1 in 3 DC-area homebuyers made sight-unseen offer last year

WASHINGTON — Last year, 32 percent of people who bought a home in the Washington area say they made an offer without first seeing the property in person, according to real estate firm Redfin.

Nationwide, the average sight-unseen offer was 35 percent.

Young buyers were even more likely to make an offer sight-unseen, with 45 percent of millennials making the blind leap.

Redfin said that likely reflects millennials’ comfort in relying on information they find online about homes for sale, neighborhoods they might not have visited in person and the homebuying process in general.

Buyers are feeling the pressure in a highly competitive housing market to get their offer to sellers first, but sight-unseen offers may be shortsighted.

“The technology available to assist homebuyers in their search is stronger than ever, but nothing can truly replace stepping inside the home in person,” said Steve Centrella, a Redfin agent in Washington, D.C.

In the nation’s hottest market, the urgency to make an offer before making an appointment to see the property is even higher.

In Los Angeles, 57 percent of successful buyers made an offer on a home they did not see in person. In San Diego, it was 46 percent. In San Francisco, where the median price of a home now tops $1 million, 44 percent of buyers made their initial offer sight-unseen.

Baltimore was also one of the 14 cities in the Redfin survey, and 28 percent of successful buyers in Baltimore made their initial offer sight-unseen.

Redfin’s survey, conducted in November and December 2017, included about 1,500 people who purchased a home in the previous 12 months.

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Jeff Clabaugh

Jeff Clabaugh has spent 20 years covering the Washington region's economy and financial markets for WTOP as part of a partnership with the Washington Business Journal, and officially joined the WTOP newsroom staff in January 2016.

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