Buying site unseen in texas

28 Replies

My wife and I are planning on buying a house in texas this year and we are currently active duty members in san diego, we plan to move once our contracts are up. Does anyone have any tips for buying sites unseen? Or maybe something you wish you had done differently before buying the property? We can't use the VA loan because we can't live in the house just yet.

Thank you!

I would try and find someone here thats respected and in the area that you're looking at and see if they would be willing to help you find a place, rather than just calling up realtors that are just looking for a commission.

@Michael fortier

We plan on buying a property in the Denton or Plano area, one that is preferably move in ready 

@Benjamin Timmins

That's a great idea, how would you go about finding that person? 

Well the short answer is to work with an agent you can trust. Whenever I work for out-of-town investors, I always make sure I take plenty of pics of the property inside and out. I also take pictures around the neighborhood so they'll get an idea of what the area looks like. I gather all the financial data available, arrange inspections, etc.

Not doing that can lead to disaster. I was recently approached for property management services by a California investor who bought a place here and trusted someone who, in my opinion, was not looking out for her. It was a condo that looked great in the listing, but when I went to look at the property, it was a nightmare. There had been an arson fire in a neighboring building and that building was a burned out hulk. The swimming pool was shut down by the health department. I would never had allowed her to buy that place if I had been her agent. Anyway I had to turn the job down.

I cannot stress enough as to what a bad idea this would be especially since you indicate that you will live in the property.  the house you live in is personal and no boots on the ground will be able to completely understand your mindset. Most major areas of Texas have +-$300 non stop flight from San Diego and if that amount effects your life than you should reconsider buying at this time. Please do not take this as mean as in my 25+ years on the business I have seen too much buyer's remorseful  as real estate pics on the Internet are taken to show the house at its best and not its worst

What is your plan as of now? Buy the home, rent it out until you can move here? Also are you looking through a realtor (MLS) or wholesaler etc? I am a realtor but also have investment properties. I know we look at a lot of (wholesale) houses where a rep has someone else on the other end of their line and use skype or something similar. As Fred mentioned, there needs to be a HIGH level of trust and knowledge for you to let someone do this for you. I also agree with Greg in that its best to see it yourself but honestly I am still seeing houses go in a day or two around here and all the wholesale deals are done on the spot so you could end up coming down for nothing(maybe plan a weekend here and look at a lot of homes at once?) I am from and live in the Denton area and my dad who is my partner in investments lives in Plano so if you have any specific questions as to the areas I'd be happy to try to answer them. I'm not soliciting your business but I could set you up on an auto email for houses in both areas that meet your requirements. That way you could at least see whats coming up and get any idea for the prices and areas that your looking and it would be a little easier to know what to expect.

We buy almost all of our flip houses through wholesalers but the catch is you have to close in a few days and its as-is. Every so often I find a steal on MLS but with the market the way it is they go fast so its hard to get them.

I live in Frisco which is close to Denton and Plano so let me know if you would like me to scout the area out for you and give you an analysis :) send me a text or message

Hey all. Eric from NYC here. I've been thinking about buying an out of state property for buy and hold. I don't know Texas very well, but I've read that the Dallas, Houston, and Austin rental markets are on fire right now, and still have reasonable purchase prices that mere mortals can afford (compared to where I live).

Are there reputable and successful turnkey companies, brokers, and/or property managers that anyone can recommend me in any of these markets?

@Fred Heller I'd love to pick your brain when you have a moment. I'd like to start speaking to some folks and running the numbers because at the rate I'm going here in NYC I'll never find a solid deal. Thanks!

I agree with @Greg H. .  My one caveat to that would be, if you are looking at the property you will purchase as an investment more than a personal residence.  i.e. Your plan is to live there for a year or so and then acquire another property and rent that one out.

I'm saying this even though I did buy a property sight unseen as a personal residence.  :)  It worked out for me, but I didn't have a lot of must haves for a residence.

But, whether you work with an investor who is trustworthy & knowledgeable to provide boots on the ground type of help or strictly work with an agent, you probably need to make your make & break list.  You said Denton or Plano, but those 2 locations couldn't be more different, so it leads me to believe you don't really know much about the area yet.  I could be wrong, but I'd spend some time defining what you are looking for, both in terms of the actual house and the neighborhood/community/sub-market it is located in.  That will make a huge difference in where to start looking.  Also, my experience is that, because the DFW area is so large, some realtors will try to cover the whole of the market, but the reality is that most agents are only experts on a fairly narrow group of sub- or micro-markets.

Just my 2 cents.

I'd also recommend visiting over a weekend and looking at prospective homes in person.   Whether you do that or not, I'd be happy to help, and could live stream property tours via Periscope if necessary.

I'm an agent and an investor, though my wholesale deals are pretty much restricted to Tarrant County.

@Fred Heller  

thats not a bad idea, we need to find someone who we can trust. The last thing we want is a fixer upper thats over our heads

@Kelly Courtney

yes that is exactly right Kelly, our plan right now is to have a property around the UNT area. We want to have it rented out until we finish our contract here in San Diego.

@David Ho

thank you David!

@Hattie Dizmond

Youre right we may need to narrow our search to a local agent who has been in the area for a while.

@Chris Soignier

Yes, my wife and I are looking all around Bigger Pockets. Soaking all the knowledge we can and finding who we can to help with this decision. REI is new to us but learning has been a great experience so far. We want to buy before so we can have a place when we get there, and having rental income now would be great to get our foot in the door for REI.

