more desirable than the home listed for sale down the street. But, what sort of home trends and features are most popular in your market with today’s buyers? 

From indoor fireplaces to recessed lighting, consumer taste often varies state-by-state, or even by city. Someone living in Seattle won’t desire a backyard pool as much as someone living in Phoenix, after all. So, if you want to get the most bang for your buck, check out these five home remodeling trends that are currently the most popular with homebuyers in Texas.*

1) Walk-In Closet

Large walk-in closet

Large walk-in closet

Once considered a feature only found in luxury homes, walk-in closets have become increasingly popular over the years and have now become one of the more important rooms in any home. In fact, homes in Texas with this feature sell for 99% of asking price. These large closets typically have space for hanging your clothes and shelves for clothes, shoes, and jewelry. 

Depending on the size of the closet, they’ll sometimes even have a lounging area. It’s common to see homeowners convert a spare room into a large walk-in closet that is highly functional, practical, and spacious. But, even with the rise in popularity, only about 20% of homes for sale have a walk-in closet. Consider adding a walk-in closet or converting an existing room into a large closet to stand out from other listings.

2) Ceiling Fan

Bedroom with ceiling fan

Bedroom with ceiling fan

With the Texas climate, it’s no surprise that ceiling fans are ranked as the second most popular home feature with today’s buyers. Still only about 14 percent of homes for sale in Texas have this feature. If you’re looking to attract more potential homebuyers, it might be time to install ceiling fans. They’re useful in keeping homeowners cool in warmer climates, but they also have many other advantages such as energy conservation, versatility, illumination, and year-round value. With ceiling fans, you can also enhance your home’s decor at an affordable price while keeping everyone cool and comfortable.

3) Covered Deck

Covered deck

Covered deck

If your outdoor space doesn’t have a cover, it may be time for an upgrade. Many homeowners in Texas prefer a covered deck or patio so they’re able to enjoy the outdoors all year round, but only about 15% of current homes for sale have one. A covered deck will offer shade so you can relax without being directly exposed to the sun’s rays, rain, or any other outdoor elements. It’s no wonder that outdoor living spaces are all the rage.

4) Security Cameras

Home security camera

Home security camera

Homebuyers nowadays are always looking for a way to boost home security and provide a peace of mind. In fact, listings with security cameras sell for almost 99 percent of list price on Redfin.com. Security cameras can be found all around neighborhoods as the demand for high-tech home security increases. These systems are now more powerful and affordable than ever before. Security cameras can deter crime, lower homeowners insurance, notify of gas or fire problems, offer remote access to your home, and more.

5) Breakfast Bar

Modern kitchen with breakfast bar

Modern kitchen with breakfast bar

A common, and often inexpensive, upgrade homeowners often opt for is adding a breakfast bar in the kitchen. A breakfast bar provides more counter space, additional space to entertain, as well as extra space for eating. Homes with breakfast bars have a median listing price of $364,900, almost $39,000 more than the average list price in Texas.

*Per home listing data on Redfin.com, as of November 2020. 

Individual results may vary. This is not intended as a substitute for the services of a licensed real estate agent, or licensed and bonded home services professional or appraiser.

Source: redfin.com