AgentMarkets & Economy

How to help your clients buy a house — sight unseen

Low inventory in hot markets and ever improving tech are leading to remote buyers having the confidence to make bids on homes in distant places.
  • Buyers are buying homes sight-unseen in hot markets where they will miss out if they don't make an offer.
  • Out-of-town homebuyers are relying on their agents to show them the good and bad sides of their potential homes.
  • Listing agents should take remote buyers just as seriously as those closer to home.

Laurel Larsen rode her bike all over Berkeley, California, when she first arrived so she could scope out the popular East Bay area as a place to live. She was living in Virginia at the time and was due to start an assistant professor position at the University of California at Berkeley. Ann Plant Like many who househunt in Berkeley, the young buyer missed out on the first few homes she bid on before she arrived permanently. She began working with Ann Plant, owner/partner of Marvin Gardens Real Estate, a veteran agent in the market. The house she ended up buying came on the market when Larsen was out of town. It ticked a lot of her boxes -- it was close to the beloved supermarket chain, the Berkeley Bowl; it was a couple of miles from the university campus; other professors lived nearby; and it was a really convenient location. It also had a yard for a potential new dog. “Ann called it 'very vanilla' and said that there was nothing I needed to do with it right now -- i...