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Buying Sight Unseen – What To Consider When Buying & Selling

By Olivia Hughes

Would you buy a house, even if you had never physically seen it, let alone been inside? Across Australia, we are now seeing more homes being sold sight unseen. In Melbourne alone where it wasn’t even possible to inspect a home for sale during lockdown, Ray White sold nearly 400 properties over a four week time period where no one had inspected the property.

Why are so many people buying sight unseen? It is driven by lockdown restrictions. This includes restrictions to movement, as well as a rise in people buying interstate. In South-East Queensland particularly, locked down buyers from Melbourne and Sydney have been particularly active.

Generally, younger people are more comfortable buying online. They are more used to transacting online and doing things differently with technology. It is also more common to buy an investment property online, as opposed to a big family home. Likely because it is more of a financial decision, as opposed to being somewhere that the buyer will live in.

The buyers are also mainly Australian buyers. International buyers have been active sight unseen buyers in the past but there are not many of them around at the moment.

Want to buy online? What do you need to think about?

  1. Get the agent to take you through the property with live video walk through
  2. If possible, have someone look at the property on your behalf.
  3. Speak to neighbours, or people that live in the area to get an idea of the location of the property
  4. Have a checklist of what you want to know about the property – you need to be more thorough compared to when you can’t look at a property
  5. Have a building inspection done of the property, including a pest inspection
  6. Understand what recourse you have is there is something about the property that could substantially impact its value that you weren’t aware of. This varies depending where you buy

Want to sell online? What should you consider?

  1. Invest in marketing and styling – make sure that photography looks great. And video walkthroughs are well put together
  2. Make sure you pick an agent experienced in selling sight unseen and is tech savvy
  3. Make it easy for buyers by providing as much information on the property as possible
  4. Appeal to what you love about the house (great backyard, nice views) and area (e.g., where the schools are, best coffee shops)
  5. Take advantage of the market – selling in a locked down environment is currently resulting in strong sale prices because of lack of stock

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