Making an offer without see the property

14 Replies

I know a lot of you veteran investors have been doing it for a while but just want your 2cents on making an offer without actually walking though the property first. 

The background to my question come from the fact that in my area there is a property that I would like to make an off but on the MLS and other portals the photos of the property are limited and according to the realtor it will only be shown after an offer is accepted.

Wonder, what methods do you’ll use to evaluate an offer on a virtually unseen property? Also what what precautions should be taken?

Thank you in advance!

This is more common that many people realize. In Florida, the FR/BAR As-Is contract in particular gives the buyer a very strong right to cancel during the inspection period ("At buyer's sole discretion"). The only risk is to your escrow deposit.

I typically advise buyers to make a relatively small earnest money deposit at acceptance, and then add an additional deposit after inspections are complete. 

For example, say you were going to offer to put down $10k as an escrow deposit. Your contract might say $1,000 deposit is due within three days of contract execution (effective date), you get a 10-day inspection period, and then the other $9k is due within 15 days of the effective date.

Insect anything and everything you want during your inspection period, and you have the right to cancel and retain your deposit if you find anything you don't like.

I have done this a few times @Gilbert Lugo and closed on all 3. As a matter of fact 1 property (a duplex) I've owned for a couple years and never been it - great property manager. The biggest thing you want to consider when making a no look offer is your offer contigencies. Whether it be financing, home inspection, partner acceptance, father approval, etc, you want to ensure you have an out to retain your EMD.

@Gilbert Lugo

I would not recommend a newer investors to purchase a home sight unseen. First thing to do is try to offer with a very short inspection contingency window, as you still have an out if the home's condition is significantly different from pictures and or what you expcted.  If they accept then really it is not an issue that you cannot see it.  If they are selling AS-IS then that is a going to be much harder. I know a number of investors that purchase sight unseen including ourselves but we can take a loss because we have the volume to purchase many more so the numbers are in our favor.  For a newer investor if you are one, avoiding a loss on the very first deal is crucial.  Now if you can walk the grounds of the house, and see inside the windows with no tenants available then that is a different story.  Speaking candidly if there are no tenants and it says no trespassing you should be able to "snoop" around a little.  Now some people will say that is illegal but I can tell you no cop is going to write you a citation if you are merely closely observing without touching.  In general, we like to neighbor knock and ask the neighbors if they know anything about the house next door.  Based off how long the home has been vacant, the exterior condition of the home we will make assumptions.  If I see a bad roof, I am assuming water damage, and if the neighbors tell me it has been vacant for a full winter, then in my market I assume 3k or more from plumbing issues.  If the home is newer, and utilities are on I can assume a more cosmetic rehab, but in order to make these assumptions you have to have experience.  The only other way would be to assume the worst of everything but problem is in this market for an on market offer, I don't think your offer would get accepted.  

@Gilbert Lugo

I would not recommend a newer investors to purchase a home sight unseen. First thing to do is try to offer with a very short inspection contingency window, as you still have an out if the home's condition is significantly different from pictures and or what you expcted.  If they accept then really it is not an issue that you cannot see it.  If they are selling AS-IS then that is a going to be much harder. I know a number of investors that purchase sight unseen including ourselves but we can take a loss because we have the volume to purchase many more so the numbers are in our favor.  For a newer investor if you are one, avoiding a loss on the very first deal is crucial.  Now if you can walk the grounds of the house, and see inside the windows with no tenants available then that is a different story.  Speaking candidly if there are no tenants and it says no trespassing you should be able to "snoop" around a little.  Now some people will say that is illegal but I can tell you no cop is going to write you a citation if you are merely closely observing without touching.  In general, we like to neighbor knock and ask the neighbors if they know anything about the house next door.  Based off how long the home has been vacant, the exterior condition of the home we will make assumptions.  If I see a bad roof, I am assuming water damage, and if the neighbors tell me it has been vacant for a full winter, then in my market I assume 3k or more from plumbing issues.  If the home is newer, and utilities are on I can assume a more cosmetic rehab, but in order to make these assumptions you have to have experience.  The only other way would be to assume the worst of everything but problem is in this market for an on market offer, I don't think your offer would get accepted.  

The nice thing about these listings that are make an offer prior to seeing, is that only investors will be the ones offering  Anyone looking to actually live there wont bother.

