How To Look At A House
McGarry and Madsen's home inspection blog for buyers of
site-built, mobile/manufactured and modular homes
What are the problems with buying a house sight unseen?
Saturday, December 25, 2021
Buyers have to move fast when they see a house they want in today’s hot real estate market. It is not unusual for a home to sell on the first day of listing, and sometimes at thousands more than the asking price. Out-of-town buyers lose out if they don’t make an offer quickly.
So we often do a home inspection for a faraway buyer that will not set foot in the house until just before closing. Usually things work out alright, but there are times when a buyer finally sees the home they have bought, and it’s less wonderful than it appeared in the listing photos and videos. Sometimes much less wonderful.
A home inspection we did last week is a comic example. A buyer from upstate New York made an offer, based only on the listing photos, for a double-wide located just outside a rural central Florida town. The home was on a couple of acres, with oak trees and sabal palms dotted around it. The inspection went alright but, when we learned the buyer had not actually seen the house, we decided to tell him two things about the property that he did not know and are not part of a regular home inspection:1) The homesite was on a perimeter road next to the Florida Turnpike. Heavy, noisy traffic 24-hours a day was on the other side of their road. You had to raise your voice to have a conversation in the front yard, and...
2) A large billboard advertising the 24-hour adult bookstore at the next Turnpike exit was in the front yard, beside the entry drive. So the home was not quite as rural and picturesque as it appeared in the listing photos.
If you absolutely have to buy a house sight unseen, we recommend having a friend or professional in the area stop by the home to be your eyes and ears. Plus, Google Street View is invaluable as a way to walk up and the down the nearby streets and get a feel for the neighborhood. And a home inspection by a licensed professional inspector after the contract is signed is yet another safeguard.
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To learn more strategies for making the best possible home purchase decision, here’s a few of our other blog posts:
To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:
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Buying a home in North/Central Florida? for a team inspection by two FL-licensed contractors and inspectors. Over 8,500 inspections completed in 20+ years. In a hurry? We will get it done for you.