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How to buy property sight unseen and not regret it

Purchasing a property sight unseen is risky, but sometimes necessary. Here's what you can do to mitigate the risk on your part.

Buying Property Sight Unseen

Article summary

  • Buying a property sight unseen is a risk, but sometimes necessary, and there are services that cater to it.
  • You have a number of options, such as renting the property first, or including suspensive conditions in the offer to purchase.
  • You can also inspect the property virtually, although it helps to hire an estate agent to provide you with additional information.

So you’ve identified a house you want but you aren’t able to attend a viewing. Buying a property without seeing it is risky, but it happens, and there are ways to mitigate the risk.

We provide a few tips for buying a property sight unseen.

Buying property sight unseen: What are your options?

  1. Rent first.
  2. Use Google Earth.
  3. Hire an estate agent.
  4. Organise a property inspection.
  5. Get prequalified.
  6. Offer to purchase.

1. Rent first
A viable option that you want to consider. This gives you time to get a feel for living in a property before making the commitment to buy.

2. Use Google Earth
You can use this famous app to check out the area surrounding a property and get an idea of the neighbourhood. This will also allow you to see what attractions and facilities are close by.

3. Hire an estate agent
An estate agent is an invaluable asset when purchasing a home, especially if the home is sight unseen. They can perform the research on your behalf and advise you as to whether the property suits your requirements.

4. Organise a property inspection
You don’t need to attend a home viewing yourself to arrange a property inspection. This is always vital to the home purchase process, and if you’re buying the property sight unseen, you’ll certainly want the inspector to pick up any patent defects since you won’t be there to identify them yourself.

Get prequalified
Prequalification determines what home loan you can afford based on your current financial situation and credit record. If you’re purchasing a home sight unseen, prequalification will at least give you an idea of what you can afford.

5. Offer to purchase
The offer to purchase is a signed agreement between buyer and seller. Once you’ve signed it there’s no going back, so if you decide you don’t want the property anymore, well, you’re stuck with it, unless you’re willing to incur the significant penalties that come with pulling out of an offer to purchase.

That is, unless the seller fails to fulfil their obligations. This frees you from the agreement. So the offer to purchase is your chance to include conditions that will make the purchase a safer investment for you. For example, you can stipulate that a portion of the sale proceeds be retained until you have had time to live in the property for a specified period of time.

Whether the seller will agree to these conditions is another story, but they may consider it if they’re eager to seal a deal for the home.

Buying properties online

Buying a property sight unseen is not as much of a risk as it used to be, thanks to digital technologies that specifically cater to home buyers who are unable to be physically present on the property.

Virtual tours of properties are common nowadays. Of course, be aware that photos of the property can be misleading and paint it in a better light. This is why it helps to have an estate agent verify the accuracy of such information.

Obtaining the home loan

Whether you’re purchasing a property sight unseen or not, you can get the best deal on your home loan with the services of a home loan comparison service such as ooba Home Loans.

We submit your home loan application to multiple banks (including your own), granting you the opportunity to compare deals and interest rates offered by the various banks.

We also offer a range of tools that can make the home-buying process easier.  Start with our Bond Calculator, then use our Bond Indicator to determine what you can afford. Finally, when you’re ready, you can apply for a home loan.

Get a free home loan comparison

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Jay Govender and Maleshini Reddy from OOBA provided outstanding assistance and guidance in securing our home loan. Response times were excellent and they were professional and friendly.

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Estelle Vorster was really helpful in securing the best deal for my home loan, she not only negotiated a lower interest rate she went as far as securing 50% discount on the transfer costs.

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