Making a long-distance move comes with challenges in any circumstances, let alone during a pandemic, when about 14 percent of Americans relocated to a different state, according to Move.org.
From hiring a real estate agent from afar to window-shopping online, here are some tips for house hunting out of state that will help you find your perfect new home.
FIND A LOCAL REAL ESTATE AGENT
Before you start swooning over photos of farmhouse kitchens or clawfoot bathtubs, you’ll want to connect with a real estate agent who knows the local market and can help you identify what you can get in your price range. After all, why waste time looking at houses online that you can’t afford or that don’t meet your needs?
Another reason to engage a local real estate agent: They can recommend reputable mortgage lenders that can help you get pre-approved for a home loan, which can save time in a competitive market.
GET ACQUAINTED WITH LOCAL HOUSING TRENDS
Learn the rules and procedures of the market you want to move to, since the homebuying process could be different from where you currently live. For example, homes may sell faster or properties may be more likely to sell above list price in the area you’re moving to.
Your real estate agent can help provide insights and insider advice you can’t find online, but you should still do your own research with resources like the U.S. Housing Market Conditions website, which tracks local housing market data.
WINDOW SHOP ONLINE – BUT KNOW THE LIMITATIONS
Once you’ve decided what you’re looking for, sign up to receive email alerts when new homes match your criteria on sites like Zillow, Trulia, Redfin or Realtor.com. Just be aware that the professionally shot photos you see online can hide flaws you’d be able to detect in person. Here are some tips that will help you make the most of a virtual house tour.
- VISIT THE NEW LOCATION IN PERSON
If you’re not familiar with the city or town you want to move to, consider taking a trip there so you can get a sense of it in person. Scout out prospective neighborhoods, visit shops and restaurants, and check out community events, such as farmers markets, so you can get a feel for the local vibe.
And while you’re there, ask your real estate agent to schedule showings back-to-back. Remember: Knowing what you want out of a house before you set foot inside will make the process more efficient.
- CONSIDER A SHORT-TERM RENTAL IF YOU CAN’T COMMIT
Even in a hot housing market, you still want to ensure you’re making the right financial choice. Don’t feel pressured to buy a house right away if you’re not ready; many people opt to rent in their desired location first. Finding a six-month rental, for instance, can give you extra time to familiarize yourself with the area before you commit to buying a home.