@Thayne P. I would not consider buying properties long distance sight unseen. Exception I already have someone I know and trust to inspect for me. I have seen people be ripped off, Paying for a fully renovated prperty and now having nothing but a framed out shell.
Id only ever suggest buying class A in mint condition, and new construction site unseen. Buying class C site unseen is a recipe for disaster.
I bought a personal house sight unseen, but I knew about the neighborhood and housing prices in that specific area already. A realtor sent me videos of specific things I wanted to see inside the house. I happened to have driven by the house in person and remembered the outside and neighborhood when I was in the area earlier. Saw the inside a month after it closed.
If you do not know the area and prices for the area, and have no one you trust in that area, nope, wait until you can afford a trip to look at numerous properties.
I would not suggest buying a house sight unseen. Def, not a C class. You need someone to give you information that MLS pictures cannot. Why not have a buyers agent go and look at it for you take a video and send you a ton of pics? I do that for my international clients.
If the property is not on market and is off the market. You can find a licensed agent to go to the house and check it out and you pay them for their services.
You do need to be somewhat familiar with the area or have done a lot of research for this to work. You will also need to have a list of questions you want to be answered by this person.
As an additional comment, someone in my area keeps buying houses at an auction for more than one would pay for the house completely fixed up off the MSL. At these auctions one can not even see the inside of the house or do any inspection.
Dummies who do not know the local rural area prices think they are getting a deal. They aren't!
Before you buy, you need to look at a dozen houses in the area to get an idea of the prices/neighborhood/areas. Then go and look at the recently sold houses and their prices before buying. My area often lists houses way over what they will sell for because we have folks coming from NY area who think everything Is a bargain. That house I bought sight unseen? It was listed for $150k, I bought it at $102k.
We purchased an OOS property this past summer sight unseen. I would consider it B-.
We had some reputable boots on the ground and without that, not sure if we could have done so.
On the other hand, many investors in my network purchase in C areas sight unseen. Often.
I have bought DISASTER properties sight unseen and without a contractor to see them either. One time I bought a house with weed coming through the walls, my rehab guy thought I was bananas. I made a ton of money on it though!
Is it a good idea? Probably not for your first one
the unit numbers are important, but so is the location. You need to know where and what you're buying.
learn the market super well, fly out and look at a few, meet contractors/property managers in person
flying into town cuts into profits, but so does an awful deal just to save on a $500 plane ticket. Once you get a few under your belt you'll feel more confident to buy blind.
I've had multiple sellers who are motivated but too embarrassed to allow us access to the home because of the condition. I offer less than land value with the expectation that the house will need to be demolished and hope for the best. We've done a handful of deals like this and only once did we have to tear down the house, all the others we did very well on.
@Thayne P. A real estate transaction is the same here as it is on the moon...minus the no oxygen part...transactions are process oriented by design. If you are able to leverage technology, do a pre-inspection video walk-thru, and a property inspection, you're golden. The most challenging part is not closing the deal, it's the analysis, due diligence, and post-transaction stabilization. Renovating from afar can be very challenging...95% of our business is working with long-distance investors...I'd be glad to chat about what else you should be looking for in your market. Best of luck going forward.
I have many real estate investors as clients who buy properties sight unseen, here in Arkansas. Sometimes they connect with a local person to take pictures, etc. Sometimes, they just do all the research online (and hope for the best?).
I usually recommend getting someone local to at least put eyes on the property and take a picture or two. I have seen cases where a house shows up on the google earth pictures, only to find out later that the house is no longer there... razed by code enforcement.