Beware the risks of website buys
REMOTE buying, according to Mike Greeff, chief executive at Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate, poses “huge dangers” for buyers as properties are sold “as is”, even with defects.
If buyers don’t see homes before signing purchase agreements, they can’t see defects which may be seen during a physical viewing.
“There might be issues with neighbours, or views impeded by neighbours, not be visible in photos or a virtual tour. There might vacant land nearby that could detract from your purchase.”
Pam Golding Properties’ Basil Moraitis agrees “buying sight unseen” poses risks as buyers are bound to the agreement, regardless of the suitability or actual condition of a property. They will have no remedy should defects exist.
“The agent has an obligation in terms of our Code of Conduct to alert the potential sight unseen buyer to the possible risks of proceeding in this manner.”
Adrian Goslett, regional director and chief executive of Re/max of Southern Africa, says: “I think of the time my wife and I booked a hotel room on the Miami beachfront. When we arrived, the ocean view described on the website was a glimpse of blue only seen if you stuck your head out of the window and turned it to see through trees that blocked the view. The online description also neglected to let us know our room was above a restaurant open until midnight.”
Goslett says he would not advise purchasing a property without viewing it in person. “Digital marketing tends to highlight the good features of a home and exclude its bad points and photos can be deceptive in terms of dimensions.”
Greeff says there is “nearly always a negotiation” in the sale of properties, and it is easier for buyers to do this face-to-face as opposed to via email or over the phone.
Seeff’s Charles Vining warns internet scams and fraud are a major concern, so dealing with reputable agencies is essential for remote buyers.