There's no shortage of data about how important digital communications have become in the home-buying process, but this metric was eye-popping: 19% of people who bought a home in the past year made a bid on a home before seeing it in person, according to new survey data from Redfin. The survey of more than 2,000 people who bought or sold a home in the past year was conducted by SurveyMonkey Audience and commissioned by Redfin. (Editor's note: This is an online poll and thus may be correct directionally but is not a scientifically valid sample or result).

Buyers of high-end homes were almost twice as likely to have made an offer on a home sight unseen. Among people who bought homes for more than $750,000, 39% made an offer without seeing a home in person.

Bidding sight unseen is likely so prevalent because of market forces like bidding wars and fast home-selling speeds, but technology plays a role too. Brokerage websites and apps like Redfin alert people about homes for sale as soon as they are listed and offer high-resolution and 3D photos and lots of information about the home and neighborhood to help people make informed decisions about a bid. Redfin agents use live or recorded video tours to help people from out of state, as well as locals, get a feel for homes they aren’t able to see in person.

Redfin agent Karla Kirkpatrick-Adams recently helped a client from Alaska purchase a condo in downtown Denver. He did not see the home in person until after closing.

“We did a video tour the day the condo hit the market. Given his location and the speed of the market in Denver, a sight-unseen offer was the only option to buy the home before it went under contract,” said Kirkpatrick-Adams. “This condo carried minimal risk because it is in a high-rise that has a solid association maintaining the building. Purchasing a single family home would carry more risk with the potential for latent defects or other issues.”

Read more on this in the Redfin blog.

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