Published on June 2, 2021

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Photography by Ocean Whisper/Getty Images

We’ve all heard stories of love at first sight—and no, we’re not talking about the human type. We mean the kind where someone walks through the front door of a house that’s for sale and they know this is home. But is it possible to get that same butterflies-in-your-stomach feeling without actually seeing the place? Nearly half of home buyers seem to be convinced that it is. According to a recent Homes.com survey that polled 1,500 respondents, 42 percent said they would buy or consider buying a home without so much as stepping foot on the property before signing the paperwork. 

It’s a risky move for sure—you won’t be able to tell if the foundation is cracking or the living room smells like smoke just from listing photos—but if there’s one thing we have learned from people who’ve taken a leap of faith in the past, buying a home sight unseen doesn’t have to mean going in blind. A three-dimensional walk-through will only get you so far. Here are some additional ways to ensure you’ll love your space IRL after closing.

Pick an O.G. Real-Estate Agent

When Robert Green and Elizabeth Wilson moved from New York City to Colorado, they opted to do the whole home buying process virtually, so they enlisted a real-estate agent who not only had good online reviews but lived in the area for the majority of their life—someone who knew the neighborhoods and market like the back of their hand.

Make Google Street View Your BFF

“The lenses that photographers use make everything seem a lot bigger than reality,” cautions Green. This simple tool will allow you to feel out the scale and catch any front yard red flags.

Buffer Yourself With Paperwork 

Homes.com suggests getting appraisal protection, a warranty, and an inspection contingency. The latter is especially important, as it gives you an out if you discover a substantial problem when you move in. (Psst: If you do have to tackle some renovations, HomeAdvisor has a directory of professionals, from electricians to cabinetmakers.) Buying a home sight unseen can be smooth sailing if you play it smart. 

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