Real Estate

You’ll Be Shocked to Learn How Many People Buy Homes Sight Unseen

published Oct 17, 2017
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(Image credit: Jacqueline Marque)

Would you buy a home without ever having seen it in person? Personally, I would never—and while most people would probably agree, a truly surprising number of people would make an offer on a home without taking a tour first.

According to a recent report from Redfin, 1 in 3 recent homebuyers said they actually made an offer on a home, sight unseen. A year ago, it was 1 in 5—so buying homes sight unseen is actually becoming more popular—up 19 percent, to be exact (and up 21 percent from two years ago).

By generation, millennials were also more likely to make an offer on a home they hadn’t seen in person, with 41 percent saying they had, compared to 30 percent of Gen-Xers and 12 percent of Baby Boomers.

So why are more and more people skipping open hours and tours to make sight-unseen offers? Redfin attributes the rise to advances in listing technology—now, listings come with an “abundance of photos” and often have 3D walkthroughs available to potential buyers—of course, combined with the competitive nature of the housing market.

“The strong prevalence of sight-unseen bids this year is likely due in great part to the record-fast speed of today’s highly competitive housing market,” the report explained. “The typical home that sold in May went under contract in just 37 days, a week faster than homes were selling a year ago and the fastest pace on record since at least 2010 when Redfin began keeping track.”

Given the struggle to find affordable housing—which the report also notes is homebuyers’ biggest economic concern—this makes sense; the faster you move, the better your chances of getting the house you want, and arranging tours can obviously delay the process.

But even with 3D walkthroughs available online, this still seems risky—for those who have successfully purchased homes sight unseen (it’s unclear how many did buy homes they’d never set foot in, since the report only covers those who made offers), it’d be interesting to see data on what regrets they have, if any.

You can read the rest of the report at Redfin.