Buying Real Estate Sight Unseen

The world is getting smaller and technology is getting better. It is no surprise then that the Silicon Valley real estate market has seen an increase in the number of people who are buying homes without personally visiting the properties. There are two main reasons for this phenomenon. First, the heated pace of the market makes it impractical for out-of-state, or out-of-country, Buyers to personally tour every property. Second, narrated video tours, three-dimensional floorplans, and extensive online information regarding the local cities and neighborhoods provide Buyers with a lot of powerful tools for understanding the appeal of homes despite the inability to see them in person.

Silicon Valley Real Estate Market 

Generally, the best way to market homes of broad appeal in Silicon Valley is to price them attractively and advertise them aggressively across local, regional, and international markets. This brings in the maximum number of Buyers and requires them to compete. On the other hand, homes that are of more narrow appeal, whether due to style, floorplan, or price point, may sit on the market longer. Therefore, unless an interested Buyer prefers homes that linger on the market for a while, it will behoove the Buyer to act expeditiously.

However, even Buyers who would be willing to hop on a plane to see a property must realize that there is no way to guarantee they will win the bidding war. Once the bidding war starts, a competing Buyer may get caught up in the excitement and agree to pay too much. Thus, the Buyer’s best option may be to act remotely.

Utilizing Technology 

Fortunately, there are a number of ways Buyers can investigate properties online. The days of antiquated “virtual tours” that use still pictures set to music will soon be behind us. To make a listing competitive, it needs:

• A fully-narrated video with a host to point out some of the easily overlooked features and to explain the home’s location, as well as its layout;

• A 3-D tour that website visitors can navigate from room to room; and

• Videos explaining surrounding cities and neighborhoods, either embedded in the home’s video, located separately on the same website, or both (when embedding neighborhood features in the home’s video, special care should be given to include footage of features near the home, such as parks, trails, shopping centers, and restaurants, to help Buyers envision themselves living in the property).

Not only do these enhanced marketing techniques comfort remote Buyers, but they also help local Buyers fall in love with details that they may have missed or forgotten about. I have heard that Buyers typically refer to our home video tours multiple times, even while in the midst of a bidding war.

The DeLeon team spends up to $22,000 for a single property’s video, with most videos costing between $4,200 and $7,200 (per property!), which doesn’t even include what we paid the production company for taking off-site footage of our territory. Despite the expense, we have found that these videos (along with the separate self-directed 3-D tours) make a material impact on our clients’ final sales prices. Some of our more sentimental Sellers and successful Buyers even use these videos as souvenirs of their homes. For a sample, check out any of the current DeLeon listings at