We almost sold a property to buyer who said, literally, "We we're told in a class that if the numbers work and it looks okay, to just buy it." The buyer lived in another state. I didn't get the chance, but I was going to advise them to get their money back for the class.
Honestly, there are some instances when you don't need to see a property in order to buy it. For example, if, to the best of your ability, you can justify the income/expense information and it was prepared by a respected, professional management firm, then you’re off to a good start. If you've seen additional pictures and an inspection comes back with no major concerns, then sure, you'll most likely be okay to buy sight unseen. However, take a risk with a property that has some maintenance issues in a questionable sub-market, and you'll most likely come out on the other side not looking so good.
Sounds simple, doesn't it? You'd be surprised.
One of the first questions we ask out-of-state buyers is: "When does your flight get in?" If they respond with something like "Well, I'm not sure I'll be making it to town," their ranking on our Quality Buyer Barometer automatically drops a couple points.
It's not simply about seeing the property. It's also about making a serious commitment to owning property. As agents (and as sellers), the level of seriousness a potential buyer demonstrates matters tremendously. Sellers don't like to deal with people just "playing real estate investor" with their property. If they're serious about selling, they want to work with people serious about buying. Think about that.
One last point: Every out-of-state buyer we've worked with in the last six months that has come here to visit the area and see property, has invested. Those who simply call a lot and don't visit haven't spent a dime on property. What's that tell you?
There comes a time, if you’re serious about investing in real estate, when you just need to pull the trigger. Look folks, few properties are perfect. In fact, no property is perfect. Being a landlord means spending money on property. Eventually, if you make enough mistakes, one day you’ll wake up rich.
footnote: The property in the picture above was sold to an out of town buyer who came here twice. Once to see the area and narrow down some neighborhoods and the second time to close on this quadraplex.