Buy a house remotely in the Kootenays with pros by your side

Realtor® Sandy Smith explains how to buy a house long distance with confidence


Dreaming of a Rocky Mountain home? Realtor® Sandy Smith can help you buy affordable real estate in B.C. remotely


By Virginia Rasch


A one-storey tan and brown house with an attached garage has a well-maintained lawn and gardens with shrubs, trees and rocks.
Buying a home remotely is now common with the adoption of easy-to-use real estate technology. Photo courtesy Sandy Smith.

Buying a house sight unseen used to be rare but now it’s commonplace.


“I would say once in the last 21 years did I ever sell a house sight unseen, and now it has become normal,” said Sandy Smith, a seasoned Realtor® with over 20 years of experience in the real estate market in the Cranbrook, B.C. area.


“With COVID-19, people are realizing how important lifestyle is,” said Sandy. “Folks have discovered they can work from a home office so they can choose where they want to live.” And Sandy’s sales in the past year and a half have reflected that fact.


As the founder of Sandy Smith Personal Real Estate Corporation, she’s had a busy year and a half with the high demand for properties in the area. Her daughter, Justine MacDonald, is a licensed Realtor® and a partner in the well-known and very successful Cranbrook real estate business.


There are several reasons people buy homes virtually. The COVID-19 pandemic certainly increased the demand for remote buying. With the pandemic’s health and travel restrictions, people weren’t able to get out and look at houses in person.


But Sandy said there are many other reasons for buying real estate long distance.


“If properties are staying on the market no more than 24 or 48 hours in this hot market, how is someone going to get here from the Lower Mainland or the Okanagan to have an opportunity?” Sandy explained.


Some buyers are looking for a second home or a vacation home. They typically live in another city, province or country, which makes it more difficult to be there in person for every step of the purchase.


Sandy has also seen the demand for remote buying from parents wanting to buy a house for their child going to school, such as College of the Rockies in Cranbrook.


Other reasons for remote buying include people wanting investment property or those with last-minute job relocations.


At first blush, remote buying might seem intimidating. But armed with the right team of professionals and the right tools, it can be done with ease—which leads to the next topic of technology.



Technology tools make it easy to buy a house long distance


New technology has been a game changer in the real estate world, and that’s especially true for remote buying. Remote buying is easier today than ever before because of helpful technology like video tours, electronic signatures and listing portals.


Sandy specifically cited four examples of technology that she and Justine use to make purchasing real estate easier for buyers—no matter where they are.



Take a 3D virtual tour of the real estate property near Cranbrook British Columbia


Matterport is a three-dimensional camera system that creates a 3D virtual tour. The results are so realistic that out-of-town buyers feel they are actually walking through a property.


Matterport's virtual tours provide an immersive experience that is not possible with photos or 360 tours. And potential buyers can do their own walkthrough from anywhere at any time.


“With Matterport, we go and scan a property, and our camera can do floor plans from the scans and people can actually click through on little circles on the floor and walk through the house,” said Justine. “There really aren’t any hidden nooks and crannies anymore with this program.”


Viewers can explore the house from a variety of viewpoints, use an accurate measuring tool and get a feel for the space without having to travel. “Clients love it,” said Sandy.


“We’ve even had a buyer buy a house in the $900,000 range without even seeing it because they were so confident with the Matterport walk-through video that they were even measuring for their furniture before they moved in,” said Justine.



Sign up to get an alert for hot new real estate listings in the Kootenays


The Kootenay Association of Realtors uses another tech tool called Xposure. This fully mobile listing portal is especially useful for remote buyers in a hot market as it can be used for notifications and alerts as soon as listings are available.


The Sandy Smith Personal Real Estate Corporation uses Xposure for reverse prospecting so that potential home buyers are automatically notified of specific MLS listings in the Kootenays.


“We do reverse prospecting where if we have a buyer that says, for example, we’re looking for houses between $300,000 to $400,000, we set them up and as soon as a property hits the Kootenay MLS Xposure, that listing will automatically get sent to that prospective buyer,” said Sandy.



Real estate paperwork is a breeze with digital documents


Both Authentisign and Docusign are extremely helpful tools for remote real estate sales. These digital transaction platforms allow companies to go fully digital with quick, simple and secure eSignatures.


Real estate transactions involve many extremely important documents. These platforms let users send, sign and manage legal documents securely in the cloud. For example, DocuSign eSignature automatically generates and stores a complete, time-stamped history of every send, view, print, sign or decline action.