Moving to another part of the country can be an exciting adventure! That doesn’t mean it’s easy. To be sure, a move to an unfamiliar area can feel daunting. Fortunately, there are many excellent ways to leverage technology to your advantage!
Early Research = Less Stress
Start learning about your new location as soon as possible, well ahead of your move:
- Subscribe to and read any local publications you can find. Most newspapers can be accessed online and may not require a subscription. Read a wide variety of stories, including community events, new business openings (or closings), crime reports, and more.
- Look for local groups or pages on social media platforms. The participants may be an excellent resource for answering questions about living locally.
- Understand how schools can impact property values. Visit local school district websites and look up their rankings on a state level. The site Greatschools.org is one excellent tool for researching schools.
- Use your network. If you have family and friends in the area, tap them for information on good neighborhoods and schools, places to avoid, and other recommendations.
Make Friends with Google Maps
It’s never been so easy to experience new communities from far away. With Google Maps, you can zoom in on specific towns, neighborhoods, or streets.
Switch to satellite view (lower-left corner) to see if open spaces are filled with trees, grass, or a parking lot.
Use street view (the small yellow man icon in the lower right corner) to take a virtual stroll around potential neighborhoods.
Select a Lender and Get Pre-Approved for a Loan
Before you start looking for a home to buy, it’s essential to know your budget and shop around for a loan. Securing pre-approval with a mortgage lender will put you on equal footing with local buyers.
Securing a mortgage for an out of state property can present additional challenges, so start pulling together all the information you will need in advance.
It may help simplify things if you select a lender that operates in both states—your current home and where you plan to move—since they will be aware of any differences or peculiarities in rules between the two locations.
Find a Top-Notch Real Estate Agent
If you are moving to a new state and want to buy a house before you arrive, you will need expert assistance to find precisely what you want and obtain superior client services.
One of the best ways to identify a qualified buyer’s representative is via our Find a Buyer’s Rep directory, which only includes agents who have earned the Accredited Buyer’s Representative (ABR®) designation.
Once you’ve identified several potential candidates, do additional background research, then introduce yourself and request a phone interview.
To help you find that perfect home, your buyer’s agent will want to know more about your needs and desires. Understand that your agent will not be able to make specific neighborhood recommendations or discuss topics like schools and crime since this could be viewed as discriminatory behavior under the Fair Housing Act.
They may, however, want to discuss other essential topics in your initial phone consultation, like how they will support you in your search and current real estate market conditions.
With your buyer’s agent’s assistance, you should be able to develop a shortlist of potential properties from the comfort of your current home. Once you’ve narrowed your options, hopefully, you’ll be able to arrange a trip and tour these homes in person.
However, if that’s not possible, virtual home tours are an increasingly viable option. Real estate professionals are quickly adopting new technology that helps them comply with a different set of standards and customer expectations, as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, some buyers have purchased homes without ever setting foot in them until the transaction closes!
The All-Important Home Inspection
If at all possible, attend the home inspection in person. That way, it will be easy to ask questions and get immediate feedback about the inspector’s findings. If that’s not an option, see if a family member can go in your place and ask your buyer’s agent about looping you in via video call.
Once the inspector’s report has been submitted, talk to your agent about any repair requests or other issues to raise with the sellers. Your agent can give you the best advice about how to proceed.
Completing Your Purchase
Ask your real estate agent about reliable title companies that have offices in your new state, as well as near your current location. This may make it easier (and faster) to sign papers, drop off checks, and keep things moving along smoothly.
That said, real estate settlement services have also quickly adapted to social distancing requirements, making greater use of electronic signatures on documents and offering new options for remote and virtual closings.
Long-distance moves can also be expensive. If you are moving for work, ask if your company will cover any moving expenses. Also, talk to your tax attorney or accountant about eligible tax deductions associated with your move and be sure to save those receipts.