Buying A House Out Of State: Tips And Strategies
Andrew Dehan6 minute read
UPDATED: July 25, 2022
Buying a house that’s out of state can be tricky. Moving out of state on its own has plenty of planning and obstacles involved. When you add buying (and possibly selling) a home, things get complex.
Can You Buy A House Out Of State?
Yes, you can. It’s very common to buy a house out of state. Just because it’s common, however, doesn’t mean it’s easy. When compared to moving down the street, there are a few extra hurdles that make buying a house out of state harder. Fortunately, there are certain steps you can take to make the process easier.
How To Buy A House Out Of State
There are so many reasons people move out of state. You could be moving for a new job, to be closer to family or to experience a new place. Whatever your reason, the process of the move shouldn’t take your focus off this big life change you’re going through.
That’s where some knowledge and strategy upfront can make the whole transition easier for you. Before you start your home search, you should set yourself up for success with these tips.
Research The Area And Cost Of Living
When starting your out-of-state home buying process, you need to research where you’ll be living. Look at neighborhoods of the city. Research different suburban areas. Consider factors like school districts and look at crime rates. Research popular area businesses and cultural sites.
Try to get a sense of the towns or neighborhoods you’re interested in, their proximity to work and how they relate to surrounding areas in terms of income and amenities. Research the area’s cost of living to determine what’s a good fit for you.
A specific neighborhood may be very popular, causing a higher cost of living, but nearby towns and neighborhoods can be more affordable and still benefit from the proximity to the popular area.
Find A Local Real Estate Agent
Once your find an area or two that you like, it’s important to find a local REALTOR® or local real estate agent. An experienced agent will know the area, what’s trending and be able to connect you with a property that meets your needs.
You’ll want to search for a trusted real estate agent. Know that it’s normal to shop around for agents and it’s important to find one with experience working in the area you’re interested in. Your real estate agent needs to be someone you feel like you can trust. You should be able to communicate with them and feel your needs and desires are understood.
Your new real estate agent will keep an eye out for properties you may be interested in. They’ll send you new listings and be able to provide you with a virtual house tour. They’ll be keyed in to what’s happening in the local market and be able to strategize with you once it’s time to put an offer in.
Make Sure You Have Mortgage Preapproval
Finding a local real estate agent is important, but it’s even more important to have your finances in order. Before you do any serious shopping, you need to get preapproved for a mortgage. For a mortgage preapproval, a mortgage lender will examine your finances and credit report to determine how much they’re willing to lend to you and on what rate and terms.
Before you pick out your new house, you should have a solid idea of what you can afford. Factor in costs like a down payment and closing costs. While a mortgage lender will be able to walk you through the process, it’s important to know your finances independently to make a decision that’s right for you.
Create A Move-In Checklist
When relocating out of state, you must keep a lot of things in order. Creating a move-in checklist will help you keep track of everything you need to make the move successful and make sure nothing falls through the cracks.
There’s an incredible value in feeling like you’ve done all you can ahead of the big move. Making a checklist and checking things off as you complete them helps you stay organized and adjust mentally for the big change.
Here are some suggestions of what you could include:
- Find a moving company or rent a moving truck
- Reserve a storage unit if you can’t move in right away
- Figure out temporary housing if necessary
- Make travel arrangements
- Pack and label moving boxes
- Transfer utilities
- Update address
- Set up mail forwarding
Plan A Visit
If you can swing it, visiting the area you’re planning to move to before you move is a best practice. Look at all the pictures and videos of the area that you want – nothing compares to the real thing. You can work with your real estate agent to setup multiple tours to make the most of your time while you’re in town.
While looking at properties, take a walk or drive around the neighborhood to get a feel for the area. There may be things you notice that you would never notice online. For instance, maybe you didn’t realize how close a house was to a city wastewater treatment plant until you smelled the air. Similarly, by exploring the area, you can understand how close fun or interesting things are to the property.
Consider Short-Term Rental Or Temporary Housing First
Buying a house out of state is hard, especially if it’s a big move many time zones away. It may be better for you to find a temporary rental to relocate to first so you can start your house hunt from your new place. By living in the area, you’ll get a much better idea what to expect out of the neighborhood or town you’re moving to.
Living in the area also can make communicating with your real estate agent and touring homes easier. If a home gets listed, you can schedule a tour that day and put a bid in as soon as you want to. In a competitive market, every second counts, so being local can help you jump on a listing as it hits the market.
Be Prepared For An Emergency
Buying a home out of state and relocating there can come with unexpected costs. Yes, you should plan for the costs of moving, such as hiring a moving company or truck and renting a storage unit. But you should also build a savings to cover costs you don’t expect. Even with every detail on your thorough checklist checked off, things can still come up.
Weather events, traffic accidents or transportation problems all can come with delays and extra costs. Depending on the specifics, you may need some extra cash for a hotel room or replace some of your items.
Another part of being prepared for an emergency is keeping essentials with you. Don’t pack away your prescriptions and send them off with the movers. If something happens, you may be separated from what you need to stay healthy. Likewise, keep all important documents (financials, birth certificates, etc.) on your person. You never know when you’ll need them and you want to know exactly where they are.
The Bottom Line: Make Buying A House Out Of State Easier For Yourself
Buying a house out of state is a big deal. Not only do you have a large life change with an out-of-state move, but you’re tying in one of the largest transactions you’ll likely make in your life. But that doesn’t mean you need to be fearful. Many people go through this change every month.
If you’re interested in purchasing an out-of-state home, consider these steps to know what to look for when you buy. Through research, planning and making a connection with a local real estate agent, you can make the move as smooth as possible. Rocket Homes® can help you find an agent who can help guide you through the process.
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