Free to pursue whatever is best for our well-being, many of us find ourselves facing a long-distance move. Be it more time in nature, healthier food, or more activities for the family, perhaps buying a house in another state with more suitable healthcare, employment, and property costs is just the upgrade you need.
While digital closings, online mortgages, and remote home viewings are common occurrences now, there is no substitute for visiting the property or neighborhood yourself and having a trustworthy local agent to help you through the process. Online information can be missing some critical elements, and it might help to close the sale better when you meet with the homeowner.
Take the following important steps in this guide on how to buy a house in another state.
Plan A Visit
Before you hop on a plane or book a hotel, it’s a good idea to map out a detailed itinerary. Avoid taking on this homebuying endeavor sight unseen. Expect the research to take a couple of weeks.
Best not to rush and give yourself three to six months for the whole process of buying. Here are some tips to effectively narrow down your search and make the house hunting worth the trip:
- Can I buy a house in a different state? Yes, but don’t start entirely from scratch when buying a house out of state. If possible, conduct your home search someplace similar to where you live now or where you frequently visit. Even your hometown or college town is a consideration.
- How to find a house from another state? Experts recommend looking into an area with the same property age as your current home, the same demographics, and an identical climate as you have now. But it’s also highly possible to make it work in a completely new city.
- Another way to narrow down your options when you buy a house out of state is to list the cities or different neighborhoods within commuting distance from your future workplace.
- When you have made your choice, research as much as you can about the place – you can ask relatives and future co-workers about the community you’re interested in. If you know a real estate agent, ask them to introduce you to reputable agents in your target area.
- Explore websites like American FactFinder, Urban Institute, Nextdoor, Facebook Groups, Meetup, Google Maps, and the city’s website. These sites can give you an insight into what life is like in your dream neighborhood. The Chamber of Commerce there can also mail you a free information packet. Local news is a great resource as well.
- Some important things to ask residents about are crime rates, the weather, the best places to work, retail outlets, restaurants, parks, law enforcement agencies, hospitals, schools, community services, property taxes, and the costs of living. Essentially, everything you need to know to ensure a good quality of life.
- Now that you know what to expect and what to look for, it would be nice if you could stay in a hotel or Airbnb in the community for at least a week so you can experience it firsthand and have a better sense of life there.
- Immerse yourself in the community and visit the local grocery stores, pharmacies, and gyms upon arrival. Ride the public transportation and drive potential routes in a rented car.
- While the local realtor can give you a virtual tour of some potential homes in the neighborhood and nearby amenities beforehand, there is nothing like an in-person visit and walking through the home in another state personally.
Take Note Of The Cost Of Living
Of course, moving out of state is a financial decision, too. Maybe, you’re leaving a state where you cannot buy a home because of the sky-high purchase prices, or you have researched that buying a house or a vacation property out of state is a more profitable investment. Housing regulations, property taxes, monthly mortgage rates, mortgage interest rates, and closing costs are also factors to weigh.
As a home buyer, it’s not just the home purchase you have to prepare for. You also have to mull over the subsequent cost of living and your job security when you buy a house in another state.
In your planned visit, take note of transportation, entertainment, healthcare, groceries, and utility costs. You can also look this information up online.
A tax consultant or financial planner can help you fail-proof your move by mapping out your expected future earnings and how you can accommodate a possibly bigger household later on.
Hire A Real Estate Agent
To succeed in buying a house in a different state, get the support of a local real estate agent or a buyer’s agent. Some focus solely on working with out-of-state buyers. When you go straight to the listing agent of a home in another state, they may be only looking out for their and the seller’s interests.
How to find a realtor in another state? Before you purchase a home, ask for a referral from a dependable realtor in your current state. It is best when both are members of the National Association of Realtors.
Local realtors will be experts on the property types on the market and the community’s geography you are relocating to. They will have extensive experience with local permits, zoning regulations, and any other requirements for buying a house in another state. They will attend open houses on your behalf and assist you in the closing process, home inspection, and other negotiations. Most importantly, they will make the necessary introductions to mortgage lenders, real estate attorneys, home inspectors, and the title company.
Find Quality Long-Distance Moving Company
Transport your belongings safely and worry-free by finding a reputable and insured long-distance moving company. Find one on websites such as Consumer Reports, Yelp, and the US Department of Transportation.
Once you’ve made your selection, call or email them to discuss timelines and rate information.
A relocation specialist can also arrange moving and packing services for you.
Consider A Short-Term Rental While You Shop
When a one-week visit is not enough, consider staying in the location for three to six months more by staying in a short-term rental or lease. After all, buying a house is probably the largest purchase you’ll ever have to make, and moving to a new community is a life-changing decision you should not take lightly.
Show Up For Closing Date
While the local realtor is legally bound to represent your best interests and you can depend on them to negotiate on your behalf, final walkthroughs and signing closing documents are steps you must make in person. Experts recommend attending the home inspection too. The goal is to prevent being scammed and missing any defects in the house.
Aside from the above, you will have to take other steps to ensure success:
- Close on your existing home first.
- Sort out your credit score and get a loan with a national bank.
- Research the property restrictions and real estate laws in your new state.
Lastly, don’t forget to make a deposit and contact the utility companies at least two weeks before you move to make sure you have running water and electricity when you arrive.