10 Tips for Buying A House Sight Unseen


I’ve bought two houses sight unseen. Well, technically, not. I went under contract on two houses sight unseen, and then I visited them during the home inspection period.

And unless you’re a seasoned vet, this is what I also recommend for you.

During COVID, buying a home became much more common without attending an open house.

Virtual tours took over.

That’s great for you because real estate agents and lenders are now extremely familiar with the process, making it seamless for you.

Psht…I closed on my second home from inside a UPS store a few hundred miles away.

But with such a large purchase, there are always things to be aware of.

Here are some tips for buying a home sight unseen:

1. Do your research

So, you’ve got a good deal on a house in another state. You’re ready to put in an offer and seal the deal. But before you sign on the dotted line, there are some things to consider—like whether your new home is what it’s cracked up to be.

Here are some questions to get answered:

  • Does the location have access to public transportation?
  • Is there a shopping mall nearby?
  • Is the neighborhood safe or full of crime?
  • How is the school system?
  • What is the walk score in the neighborhood?
  • Will your kids be able to walk to school?

If you’re purchasing an investment property remotely, your criteria will change a bit, but you still want to ensure that you’re knowledgeable about the location.

2. Specifically, research the location and the amenities nearby

downtown area

Find out what is within walking distance.

You don’t have to buy a house next door to the grocery store, but if you’re planning on walking anywhere and don’t drive, it’s good to know how far it is.

Also, find out what isn’t within walking distance.

Not every place has everything: some areas have a lot of amenities close by, while others have very few or None. It can be Nice when things are nearby—you don’t want to waste time driving everywhere—but sometimes it’s better not to have something too close by (like smelly factories).

3. Research the other homes in the neighborhood

Research the other homes in the neighborhood. If you’re buying a house sight unseen, it’s crucial to know the value of the homes around you.

Check out the neighborhood’s website. Neighborhoods often have their own website with information about the area’s safety, what amenities are available, and other things that might help your decision-making process (like fun facts about local restaurants).

4. Know what is negotiable

Negotiating the price of a property is pretty straightforward.

Ask your real estate agent to ask for a price reduction on your list of home inspection repairs. If the seller refuses, decide if you still want to purchase the home.

The home inspection period is how long you have after signing to get a home inspector in there to check everything out before closing happens; it’s typically 7-14 days but can be shorter or longer depending on local codes or seller preferences — ask around if this isn’t clearly stated in your contract!

As part of this process, most buyers will also request some kind of home inspection contingency clause so that they don’t end up buying a house with major problems.

5. Focus on value over price

When buying a home unseen, focus on “value over price.” Don’t let the seller know you’re eager to buy. They can take advantage of your enthusiasm and inflate the price if they know that.

Don’t be afraid to negotiate with your realtor when looking at properties in person. You may not get as much room for negotiation when buying online—but don’t let that deter you from doing what’s best for your family’s budget!

If the home appraises for less than what was paid, try to negotiate a purchase price closer to the appraised value. If the appraised value is extremely low, there’s something wrong with the house or neighborhood (or both). This could spell disaster for your investment when repairs become necessary.

As stated in your loan contingency, the mortgage lender may refuse to lend you the money if the appraised value is too low compared to the purchase price. In this case, it’s possible for the buyer to cancel the contract and get a refund of the earnest money deposit since they’re unable to secure a mortgage.

6. Have your real estate agent conduct a virtual tour

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Photos and videos are all you have since you’re not physically touring the property at a traditional open house.

Ask the seller for video footage of the space, especially if it is an apartment or condo. A video will show you a lot more than just photos can, including noise levels and traffic patterns outside your window. It’s also helpful to understand how much sunlight comes into each room.

The beauty of a video tour is that it shows off a home’s features and amenities. For example, if the property has an outdoor space or pool, a video tour will show you what the pool currently looks like and if it’s well-maintained.

You can also use virtual tours to get a sense of what life in the neighborhood will be like. Are there lots of kids running around? Do cars whiz past on the street? If so, are they loud or obnoxious?

And last but not least, ask about the smell! Sometimes you can tell from pictures that something funky is going on in another room—like a wet basement or lingering smell of smoke—but seeing it yourself with your own two eyes could be enough to change your mind about purchasing it.

7. Don’t be shy

This is your time. This is your home purchase. Everyone else working on the deal is working for you.

Never hesitate to ask your realtor to see another house, receive more photos of a house, or call the seller’s agent one more time.

But be genuinely prepared to purchase when you find the right home. The last thing you want to do is waste your agent’s time.

8. Find a good real estate agent that you trust

If you want to buy a house sight unseen, your best bet is to find a real estate agent who is knowledgeable about the area. Hopefully, they’ve got a good reputation and are easy to work with.

Here’s the thing: your agent is trained to know what questions to ask and how to help you make the best decision. Some are also professional negotiators capable of negotiating a good deal on an unseen house. Most likely, this will be your agent’s manager.

Your agent will ask questions about what kind of home you want, including size and style (e.g., ranch or Cape Cod). They’ll also get a feel for what type of community would make sense for you—that way; they can focus on houses in areas that meet those criteria.

In addition, if any features or amenities within a certain radius are essential to consider (e.g., an excellent school district), they’ll also narrow down those options!

9. Find a home inspector you trust.

signing contract

When choosing a home inspector, choose an inspector with a lot of experience.

The more experience your inspector has, the better he or she will be able to spot potential problems and provide recommendations for fixing them.

On the other hand, if you hire someone who has been in business for only a few years, they may not have encountered everything that could go wrong with a house yet—and therefore won’t be able to provide insight into how much work is needed or where potential problems might arise.

10. Trust your instincts

Trust your gut feeling and the instinctual, sometimes even irrational, sense that comes with it.

Your realtor and inspector will help you along the process, but the decision comes down to you. It’s your money, and you will live there, so don’t hesitate to ask questions and be sure about your decision.



Buying a house you haven’t seen can be risky, even if it looks like a great deal. You should walk away if there’s even a tiny chance that you’ll regret the purchase.

To minimize your chances of buyer’s remorse, do your homework before signing on the dotted line.

Learn about the neighborhood and what amenities are nearby:

  • Is it close to work? Near grocery stores? 
  • Does it have access to schools or parks? 
  • What does the neighborhood look like in general—is it safe with lots of friendly neighbors, or is it full of crime and drugs? 
  • Is there an HOA (Homeowners’ Association) that monitors lawn upkeep, noise levels, and street parking restrictions? 
  • Who lives next door (and how many)? Do they seem friendly? Are they quiet at night so you can get some sleep when you need it most after a long day at work? 
  • What kind of yard maintenance will be required given where I want my new home located—do I need something big enough for pets/children/hobbies but not too big for me since we’re only renting temporary housing right now anyways?

I hope this content was helpful and that you feel more confident when purchasing a house sight unseen.

Kurby Team

The Kurby Content Team is a diverse group of seasoned real estate experts dedicated to providing insightful, reliable information for homebuyers, real estate investors, and real estate agents. With backgrounds ranging from real estate brokerage, property investment, and residential home buying, our team combines decades of experience with a passion for demystifying the real estate world. We at Kurby are committed to helping you make informed, successful real estate decisions. Whether you're a first-time homebuyer, a seasoned investor, or a real estate professional, count on the Kurby Content Team to deliver the most relevant, actionable real estate content you need.

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