Investing in a Property Sight Unseen: What You Need to Know - Article Banner


You Don’t Need to See It to Believe It!


Buying OnlineJust about everything is done online these days, right? You’re buying shoes. You’re buying groceries. You’re booking your next trip and you’re filling online shopping cart after online shopping cart with a collection of items that you’re planning to buy without ever seeing those items yourself. 

Would you do that with a property? 

Buying a property without seeing it might not seem the same as buying a sofa or a clock without seeing it, but the mechanics of the deal really aren’t too different. Sure, the investment is worth more and yes, there are extra logistics required in order to buy safely and effectively. 

But, it’s easier than ever to buy a piece of property without actually seeing it. Thanks to technology, great professional partnerships, and the recent trends that push us towards saving time and resources, we know that investing in a property sight unseen isn’t as crazy as it might have seemed a decade ago.

There’s No One Way to Invest 

Investing in real estate has always been a highly celebrated way to earn consistent income and establish wealth for the future. For years, we’ve been talking about the value of real estate investments. Not only does buying a property provide you with a tangible asset that is able to protect you from inflation and is also nearly guaranteed to increase in value over time, it also offers several tax benefits that can significantly reduce your overall financial burden. 

Additionally, real estate investments have proven to be one of the most reliable ways to make steady returns while safely protecting your capital; regardless of market conditions or economic trends. 

Almost nothing feels traditional anymore. And, what innovation and tech and artificial intelligence have shown us is that there’s no single way to do things. You can invest in a new market by showing up there. Or, you can invest in a new market by studying how things stand, talking to local experts, and taking video tours of prospective properties from hundreds or thousands of miles away. 

Investing in a property sight unseen may feel risky even to the most daring buyers. But, it’s really not any riskier than investing in a property that you’ve visited and walked through yourself. As long as you have access to the right technology and a team of local experts who can be your eyes and ears on the ground, you can invest from anywhere – in any market. 

Here’s what you need to know, and how to protect yourself.

Where It Begins: Establish Your Investment Goals


Investment GoalInvestment goals need to be clear.

These are the principles, objectives, and values that will drive every decision you make. It’s important to have them any time you invest, and it’s especially important to have an understanding of what you’re looking for and why you’re investing when you’re shopping for real estate from afar. 

Good investment goals will lead to a solid investment plan. 

Prepare to share your investment goals with the real estate agents, property managers, brokers, and other professionals who will be helping you. Understanding your investment goals allows us to help you navigate the local market and the investment process a lot better. We’ll provide the best information on what to buy, which neighborhoods are best, and what kind of rental values you can expect.

What You Cannot Do Without: Local Expertise and Support


Management Partner


Once you have those investment goals established, it’s time to look for a property management partner

You’ll need a real estate agent, too, and we’ll talk about that in a moment. 

But first: property manager. You’re buying this property as an investment, not a home you’re planning to live in. 

Find the best local property manager who aligns most closely with your values. You want someone who understands you. Who gets why you’re investing. 

As a remote real estate investor, you’ll need to stay connected to your management company and, once you buy it, your rental property. You’ll need access to an online portal where you can check in on how your property is performing physically and financially. When it comes to property management software, there is a vast array of options to choose from. It is crucial to partner with a company that has made substantial investments in advanced programs – and that is exactly what we offer. Our commitment to providing these exceptional tools sets us apart.

We’ve done that at Realty Solutions. Our technology allows us to closely monitor the rental market in central and south Jersey and the surrounding communities. With our experienced and proactive management team, you won’t have to worry about:

  • Long and expensive vacancies while you’re waiting for your property to rent.
  • Emergency maintenance issues that require an urgent response.
  • Overdue or unpaid rent and serving notices to delinquent residents.
  • Bad tenants leading to lease violations, criminal activity, or property damage.
  • Turnovers between tenants that require cleaning, repairs, and marketing.

A local property management partner will understand the requirements of your portfolio and develop a good relationship with your tenants. Talk to a few great property management companies and choose the one that you know is the best fit. 

Your Property Manager is Your Best Connection to the Local Market

You don’t have to be in New Jersey physically, but if you’re planning to invest here, you need to understand the property values, the available properties, and the tenant pool. You need to know the competition. This is part of the due diligence you would conduct on an investment property even in your own neighborhood. 

Whatever market you choose to pursue – spend some time researching the area and its economy. You’ll want to know if it’s a growing region for commercial activity and whether the population is expanding or shrinking. 

We’re evaluating rental values every day. We’re looking at the properties coming onto the market, we’re considering the updates and improvements that owners are making, and we’re measuring the competition all the time. 

Choosing a Local Real Estate Agent


Real Estate AgentWhere can you find a local real estate agent who can help you make a good choice and negotiate the best deal? 

If you have someone in mind already, make sure they’re experienced working with out-of-state investors. Make sure they’re willing to help you navigate this process and this purchase without actually seeing the property yourself, in person. 

If you’re not already working with someone and you aren’t sure who to choose, lean on a referral from your property manager or other local experts you may be talking to. When you can partner with a local agent who has an outstanding reputation for working with investors from outside the area, you’ll find you move through the process with more efficiency and less frustration. You want your real estate agent to understand your investment goals, your timeline, and your budget. 

Q: Do you really need an agent?
A: Yes

As an experienced real estate investor, you may feel comfortable buying a property without the support of a real estate agent. Maybe you’ve done it before, and done it successfully, saving yourself a few thousand dollars in commissions. But, you’re buying this property sight unseen, and so you really do need the expertise and the logistical support that a local agent can provide.

