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November 22, 2013
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Vail Daily column: Should I buy a house I've never seen?

Dear Joan,

We live out of state but come to the Vail Valley often. We have been looking for a “great deal” on a home for a couple of years now. Our Realtor has just sent us information on what she thinks is a “great deal” and has told us it will not last long at this price. We are unable to come to the valley until the end of the year, and she says it will be gone. She has sent us the MLS pictures plus more of her own pictures. Do you think it is safe to buy a property we have never seen? We are really tempted to go forward. What do you think?

Dear “Tempted,”

I have made it a policy to not sell a property that the buyer has not physically seen, with the exception of a few outlying properties. However, I broke my own policy last winter when I had a similar situation. I helped my buyers write an offer that beat out more than a half dozen other offers on a home they had never seen. We went through the whole inspection and closing and they saw the property for the first time a few weeks after they were already the owners. Here are the factors we considered and maybe they will help you with your decision:

• I knew the buyers very well, both husband and wife, after two-plus years of showing them properties when they were in town.

• I knew what they wanted, i.e. location, size, bedrooms, baths, living space inside and out.

• I knew what they wanted to pay and their ability to physically and financially make repairs, updates and any changes they would deem necessary.

• They knew me and trusted me completely and felt confident in my real estate experience and knowledge.

• The final factor that made me comfortable to go forward was the knowledge that if they did not like the home when they arrived, then I could sell it again and get them all of their money back.

So, a summary of the above information would be: Know and trust your real estate agent, know your own financial capability and your temperament, and know the area in which the property is located. Plus, I highly recommend a thorough inspection, with experts looking at the major mechanical systems and the construction. If you do not have all of these factors in place, then I would wait until you could come and personally view the property. It still might be available or if it is gone, then we always say that there will be “another deal.” And, that is true, but they do not come along every day (as you know), so it is always worth examining each one as they become available. I hope this helps. Best of luck in making your informed decision.

Joan Harned is an owner-broker for Keller Williams Mountain Properties and heads up Team Black Bear, her own real estate team. Harned has been selling real estate in Eagle County for 27 years, is a past chairman of the Vail Board of Realtors, past Realtor of the Year, past director on the Great Outdoors Colorado Board and a member of the Luxury and Land Institutes. Contact Harned with your real estate questions at, 970-337-7777 or

Know and trust your real estate agent, know your own financial capability and your temperament, and know the area in which the property is located.

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The VailDaily Updated Nov 22, 2013 07:47PM Published Nov 22, 2013 02:43PM Copyright 2013 The VailDaily. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.