Ask a Broker: Is it a bad idea to buy sight unseen?
Ask a Broker
Question: We want to buy a residence in the Vail Valley, but we live out of state and can’t always get there quick enough to see it in person. The market is so competitive right now, we just want to get our offer in. Is it a bad idea to buy sight unseen?
Answer: The standing inventory for sale in the Vail Valley continues to hover at a low number. In earlier years, our residential inventory offered roughly 1,000 properties for purchase and in the current year, the active residential inventory is around 250. Rentals and residences in the Vail Valley can be difficult to obtain without the right real estate professional to help you from afar.
The eagerness of buyers to get into the market has some associated risks. A responsible real estate broker will advise their buyers and walk them through the real estate sales contract and so they understand these risks and the potential consequences as a buyer purchasing a property sight unseen.
Over the last two years, our market has seen buyers put in offers without seeing the property, especially from outside of the area. We are also seeing buyers waive essential contingencies — such as the right to see a property — to make themselves more appealing to sellers who have their pick of offers to choose from in current times.
The results of these deals are mixed: Sometimes things go smoothly, and the deal will close without incident. In other instances, we’ve seen instant buyer’s remorse or worse — the buyer vanishes never to be heard from again, costing the seller time and money while the home is under contract and off the market, hidden from other potential buyers.
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It’s natural for buyers to feel haste when there are multiple offers on the table and they want to get their hat in the ring. The problem is, sometimes they get so focused on the deal they lose sight of what matters most: Doing your due diligence before making a commitment to a property.
There are several reasons to see a property on site. Every property is unique and there are many factors that can’t be seen in photos, videos or even over FaceTime. The trauma of discovering unwelcomed surprises after it’s too late can be avoided with a tour of the property in person. In fact, viewing a property is one of the most basic tenets of due diligence.
For the seller, accepting an offer from a buyer sight unseen has its own set of risks. If a buyer ultimately backs out, the seller loses time and money, not to mention the stress of having to go back to square one.
The Vail Valley real estate market remains strong and there are plenty of buyers who are ready to make a move. Despite the inherent risks, market conditions are still favorable to the seller. Buyers who have spent a lot of time in the Vail Valley and are familiar with the neighborhood where they are buying are at much lower risk. Buyers who are financially able to take a risk can also be favorable to a seller. Many deals close smoothly.
Do not be discouraged as a buyer in this market. Transactions are still occurring with low inventory and with the right recipe and broker you will be poised for success.
Cara Connolly has more than two decades of local expertise assisting clientele with resort real estate sales and luxury rentals throughout the Vail Valley. She is a director for the Vail Board of Realtors and was most recently named the 2021 Rising Star for Slifer Smith & Frampton Real Estate. Cara can be reached at 970-401-4071 or via email firstname.lastname@example.org .