Buying Sight Unseen

October 4th, 2021

The number of people prepared to buy an expensive property sight-unseen has increased. This trend was occurring anyway prior to Covid but due to lockdowns, it has grown – just like working from home. People are now familiar with buying anything and everything online. Now if you are in lockdown, it is a necessity.


Buying an item of clothing for a couple of hundred dollars without trying it in is one thing. Spending a million dollars or more on such a big decision is another matter. Obviously, the ideal option is to engage a qualified buyer’s agent to inspect a property for you. The demand for buyer’s agents has increased during lockdowns. Over the years I have always bought for people who were not able to be there. But in the past, it was usually for clients who were unable to inspect that particular instance and we had already built up a level of trust with me. Because of FOMO and such a heated market, many buyers are just putting in a call to an agent and making offers without leaving the keyboard.


Personally, I would never buy a home myself online. Maybe an investment property that I was not planning to live in. Buying a home is such a personal thing and there are so many subjective considerations that can influence your decision. When I inspect a property for a client I am assessing so many things that cannot be judged adequately online: aspect, street noise, views, layout, quality of the build. But the main assessment is “Does this place feel good?”



Below is a list of things to consider if you are buying online. It is provided by the Ray White REA Group. The information was prompted by the fact that their franchises did over 400 sales in Melbourne alone during the lockdown and no one was able to inspect in person at all.


Would you buy a house, even if you had never physically seen it, let alone been inside? Want to buy online? What do you need to think about?


  1. Get the agent to take you through the property with a live video walkthrough
  2. If possible, have someone look at the property on your behalf.
  3. Speak to neighbours, or people that live in the area to get an idea of the location of the property
  4. Have a checklist of what you want to know about the property – you need to be more thorough compared to when you can’t look at a property
  5. Have a building inspection is done of the property, including a pest inspection
  6. Understand what recourse you have if there is something about the property that could substantially impact its value that you weren’t aware of. This varies depending on where you buy


Want to sell online? What should you consider?

  1. Invest in marketing and styling – make sure that photography looks great. And video walkthroughs are well put together
  2. Make sure you pick an agent experienced in selling sight unseen and is tech-savvy
  3. Make it easy for buyers by providing as much information on the property as possible
  4. Appeal to what you love about the house (great backyard, nice views) and area (e.g., where the schools are, best coffee shops)
  5. Take advantage of the market – selling in a locked-down environment is currently resulting in strong sale prices because of lack of stock



Some text provided by Nerida Conisbee, Ray White Chief Economist

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