Navigating The Unknown: Buying A Home In A New City Sight Unseen

Posted on: 13 September 2023

Relocating to a new city is thrilling but can also be laden with challenges, especially when purchasing a home you've never physically visited. Technology and professional relationships can make it easier, but you'll need a strategic approach to reduce risks and ensure you're making a sound decision. Here's a guide to buying a home in a new city, without seeing it in person first.

Do Your Research

The internet is a treasure trove of information. Look for websites or forums where residents discuss their city's pros and cons. Read local news, check out the city's official website, and study local real estate listings. You'll want to understand neighborhood dynamics, including safety, schools, amenities, and proximity to your workplace or other vital locations.

Virtual Tours and Live Video

Most real estate agents now offer virtual home tours using 3D technology, allowing potential buyers to "walk through" the property online. It gives a better sense of the space compared to static photos. For a more personal touch, ask your agent to do a live video tour using platforms like FaceTime or Zoom, so you can ask questions in real-time.

Work with a Local Agent

A local real estate agent is your eyes and ears on the ground. Choose someone experienced, with positive reviews, and preferably one who's familiar with helping out-of-town buyers. Your agent can provide insights about the property, neighborhood, and the city's housing market that you might not get from online sources alone.

Consider a Home Inspection

When buying sight unseen, a home inspection is more crucial than ever. An inspector will provide an objective view of the property's condition, ensuring there aren't hidden problems that might cost you later on. Ensure the inspector provides a detailed report, complete with photos and descriptions, so you have a clear understanding of any issues.

Ask About Contingencies

Given the unique nature of buying a home without viewing it first, your purchase agreement should have specific contingencies that protect you. These can include the right to withdraw your offer if the home doesn't pass inspection or if something comes up that wasn't disclosed by the seller.

Connect with Neighbors Online

Platforms like Nextdoor or Facebook neighborhood groups can be beneficial. Introduce yourself and ask for opinions about the neighborhood, amenities, and anything specific to the house you're considering. Often, locals will share unfiltered insights that can be incredibly valuable.

Factor in a Potential Visit

While the goal is to buy without seeing the home, if possible, budget for a quick trip to visit before the final purchase. It's an additional cost, but seeing the home and neighborhood, even briefly, can give you a level of comfort before making a significant commitment.

If you are relocating, buy a home with the help of a local real estate agent.