I agree with above, come for the weekend and look at neighborhoods. When I relocated to Dallas my wife and I came for a weekend and located 3 or 4 areas that we were interested in. Then we targeted it hard and found an agent. You may just want to rent for a year and get a feel for the whole metroplex. There are a lot of heavy traffic areas that you wont realize until you live here.

This is one of the few situations that I would say renting a property is the smart move vs. buying.  I'm big on buying, investing, etc...but in this particular situation I would say find a decent rental for a year, get your family moved, then go look to purchase when time is on your side.  It's just that the stakes are so high, it's not something you want to rush into...because extricating yourself from a possible mistake of that magnitude will be costly.  I would never trust someone else to pick a house for me to buy and live in.  It's not that I'm particular, but I've been around real estate long enough to know that there are MANY potential issues to consider.  It's one thing when you're running the numbers to purchase investment property that other people are going to live in, but completely different when you're the one who's going to be there day in and day out.  So unless you're willing to take a few trips, spend some time getting to know certain areas, and finding the home that works for you...I would advise to rent first.  (Not the advise you were asking for, but there you go.  Now I will wait to see if I get booted from BP.  ;)

@Greg H. and @Hattie Dizmond make some very good points.

Several thoughts:

  • When I moved to DFW I visited the area for four days looking for properties. My wife and I were not satisfied with what we found in that short time, so we rented a place for six months. This gave us time to look around the Metroplex and decide on where exactly we wanted to live. We then focused our search on particular neighborhoods.
  • Denton and Plano are distinctly different markets. As a Realtor with a focus on Collin County I would be comfortable showing you around Plano, but would look for a Realtor in Denton to refer you to (since Denton is outside my area of expertise). I recommend searching this site to find real estate agents who live in Denton and Plano. Then connect with them.
  • Don't believe the pictures you see on the real estate websites. You have to walk the property to see if it fits your needs. Also, you will never know if there is a problem with the property from the pictures - plumbing leaks, foundation issues, smells from animals or smoking, etc.

Paul, I would NOT recommend buying sight unseen in Texas.  The area you are considering is wonderful but, you need to be careful with Texas foundations because they can crack and need to be repaired at substantial cost.  You will almost surely save money but making a studied decision on any major purchase.  I have suggested people live in a rental for a couple of months to get a feel for an area.  

Paul,

First, thank you and to your wife for your service!

Second, PLEASE don't buy site unseen. There are so many things working against you when you're not on site that the odds of a successful deal are slim.

Bad realtor, great photographer, newbie flipper, drug dealer 2 houses down the block and countless other things can happen. Do you feel lucky? 

You will spend $40K-$50K easy in this transaction, another $300-$400 for a flight are worth it!

Also, If you guys still don't have a firm decision between UNT and UTD then you could end up with a house in Denton and school in Dallas. That is NOT a reasonable commute regardless of what google maps might say. 

Originally posted by @Eric A. :

Hey all. Eric from NYC here. I've been thinking about buying an out of state property for buy and hold. I don't know Texas very well, but I've read that the Dallas, Houston, and Austin rental markets are on fire right now, and still have reasonable purchase prices that mere mortals can afford (compared to where I live).

Are there reputable and successful turnkey companies, brokers, and/or property managers that anyone can recommend me in any of these markets?

Fred Heller I'd love to pick your brain when you have a moment. I'd like to start speaking to some folks and running the numbers because at the rate I'm going here in NYC I'll never find a solid deal. Thanks!

 Eric Being in the Dallas market for the last 6 years I disagree that this is a great time to purchase a house here.  The prices have gone up faster than the rents so the Rent Value ratio has fallen.  It is still a deal compared to NYC but I don't feel it is a good market currently for buy and hold.   I have seen a couple decent deals in Houston but that market is still a bit over heated too.  I think next year 2017 will be a good year to purchase in Houston because of the oil turn down.  That being said the only turn key provider that I am somewhat comfortable with does not currently have vendors in Texas because he has pulled out of the markets for the time being.

I would recommend if possible to try and take at-least one trip out to get a better idea of the area and neighborhood to lay eyes on it. If you can not do that due to time or commitment issues in the service, I would seek out an agent out there that can be your eyes and ears on the ground. With technology today they can do videos, face time, pictures etc... If you have trust in the person your doing business with you should be ok. With that being said, always trust but verify on anything.

People talk about good deals / bad deals... I do not think unless they know the parameters of what your end goal is to be able to say if something is good or bad. If you buy something now that is considered over inflated but planning to stay in it for 30 years, then I think we can all agree that anything you bought 30 years ago is worth more then today.

I grew up in Los Angeles and I wish I knew that, because everything around me is worth exponentially more now then it was.

I would first come up with what your goal is and then make you plan (strategy) fit you end goal. 

@Paul Padilla I think a lot depends on how you are buying. I wouldn't buy anything off the MLS site unseen. You have no idea how much renovation it will need to make it rent ready. If you have a relationship with a highly reputable turn key company that you can trust, you might be able to buy sight unseen but it all comes down to trust. You also want to know the class of neighborhood. That's the biggest mistake I see people make. They rely on what they're told and often times reality is very different. The best indicator of the neighborhood class is what the rents are in the area but the best thing to do is talk to an independent property manager to get their input. Then of course, make sure you get a property inspection.