A family I follow on Instagram is moving to a new state, due to the husband being relocated to a new Army base. They had just a few weeks to find a house they wanted to make an offer on, to be able to get through escrow and close so everything was set when it was time for them to move. The catch? The wife was 8 months pregnant and unable to travel to go view homes. Their realtor sent them a few listings that met their criteria and then FaceTimed with them for “showings”. They fell in love with one of the houses and despite not seeing it in person, made an offer that was accepted. Upon their offer being accepted, the husband was able to view the home in person, and fortunately, he loved it even more. The wife still has not seen the house in person.
Now this got me wondering, is this is something we’ll be seeing more of in the coming years? As it turns out, this is not that uncommon, and it appears to be a growing trend. According to a survey conducted by Redfin, 35% of home buyers made an offer, sight-unseen last year. Which is up from 19% in 2016. This is a trend dominated mostly by Millennials; 45% of Millennial home buyers last year made an offer sight-unseen. This could be due to Millennials comfort with making purchases on the internet as online-shopping makes up more than half of Millennials purchases, excluding groceries (Blumenthan, Eli. “Millennials drive spike in online shopping” USA Today. June 2016).
An important part of making an offer on house you haven’t seen, would be a thorough realtor. If your realtor can take you on some sort of video tour through the home, more than just depending on the photos posted online, it may help you get a better feel for the property and help you decide. An agent cited in the Redfin article, who had helped a family make an offer on a home they’d not seen in person, noted that she found it important to explain things they’d not be able to experience virtually. For example, sounds, smells and textures or flaws hard to detect through video.
The housing shortage doesn’t seem to have an end in sight and with more Millennials entering the housing market, sight-unseen offers are likely to become more and more normal. There are several reasons for making an offer sight-unseen, like the already mentioned relocating, lack of time or scheduling conflicts for showings, and as this becomes more popular, one reason may be purely for convenience sake.
What do you think of this rising trend? Would you make an offer on a house you hadn’t seen in person?