Your real estate agent can provide a set of eyes and a pair of hands. Your agent will be your boots on the ground.

A good agent will show you what’s available in the market according to your investment goals, budget, and plans. They will walk through the property multiple times, send you videos and photos, and give you the advice you need on making an offer and negotiating the terms. 

Tools and Technology


Tools and Technology


You’ll need to leverage the best technology you can access when you’re investing in a property sight unseen. Plan on video tours, video phone calls, and a secure way to swap data and messages back and forth. 

You’ll need to be comfortable with online payments, online communication, software systems, apps, and even artificial intelligence (A.I.) when you’re investing without seeing a property. Everything that you cannot do yourself will likely be done by your local experts and their trusted technology.

When you’re choosing a real estate agent and a property manager, make sure they have the technology that’s necessary to help you invest. You can attend a walk-through via FaceTime, for example. You can get a look at inspection reports and take a look at the neighborhood virtually.

Just about every good real estate and property management partner will have a portal to facilitate communication and the sharing of information. Here’s what we recommend remote investors look for when it comes to technology from your professional partners: 

  • An online platform, where you’ll have access to inspection reports and photos, send messages, review invoices, and make payments. 
  • The ability to review maintenance requests and invoices once you’re renting the property out and you have tenants in place. 
  • A mechanism to check for rent payments and deposits as you’re renting out your property with the help of a management company
  • Updated accounting statements and reports.

Talk about how communication will work and what you can expect in terms of tech tools and resources. 

Steps to Buying a New Jersey Investment Property Sight Unseen


Buy Property


Once you have your property manager and your real estate agent in place, you can ask for referrals when you need a lender, insurance agent, and other specialized help. These local experts will be prepared to help you buy your investment property without seeing it. With a whole team on the ground here in New Jersey, it will be like you’re here. Even if you’re not.

A good process will help you be more successful. You don’t want to feel untethered and constantly be putting out fires as they pop up. Instead, anticipate the potential problems and prepare to address the potential issues that may arise. It’s rare that the investment process goes perfectly smoothly when you are looking at investment properties in person. Of course there will be surprises and challenges along the way when you’re doing it remotely. 

Here are some quick steps you can follow to keep your investment process organized:


Tour the property virtually

Prepare for your tour, even if you’re not planning to come to New Jersey (or wherever you’re choosing to invest). With today’s video technology, you can see just about everything about a property without actually being there. Virtual tours are easy to record and share, and you can take your time looking at each frame and each element of the property that’s important to you. You can zoom in. You can zoom out. You can gather other people around you to hear additional opinions and thoughts. You don’t have a single shot to walk through the home and then try to remember everything later. Instead, you have a record of it.

Do a little extra digging once you’ve had your tour. The seller is going to make sure that you see only the best parts of the property. Don’t settle for the video tour only. Ask your real estate agent or another trusted professional partner to visit the property for a live showing. They can get you on a video chat, a FaceTime call, or some other video messaging platform so you can walk through the property with them. This will allow you to stop and focus on specific areas. You can step inside each closet and test every faucet, even if you’re not actually there. 


Invest in a complete property inspection

When the real estate market was at peak competitiveness, we saw a lot of buyers agreeing to purchase without an inspection. That’s a lot riskier than buying a property sight unseen. 

Don’t waive the inspection.  

You know that there are a multitude of benefits that come with a comprehensive property inspection. This is fundamental when you decide to purchase real estate that you have never seen and will potentially never visit. You’ll want to know about any potential problems, especially when we’re talking about an investment property that you’re required to keep habitable and safe

Home inspections are necessary before you buy, and they will save you money in the long term. They’ll also protect you against buying a property that won’t make a good rental. You can’t make money off a home with structural issues or mold. Don’t buy a condo or a house that is unsafe. Inspect for flooding and windproofing. Check the condition of the roof. How does the property withstand winters?

Review your inspection report carefully. Talk about it with your real estate agent and property manager. If the inspection unveils extensive damage, a price adjustment might be in order, or you may want to look elsewhere.


Make your offer

It’s time to do what you’d do while buying a property you’ve seen: make an offer. This should be the easy part. You’ve done the hard work. You are surrounded by people you trust. You’ve gathered all of the information you would have gathered if you were there in person, and you have also enlisted the help of a real estate agent and property manager. These local experts have provided their best advice. 

You can trust that you’ve identified a good investment property, and by the time you make an offer, negotiate a counteroffer, and decide whether to buy, you will know what you’re willing to do and not do in order to close the deal.  

In and around New Jersey, the real estate market remains strong. You’ll want to make a serious offer and be prepared to negotiate. As an investor from out of the area, you’ll likely be in constant touch with your real estate agent during this period. Don’t stress. Trust the process and your partners. 

You don’t have to be here for the closing, either. The closing can go forth without you there in person. In some cases, an e-closing can take place, through a secure online portal. It’s your choice to attend that, or you can leave it to your representatives.

Investing in properties sight unseen is not nearly as unusual as it once was. There are more and more investors doing business this way; it saves you time and money, and it opens up new markets that you might not have considered previously. As long as you are surrounded by smart people who are local to the area you’re investing and you have access to great technology, there’s no reason you cannot be successful in this endeavor. 

We are here to help you make some money. Whether you’re looking for a local property, interested in talking about the market, or looking for New Jersey property management partners you can trust, we’re your best resource. Please contact us at Realty Solutions if you want to talk about your investment goals and your next steps. We lease, manage, and maintain homes in Audubon, Collingswood, Cherry Hill, Haddon Heights, Blackwood, and the surrounding communities.