Buying a home is always an exciting and risky experience whether you are a first-time home buyer in Ontario, looking to upgrade, or are purchasing another investment property. Since the global pandemic has been in full swing, seeing a home before you buy it might not be an option for you due to location or personal comfort, and is now readily available by most brokers and agents through virtual home tours.
In some situations, you might be thinking about putting in an offer without taking a tour of the property in advance or debating doing a few virtual home tours with your agent first. But, would this be a good approach for such a large investment?
When is it a good idea to buy a home without viewing it first?
There are some specific situations where buying a home without going to see it first is a good idea.
- When the property is in another location that is far away.
If the property you are interested in is out of your province, or requires a significant amount of travel, then buying it without visiting it first could be your best bet. You will not need to spend any money or time trying to get there, book accommodations, or pay for any meals while you are visiting. For example if you are living in British Columbia and looking to head towards the east coast, a google search for “first time home buyer ontario” or “virtual home tour in Toronto” would be a great place to start.
Plus, this will allow you to use your time for other responsibilities, as you won’t need to take time off from work or use your vacation days for traveling there and back again.
- When the real estate market is hot.
In areas and neighborhoods that have high demand but low housing supply, it is not unusual for sellers to find a buyer within days of posting their listing, or even on the same day. Buying a home without viewing it first will let you act fast, and the quicker that you can reach the seller with an attractive offer, the more likely you will be able to outbid others who are interested as well. This approach should only be considered when you have enough real estate experience and are financially capable of taking on the investment and potential maintenance requirements that can arise once you see it in person.
- When you are firm on the location.
Maybe you have lived in a certain area in the past, or you want to be closer to friends and family, or you need to relocate for work. Whatever the reason, you might be willing to prioritize location over the state of the property itself, and you have a budget available to do some minor repairs or renovations.
If the location of the home is the most important aspect for you, then purchasing a property without needing to view it first could be a good option for your circumstances.
When is buying a home without viewing it a bad idea?
While buying a home without seeing it first could benefit you, there are definitely some drawbacks associated with doing so.
- You will not be able to get the full details of the home.
This is one of the greatest downsides to buying a home without seeing it first. Even though you could see plenty of pictures and videos, take 3D tours and video calls with an agent on-site, you will not be able to get a real feel for the property unless you actually go there yourself.
You will not be able to find flaws like mold, unpleasant smells, noisy neighbors, or poor lighting. Pictures of homes for sale are typically edited and taken during the day at times when the home looks its best.
And virtual tours can always be staged to show only the good parts of the home, but once you get there you might find that the rooms are smaller than they looked or the ceiling is lower than you thought it was just from looking at the photos alone.
- The seller may view your offer as a risk and reject it.
Although many home sellers are eager to sell, getting an offer from someone who did not view the home can be seen as a risk. This is because the sale could be delayed due to the buyer needing inspections and appraisals, since they can’t see the home themselves. There is also a higher chance that the deal will fall through.
Hot market conditions could lead some buyers to place an offer without viewing the property first in an attempt to weed out the competition, then end up backing out once they do visit or if their demands cannot be met. However, this is a very risky approach; most sellers view going back on the market as a bad thing, as it could make their property look less appealing to new buyers.
As well, breaking the Agreement of Purchase and Sale (APS) gives the sellers grounds to sue the buyers, and they are generally entitled to keep any deposit paid up to that point, unless the APS specified otherwise. Even if the sellers successfully sell the property after putting it back on the market, if it sells for less than what the original offer stipulated, the original buyer could be liable for the difference in profit.
Book a property view request, even if it needs to be a virtual home tour.
It’s always a good idea to at least do a virtual tour of your prospective property. This way, you can get a real time look at the property when it’s not staged and set up for photos. With Zoocasa, booking a virtual home tour to view Ontario real estate is only a few clicks away.