SEATTLE – June 30, 2017 – The number of buyers making offers sight unseen – meaning they haven’t physically visited the property – is on the rise, according to a survey of recent home buyers conducted by real estate brokerage Redfin.
Thirty-three percent of respondents in 11 major markets say they made an offer on at least one house sight unseen. These types of offers are more common when working with foreign buyers and in markets where homes are selling quickly, real estate professionals say.
For many buyers, advanced technology has made a physical in-home visit less necessary since they can have many of their questions answered virtually. An increasing use of 3-D photos, video tours and virtual reality give some buyers enough confidence to purchase a home without an in-person showing. According to The Wall Street Journal, some real estate pros are conducting property walkthroughs with long-distance buyers remotely via FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp. And some agents are working with technology companies to create 3-D photo and video tours within the virtual reality space to make long-distance buyers feel like they’re at the property in person.
Homebuyer Angelo Smyrnios of Littleton, Colo., recently purchased a home in Lighthouse Point, Fla., for $1.65 million without ever stepping foot inside. Smyrnios’ agents, Lisa and John Wilson of Douglas Elliman Boca Raton, gave him and his wife a 45-minute tour of the property using FaceTime while walking through the home and highlighting its features. The agents then FaceTimed their clients while riding on a motorbike so they could get a view of the surrounding neighborhood.
Real estate companies are also seeing more home buying capabilities with virtual reality. About 10 percent of Sotheby’s International Realty’s listings now have 3-D photo tours in which clients can view 3-D property pictures on a screen or while wearing VR headsets. Within five years, the company expects to have viewing areas in every office, says John Passerini, global vice president of interactive marketing.
Tech startup VirtualAPT offers a robot that can film virtual tours in 3-D. The robot records a real estate professional guiding a tour of the property and then produce a video within 15 minutes. VirtualAPT CEO Bryan Colin says the goal of these tours is to help faraway buyers see the property themselves and get a full tour virtually.
Source: “Buying a Home Sight Unseen Is Easier Than Ever – and More Common,” The Wall Street Journal (June 22, 2017)
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