By Scott Russell
Today, it’s amazing how much business we can conduct in the comfort of wherever we are. People can shop online, carry out banking activities, and work from home remotely. Things have gone a step further because you can now even buy a house remotely.
There are many reasons why someone would want to buy a house remotely. According to the New York Times, about 63% of buyers made an offer on a home they hadn’t seen in the months of November and December 2020. In addition, 75% of millennial homebuyers are now working remotely because of the pandemic, and 63% of this population admit that their home search is motivated by the fact they have become remote workers.
If you’re a buyer looking for your next home, this spells wonderful news in many ways, but of course, you need to be cautious throughout the process. The convenience of online transactions is often tempered by its risks, but it’s possible to secure a positive outcome if you do your due diligence and you have an experienced real estate agent assisting you.
With that in mind, here’s what you need to know to buy a house remotely and successfully.
Partner With the Right Agent
The importance of finding the right agent can’t be overstated, and this is typically the first step if you want to ensure a successful home-buying experience. That’s because when you’re buying a house remotely, you still need an agent that can vet the place for you and give you the first-hand details you need to know. In a nutshell, here’s what you need to consider when choosing the best agent.
- Local agent. The agent should be closely familiar with the neighborhood and the community, the available amenities, and other interesting tidbits. They can also help provide information about the best local lenders and home inspectors in the area.
- Experience. The agent should have sufficient experience with the remote home buying process. This ensures that the agent will be able to walk you through the process and explain any technologies that may be needed to make the process smoother. Experienced real estate agents are more likely to find the most suitable properties and negotiate a better price for you.
- Availability. Buying real estate remotely requires a lot of back and forth, so it’s essential that the agent should have enough time for out-of-town clients. The agent needs to be available both during business hours and after hours so that everything can move forward quickly.
Once you have established that the real estate agent will be available as your proxy during crucial times and they have the right experience and knowledge, be sure to communicate with your agent as much as possible. No matter how experienced your agent is, they won’t be able to find the perfect property for you unless you’re very specific about your preferences and what you’re looking for when you buy a house remotely.
Therefore, it’s important to sit down and come up with a detailed wish list. When you share this wish list with your agent, they should be able to narrow down the search using factors such as pricing, square footage, the style and age of the home, and location. Other details like the number of bedrooms and bathrooms and whether or not the home has a basement also matter.
Be sure to also communicate about your deal-breakers so the agent doesn’t waste time chasing after the wrong listings. If your wish list changes at any point or you have any other concerns, don’t hesitate to let your agent know.
Find Out What Every Step Entails Before You Buy a House Remotely
While it’s true that an agent can be very helpful when you’re buying a home remotely, it still doesn’t hurt to do your own research. Here are some things to keep in mind.
- The offer. Be sure you understand the necessary offer terms for your state. You can review these with your agent so that when the time comes to make an offer, you’re already thinking about what to include in the offer. It’s very possible for negotiations to happen when the buyer and seller are long distance. Again, technology plays a crucial role and offers many communication channels, such as email, phone calls, and video conferencing.
- Appraisal. Your lender will also need to do an appraisal to secure financing when you buy a house remotely. Fortunately, the appraisal process isn’t too complicated and can be done without your physical presence. Usually, the value of a property is determined by comparing it with similar properties in the area that have recently sold or are on the market.
- Home Inspection. Your agent can schedule a home inspection without you being present. Be sure to ask the agent and inspector to call you at the end of the inspection to discuss any major findings. You can also review the inspector’s report to get a better understanding of all the physical aspects of the home.
- Title review. You will also need to do a title review so you are aware of the property’s ownership history and any restrictions that apply.
- Closing. This is the last step in the home buying process, and if you’re doing it remotely, you’ll be able to sign some paperwork online. The good news is your electronic signature is as legally binding as if you had signed the papers in person. Once your e-signature is in place, the documents are sent back to the other party. If a physical signature is required, such as in the case of notarized documents, the necessary documents will be FedExed. The most important part of the closing process is the wiring of funds to complete the transaction. From there, you will be ready for the move!
Even when all is said and done, be sure to do a final walkthrough – either yourself or through your agent’s camera – to confirm that the home is in good condition and everything is above board. Before you close on your home and after you make your offer, you’ll have time to do a final evaluation and be sure any agreed-upon repairs have been completed.
Some states allow an official due diligence period for home buyers. However, if your state doesn’t, you may have other contract contingencies that will protect you in the event you find a major issue with the house or the appraisal.. That way, you’re free to back out of the contract or renegotiate with the seller.
The good thing about this contingency period is that it allows you to review title documents, complete the financing process, and do other tasks before closing. You can also take this time to visit and view the property in person and conduct a thorough inspection before committing.
Learn the Tips and Tricks for Online House Hunting
To buy a house remotely in the past was unthinkable, but now it’s more than possible. Beyond the official steps you need to take, it’s also important to learn all the tips and tricks that help this process become a success. For instance, before you make your offer, your agent will give you a virtual tour of the property.
You need to be alert and vigilant during this process. Instead of trusting the photos, make sure the agent walks you through every part of the property during your video chat. Make notes so you can go over them later. Don’t be shy about asking your agent to go over a certain area again or open doors, check appliances, and test light switches.
Since nothing compares to an in-person inspection, you should also ask your agent to point out other details, such as musty odors and temperature details. Another thing you should do ahead of time is create a house hunting checklist so you don’t miss out on anything important in the process.
The Bottom Line
Buying a home remotely works well for out-of-state real estate investors, those who are buying a second home, and anyone buying a home on behalf of a loved one, such as in the case of senior relocation. Plus, when the home-buying process is over and ready to move in, you can hire organizing services and relocation specialists to help make your move go as smoothly as possible. Overall, finding the right real estate agent and learning all you can about the home-buying process is key to a successful deal.
About the Author
Scott Russell is the owner and broker-in-charge of Freestone Properties located in Asheville, NC. Freestone Properties has the ability to help you buy a beautiful mountain home in Asheville or Black Mountain remotely, so contact us today!