Some time last year, I had two different buyers who inquired about buying a home long distance. This happens with regularily since San Diego is a popular destination.The challenge is that neither of these parties resided in San Diego, each living about an 8 hour drive away. The stories were very similar. Each wanted me to scout out properties and then they would submit an offer without having seen the property.
The conversations were awkward as I tried to explain the challenges of this strategy. It’s always been difficult to buy at a distance. But in this market, where good homes sell within a week, it’s near impossible. Here are a couple of the main challenges:
- I have told many folks over the years that I can’t possibly pick a home for you until I’ve gone out home shopping with you at least a few times. By spending time with you, and seeing how you react to different homes, I can and will learn your home preferences. Asking me however to choose homes without the benefit of this experience is setting me up for failure. How could I possibly get it right when I’ve never even met you?
- Writing blind offers has become increasingly common in this tough buyer’s market. Buyers are sending out offers without having seen the property they are bidding on! Agents are now adding on their listings “no blind listings” and I have adopted the same policy. Even if the buyers are willing, it not smart real estate practice. Just recently I received several blind offers on one of my listings…and in each case the buyer changed their mind when seeing the home. This made for a lot of paperwork and unnecessary drama.
- On a practical level, an out of town buyer can’t always get to a property in time to make an informed bid on it. I just had a listing sell in 2 days. That’s the way of the market right now.
My suggestions for buying a home long distance
At the very least, come into town for a few days and I will make my time totally available to you. Even if we don’t find your dream home during that time, what we will discover together are your preferences. Seeing a neighborhood, street, or home is very different in real life than on a picture. MLS photos are just snapshots – they rarely show you the whole picture. After a few solid days, we will have a clearer plan of what you want and how to obtain it.
The next and best option is to come to town and secure a rental while we are looking for your home. I had one couple who lived oversees do just that. They obtained a monthly rental and we went out house hunting every day until we got a contract.
So, in summary, you CAN buy a home long distance. At some point however, you need to come here. Technology is a wonderful thing and has made so much of our lives easier. But there is no substitute for driving around a neighborhood, talking to folks that live in a community, and viewing homes in person.
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