Between Covid and all the people relocating to the Austin area we are seeing an increase in offers on our listings from buyers who are making offers sight unseen. First off let me explain when we say sight unseen that means the buyer has not seen the home in person.

Whenever we have an offer on a home from buyers where all the decision makers have not seen the home in person our clients ask me what they should do. Sellers are always worried a buyer will make an offer sight unseen and then back out prior to closing.

When we are giving advice about sight unseen offers there isn’t a simple, one size fits all answer and here are some of the things we talk about with our clients to help make a great decision.

Is Anyone Else Interested…At That Price?

In my experience there is more risk with accepting an offer whenever all the decision makers have not seen the home in person. If I am making a financial decision for myself and I have to accept additional risk I want to be compensated for that risk.

If you have 2 similar offers for your home and one of them is sight unseen it wouldn’t be compelling enough for me to accept the sight unseen offer. If the sight unseen offer was significantly better it would be worth considering. Even at that point before accepting a sight unseen offer, we would recommend reaching out to the other offer and see if they would increase their price.

How Long Has Your Home Been On The Market?

You will likely have the greatest number of showings the first 4-5 days your home is on the market. If your home comes on the market on Friday morning and you get an offer sight unseen before anyone else has had a showing it may be too soon to accept that offer. What you absolutely don’t want to do is go under contract with a sight unseen buyer on Friday, stop showing your home, and then have the buyer come to town on Monday and cancel the contract after seeing the house.

In many cases our clients have to lean on our experience in the market to estimate the demand of the home. Often, we advise our clients not to accept that offer because we anticipate we will have additional interest once other buyers have seen the home.

Of course, if your home has been on the market for several weeks without an offer that would be a different story and it might be worth taking that risk.

Why Is The Buyer Interested In Your House Or Neighborhood?

Does the buyer have family or friends living in your neighborhood? Have they seen your floor plan before and they know it’s perfect for their family?

We sold a home sight unseen to a couple relocating from Florida. They had kids and grandkids living in the same neighborhood and the kids came to our open house.

In that situation it was more of a sure thing so it is important to know why the buyer is interested in the home before making a decision about a sight unseen offer.

Have We Or The Buyer’s Agent Done A Virtual Walk-Through With The Buyer?

Whenever we receive an offer sight unseen we want to reach out to the buyer or buyer’s agent and find out if the buyer has done a virtual walk-through. Although part of our marketing is doing a 3-D tour where a buyer can do a virtual walk through on their own many times they don’t notice the blemishes in a home as they do when their agent does a virtual showing for them.

We have closed many successful sales where either ourselves or the buyer’s agent has done a virtual walk through with the buyer. It makes me feel a little more comfortable when a buyer has had the chance to see more details and ask questions about aspects of the home that would be a deal breaker.

Will The Buyer Be Making A Visit During The Option Period Or Before Closing?

Something you always have to keep in mind is the standard Texas real estate contracts are very buyer friendly. Most contracts come with an option period where a buyer can do their due diligence and terminate a contract.

Whenever we receive a sight unseen offer, we always ask when the buyer will come to see the house in person. If a buyer is coming to town in a few days you may be more likely to move forward with a contract. Although you still run the risk of a buyer terminating the contract at least you can go back on the market quickly and get another contract. Buyers who say they will only be showing up for closing are more concerning because they will show up for a final walk through and may want to terminate the contract the day before closing and you will have lost out on valuable time off the market. In this case although you may be entitled to the earnest money, at the end of the day the goal is to sell the house not to get the buyer’s earnest money.

Keep in mind…almost every time a buyer has told us they are buying sight unseen and won’t be coming to town to see the house in person before closing they still do.

How Much Option Money And Earnest Money Will You Get?

In my opinion the most important way a buyer demonstrates how likely they are to close on your home is the amount of option money and to some extent earnest money.

Option money is money you as the seller keeps even if the buyer terminates the contract. If the buyer only offers $100 option money you know they don’t have much skin in the game. In my experience that buyer may be making offers on several properties and then when they visit the area in person, they will decide which home they want to buy. You don’t want to go under contract with a buyer with this strategy and a higher amount of option money will help deter someone from doing this to you.

Whether a buyer has seen your home or is making an offer sight unseen there are many aspects of the contract you should consider before accepting, rejecting or making a counteroffer. Today, the number of sight unseen offers we are receiving makes the real estate business more challenging than ever. When you are selling your home in today’s market, it is important you are working with a broker with experience to help you analyze any offer to make the best decision for your situation. Whenever you are ready to talk about your home call us at 512-791-7473 .

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