Should you buy property sight unseen?

Buyers skipping physical inspections in competitive property market.

Prospective home buyers are ditching physical inspections in favour of virtual tours in Brisbane’s competitive property market.

Research from the Real Estate Buyers Agents Association (REBAA) found 30% of buyers surveyed would risk buying without physically inspecting a property in person.

Ray White Paddington Real Estate Agent Judi O'Dea said “fear of missing out” drove buyers to skip open houses and auctions to beat the competition.

“Stock is tight at the moment and buyers will do whatever they need to do to secure property,” Ms O’Dea said.

"I had a situation where I sold a house to a gentleman and at the end of everything he said, 'my wife hasn't seen the house, can she look through on Wednesday?'”

“I nearly dropped the phone, but I knew they were looking and were desperate.

REBAA president Cate Bakos said buying a property sight unseen was risky.

“It’s alarming to think that people are basing the biggest financial investment decision they’re likely to make in a lifetime on a video and a few photographs that may or may not be showcasing the property’s flaws,” Ms Bakos said.

“While new technologies have made it easier for home buyers and investors to assess property, it’s risky business to invest based on technology alone.”

Ms O’Dea said physically inspecting a property was an important part of the buying process.

"We still need physical inspections because you can never really understand the absolute dimensions and the feel of the house unless you walk through it,” she said.

"Photos and videos are an important starting point but, to me, you need at least one party to physically be there.”

Ms Bakos said myriad aspects of a property may not be captured by photos and videos. 

“It might look good in the video and photographs but there may be a number of serious flaws that aren’t showcased by the selling agency,” Ms Bakos said.

“These can include light, aspect, structural and building defects, room size, low ceilings and doorways and low-quality renovations that photograph well.”

Ms O’Dea said buyers who couldn’t visit a property could enlist a buyer’s agent to inspect the property on their behalf.

“A good buyer's agent is advisable because they are a third party there to protect buyers,” she said.

“I would highly recommend engaging a buyer's agent and I find that a lot of more people are turning to them.”

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The information in this article has been prepared for general information purposes only and not as specific advice to any particular person. Any advice contained in the document is general advice and does not take into account any person's particular investment objectives, financial situation or needs. Before acting on anything based on this advice you should consider its appropriateness to you, having regard to your objectives, financial situations and needs.