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For the same reasons that people are sometimes wary about buying things online (it’s hard to assess the quality and details, it might be the wrong fit, etc.), most homebuyers would be hesitant to buy a home sight unseen too. In fact, buying a home sight unseen has one downfall that even online shopping doesn’t: You can’t return a house after you’ve bought it!

There are times, however, where buying sight unseen might just make sense. Here’s what you need to know:

There are circumstances where it is actually logical. If you’re relocating from another region, you might not have the luxury of touring homes in person. And even if you do, in some hot markets, luxury homes sell within days of being listed, meaning you may not even have time to hop on a plane for a viewing. Likewise, if you’re interested in purchasing a luxury home pre-construction, there simply won’t be a way to view the home before buying… since it’s not even built yet!

Rely on friends or your agent. After you’ve checked out a listing online, call in friends that may live nearby or are familiar with the neighbourhood. They might be able to view the home on your behalf, or at least give you a rundown of the area and offer some insight into what it would be like to live there. You can also ask your agent if they would tour the home for you, or, if it’s a sizable distance away, if they know someone who would. It’s a good idea to ask if they will do a video tour, so you can see the unit in real-time.

Do some research on the developer. If you can’t be there to see the finishes and check the foundation yourself, find out who developed the property and see what their track record is. This is usually best practice when considering a pre-construction luxury home. Some provinces have databases where you can search developers and see how many complaints have been lodged against their developments.

Make an offer—with contingencies. When buying a home sight unseen, it’s crucial to add some contingencies to your offer, since there are limitations with being so far away, even with people viewing the home on your behalf. A good option is to add a home inspection contingency, signifying that if any major problems are found, you have a way out.

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