If you can see it after the offer is accepted, no problem 

Make sure you make it contingent upon interior viewing and home inspection. This way you have your money back if it doesn't turn out to be what you expected. 

For rental properties this is not uncommon. You make an offer conditional on inspection. Then the owner arranges a time with the tenants. You or your home inspector or engineer does the inspection. If you find anything bad, you can cancel the deal or negotiate a lower price, or make the sale conditional on the seller fixing the deficiencies.

The point is the seller and seller's agent does not want to go to the trouble of disturbing the tenants and arranging an inspection unless they know you are a serious buyer.


Thank you for your input. I am a New inverster. It’s been a bit difficult to land my first one so thought of doing this. The property is nearby so driving by and looking around sounds like a good idea. Both sides of the property(duplex) are rented. 

Originally posted by @Casity Kao :

@Gilbert Lugo

I would not recommend a newer investors to purchase a home sight unseen. First thing to do is try to offer with a very short inspection contingency window, as you still have an out if the home's condition is significantly different from pictures and or what you expcted.  If they accept then really it is not an issue that you cannot see it.  If they are selling AS-IS then that is a going to be much harder. I know a number of investors that purchase sight unseen including ourselves but we can take a loss because we have the volume to purchase many more so the numbers are in our favor.  For a newer investor if you are one, avoiding a loss on the very first deal is crucial.  Now if you can walk the grounds of the house, and see inside the windows with no tenants available then that is a different story.  Speaking candidly if there are no tenants and it says no trespassing you should be able to "snoop" around a little.  Now some people will say that is illegal but I can tell you no cop is going to write you a citation if you are merely closely observing without touching.  In general, we like to neighbor knock and ask the neighbors if they know anything about the house next door.  Based off how long the home has been vacant, the exterior condition of the home we will make assumptions.  If I see a bad roof, I am assuming water damage, and if the neighbors tell me it has been vacant for a full winter, then in my market I assume 3k or more from plumbing issues.  If the home is newer, and utilities are on I can assume a more cosmetic rehab, but in order to make these assumptions you have to have experience.  The only other way would be to assume the worst of everything but problem is in this market for an on market offer, I don't think your offer would get accepted.  

I’ve done this, from out of state too. The main key to this is have good reserves, have a agent or PM you trust and a good inspector

I personally never look at a house until I have an excepted offer.... it's a waste of time.  I look at the pics and try to guess at what I believe it will take to repair it (plus add a little) and then set a 7 day inspection period upon accepted offer.  This keeps me from wasting time with contractors and estimates and offers and driving all over town on properties that turn into a bidding war or just a seller testing the market.  Only look at pretty good deals and stop wasting time chasing listings that will never sell close to where you are willing to pay.  With an inspection contingency (which is pretty standard) you can then go with your contractor/inspector and do a thorough analysis of the property and know what you're getting.  If you see anything that exceeds your budget or comfort level rescind the offer and as long as you do it within your inspection period no harm done.

Sometimes making an offer before seeing the property is the only way to get a shot. As everyone is saying, get an inspection contingency and be there for it.

(More seasoned owners may not go to inspections or they may rely on PMs/brokers/etc for this — but as a very inexperienced person myself, I’ve decided I will be at every inspection until I’m very comfortable with the process. Besides, I’ve found I get more info from the inspector talking to me than the physical report!)

I also would not advise a new investor to offer to buy a property, sight unseen.  

That said, if you do, I suggest a contingency clause at says,

"This offer is subject to buyer completing all inspections and due diligence with all the results and findings to be satisfactory to the buyer."

That will cover everything.

Personally I wouldn't do it in FL unless it was a relatively newer construction. As a Realtor in Miami/Broward, it took me 6 months of searching the MLS to find a property that would fit my specs and be bank friendly as most of the properties I saw were misrepresented in pictures. If you ever need any help I would be happy to assist.


I’m in the west palm beach area and yes most of the ones I’ve seen look nothing like the pictures on the  MLS. 


Originally posted by @Samuel Johnson :

Personally I wouldn't do it in FL unless it was a relatively newer construction. As a Realtor in Miami/Broward, it took me 6 months of searching the MLS to find a property that would fit my specs and be bank friendly as most of the properties I saw were misrepresented in pictures. If you ever need any help I would be happy to assist.