See no evil? Buying a house unseen

The Momentum UK Team 7 February 2014

Buying a house sight-unseen is one of those things that brings to mind the phrase “caveat emptor”, buyer beware.

In a competitive market, or if you’re buying a property some distance away skipping a viewing or even a survey, can give you the opportunity to complete a purchase before other buyers get a look in, but it can also have disastrous consequences.

Gambling on property

While buying a house unseen could potentially put you ahead of the competition, it’s also a very risky strategy and you could end up with a lemon. In the majority of instances if you don’t have the correct expertise, experience in real estate and luck combined, buying sight-unseen could lead to problems. Even if you do have the knowledge, it’s possible that a detail will slip through the cracks, and you’ll still end up with a property worth less than you paid or with serious unforeseen problems.

Two eyes are better than none

If you’re unable to view a property that you want to buy for yourself you may want to consider getting a trusted person to do it for you. You could even get a friend of family member to view the property and make a video to share with you. An extensive survey by a certified surveyor could help flag up many of the problems with a property, many of which you might not have been able to identify even if you had been there in person. Equally a trusted agent could also be your saving grace. Sight-unseen purchases rely on the trustworthiness of the estate agent, as well as the accurateness of the photographs. Getting a contractor and surveyor to look over the property could help you be reassured that it’s in good shape as well as helping cover you in future if things go wrong.

Is it for you?

Not for the faint-hearted or the inexperienced, this is a practice that relies on nerves of steel and confidence in your own decisions with limited information but most importantly you need to be aware of and comfortable with all of the risks involved. It’s a gamble. Sight-unseen purchases often happen in much more competitive markets, but it’s still important to make sure that you’re confident you’re making the right decision.

Get the money matters sorted

However you’re thinking of purchasing a property, make sure you understand all that’s involved first. If you’re interested in buying a property for the first time, or remortgaging an existing property, then you might find our guides useful.