Your offer was just accepted for a property you have never seen!
Congrats! You did it. You took the careful, considered approach and wrote a sight-unseen offer because it was the best option available given the current circumstances.
Be sure you have a clear understanding of the contract, your options and timing for reconsideration, and what your “outs” are, legally. Buying sight unseen doesn’t give you different rights, so you need to be sure that your options along the way are in line with your expectations. Every state, region, and contract is different. Be sure you’re working with an agent who can point those opportunities out, keep track of the deadlines (if any), explain options along the way, and discuss what backing out might cost you in terms of money, lost opportunities, and other financial risks.
For a lot of buyers, the inspection is the opening for reconsideration. If you can only make one trip out, make it out for the inspection. Here’s why:
1. If you can only make one trip, your time at the house will be as long as the inspection itself. Inspections usually take several hours, which is more time than most buyers spend in a property before writing an offer.
2. The inspection is time to learn about a property, its construction, why it has/hasn’t stood the test of time, etc. You’ll learn about the area, street, neighborhood, etc., anyway, but there’s only one chance to be there for an inspection.
3. The inspection time will give you insight into all the things that video can’t show, and lets you experience those over a longer, more realistic timeframe. Did that smell fade? Or did you grow to hate it as the minutes went by? Did the noise fade into the background? Or is it grating on your nerves?
If you decide for whatever reason or at whatever point to bail out (properly and legally), reassess the process. Did something no one considered catch you off guard? Did you just get cold feet? Uncover something adverse or unexpected? Carefully examining your reasons for not going forward should give you a good idea of whether your decision was process-based or property-based. Then you can decide if your next purchase warrants the same approach.
Buying without seeing isn’t common, but it’s not unheard of either, and there are a lot of reasons to consider that option. Most of us comfortably buy things online that we’ve never seen or felt, and while purchasing a home isn’t the same as purchasing a pair of shoes, many of the same approaches apply: Do your homework; get recommendations; think about your personal proclivities, general risk tolerance, and disposition; and be sure you know what your “return” options are once you make the purchase.
A great buyer agent can bridge most of those gaps for you, so don’t dismiss it out of hand. I love hearing, “It’s even better in person than I thought it would be!” Few things could be more satisfying for an agent than helping a buyer out of a tough spot with a move that required a bit of creativity. You can do it, too, if you need to!
Deborah Rutter is an Associate Broker at Nest Realty with passion for teaching. She knows buyers and sellers make the smartest decisions for themselves when they are armed with data and insight. She has taught first-time homebuyer education classes, and is a featured contributor on our blog.