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Mistakes to avoid when buying a house remotely

Friday, June 19, 2020

2020 was supposed to be the year you’ll finally become a homeowner. You may have even started looking at Atlanta homes for sale already. With the COVID-19 crisis, however, it may seem like your dream will have to wait another year.

But why not consider buying your home remotely? With the help of the internet and telecommunications platforms, you can connect with sellers from anywhere in the state, despite the pandemic. If you choose to do so, however, be sure to avoid these mistakes:

Buying a house on your own

Technically speaking, you don’t need a real estate agent to buy homes for sale in Decatur, GA and other communities. However, purchasing real estate involves a complex process that most buyers aren’t equipped to handle. And with the current pandemic adding new challenges to the home-buying process, you need an experienced agent to guide you through this “new normal” we find ourselves in.

What you should do instead: Hire an agent, but make sure they have extensive experience in remote home sales. They should be digitally savvy and should have a solid grasp of online platforms, video conferencing tools, and the like. Additionally, they should have deep knowledge of the local market where you wish to buy a house.

Not vouching online listings

Online listing sites give you access to listings from anywhere in the state. So, if you’re looking for houses for sale in Atlanta, Georgia, you just have to input your desired neighborhood and you’ll instantly see hundreds of available properties. With real estate fraud on the rise, however, you should pay close attention to the properties you view online. Many unscrupulous people list properties they don’t own or manipulate photos to make a home more enticing than it truly is.

What you should do instead: First, make sure you visit only trustworthy property sites such as Compass.com, Zillow, or Realtor.com. As much as possible, start your search by looking at premium listings. Posters pay a fee for the added exposure, so these listings are less likely to be fraudulent.

Not being clear about the home you want

Do you have a concrete idea about what your perfect home looks like? If not, browsing listings online might feel like looking for the proverbial needle in a haystack. And while your realtor will strive to show you only the most viable properties, their recommendations will be more accurate if they know exactly what you’re looking for.

What you should do instead: Gather your family and ask them which home features are non-negotiables and which are nice-to-haves. If you’re using an online listing platform, use the search filter so you can narrow results to only those properties with the features you’re looking for.

Low-balling an offer

Don’t make too low an offer on a house you’re genuinely interested in. While sellers are usually willing to negotiate on cost, they do have a floor on the offer price. If your bid is below that, they won’t even consider your proposal. Keep this in mind when looking at homes for sale in Dekalb County, GA and other sought-after locales, where home prices tend to hold steady.

What you should do instead: Look at similar properties that were sold in the last few months and benchmark your offer against their asking price. Work closely with your real estate agent to come up with an accurate price and a winning bid.

Not asking about coronavirus clauses

Once a seller accepts your offer, you enter what’s called the escrow stage. In this phase, both parties must work to fulfill their end of the bargain so that the deal will go through. This includes finalizing your home loan, getting the home professionally inspected, and having the property title inspected. In light of the crisis, however, securing these services may prove difficult. Once you enter into escrow, however, you’re racing against time to finish all due diligence on your part—and you might pay a fine or lose any deposit you made if you don’t push through.

What you should do instead: You can protect yourself by asking to include a “coronavirus clause” in the agreement. In a nutshell, this contract provision protects you in case you have to delay or cancel the home purchase because of coronavirus-related issues (e.g., there are no available home inspectors or appraisers).

If you’ve made it all the way to the end, you’re probably in the market to buy a home in Georgia. Let Natalie Gregory & Co., the brokerage with some of the top real estate agents in Atlanta, be your guide. Call us at 404.550.5113 or send an email to natalie(dotted)gregory(at)compass(dotted)com.