Should you make an offer prior to viewing a property?

Well, at least a third of the buyer pool appears to think so…and the trend is growing, not shrinking. 35% of home buyers last year made offers on properties sight unseen, up from 19% in 2016. LA and San Diego lead the way in this trend at nearly 50%. As surprising as this might seem, the metric does not differentiate between investors or owner-occupants, and these big metro areas are prime targets for investors.
Most would agree that the face of home buying has changed dramatically in the past 5 years. Buyers have so much more information available to them today. Access to the MLS and home search apps that continue to evolve and deliver critical information right to their fingertips, almost rendering a viewing unnecessary.
Here’s a few points to consider, though. If you’re relying strictly on photographs and video, do you trust the integrity of that medium? Have you ever looked at photos or video online, and then went to physically look at the home…and were surprised that it appeared unique to the photos you viewed? Many of us have, that’s why we go look at them.
However, in high-competitive markets, making offers sight unseen can be a fruitful strategy. In most contracts, buyers have a due diligence period built in…an opportunity to inspect, appraise, and learn all of the information needed to make an informed decision. Until those buyer contingencies are released, they have no real exposure or obligation, other than the cost of those inspections…but that could be upwards of a $1000.00. In a buyer’s market, the seller may pay for those, but in a seller’s market, it’s not likely that a seller will pay for those…so you’re on the hook, and most people won’t take the risk. That said, In highly competitive markets, waiting a few days until you can schedule a showing may cost you an opportunity at that property. So what do you do?
At the end of the day, you should do what is comfortable for you. Although the trend appears to be growing rapidly, like anything else, it’s not for everyone. Consider all factors, including market conditions, and make an informed decision that best suits your needs.