Buying a Home in Another State
Buying a home can be stressful. Buying a home in another state can be even more stressful. You don't know the area, the neighborhoods, the schools, or the traffic patterns. There are so many unanswered questions! If you're very lucky, perhaps you know someone in the area who can help you answer some of these questions. If you don't, we have some tips for buying a home in another state.
Get Pre-Approved For A Home Loan
Don't wait to find a home before you start thinking about a home loan. Getting pre-approved for a loan
can cut time off of closing. It can also ensure that you're shopping for a home you can afford. You don't
want to waste time shopping for a home that's out of your price range. If you're moving for a new job,
your loan officer can help you gather the employment records you'll need.
Hire A Buyer's Agent
A buyer's agent represents the buyer's interest. That means they work for you and have a responsibility to represent your best interest, rather than that of the seller. A real estate agent who is familiar with the area can help answer your questions about traffic, neighborhoods, and schools. They understand subtle issues and will ask appropriate questions on your behalf.
Determine Your Timeline
If you're moving for a job, or another time-sensitive requirement, know your deadlines. Take into consideration the standard time to close a home loan, usually 30 to 45 days. Is school starting soon? Know when you need to move; then work backward to determine a timeline for finding a home, getting a mortgage in place, closing on the loan, and making arrangements for the move. This will help you and your agent have concrete goals in place for the various steps that need to be taken.
Be Clear About Your Needs
- Space – How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you require?
- Schools – Are the quality and proximity of schools important to you?
- Neighborhood – Privacy? Rural vs. urban setting? Animals? Child-friendly?
- Commute Time – Where will you be working? How far are you willing to drive?
- Acreage – Do you want more than just a home?
- Condition – Do you enjoy a home project or need a home that's move-in ready?
Be Clear About Your Wants
Wants are different than needs and represent areas where you can compromise. You may not want to compromise too much, but know where you can compromise and where you can't. These are a few things that may fall into the “want” category:
- Garage – Do you prefer attached or detached? One, two, or three cars?
- Basement – Love them? Hate them? Walk out or standard? Finished or unfinished?
- Neighborhood Amenities – Would you like a community with a pool or tennis court?
- Floor Plan – Open or otherwise? High Ceilings?
Know what you're looking for. Know where you're willing to bend and where you aren't. You'll help yourself, and your agent, locate the right home in much less time if you answer these questions upfront.
Make The Most Of Online Listings
Your agent will send you listings for homes that match your needs and wants. In this digital age, it is much easier than it used to be to get a feel for a home, from a distance, via online listings. Use the pictures and virtual tours to get a feel for each. Once you've narrowed your search down to two or three homes, you may want to visit in person to be sure you've made the right choice. Using online listings to do the majority of your searching can save you a great deal of time.
Get A Home Inspection
This is especially important if you're unable to tour the home in person. But, asking for a home inspection is a good idea for any home purchase. A home inspector can identify problems with all of the different systems of the house: plumbing, electrical, HVAC, included appliances, foundation or roofing problems, etc. You can make your offer on a house contingent upon the results of the home inspection. This can help you avoid a home that will require major repairs immediately after purchase.
Consider A Home Warranty
For additional peace of mind, you could consider a home warranty. A home warranty can be purchased by the buyer or the seller, and can be made a condition of the offer to purchase. Adding a home warranty to your purchase can give you the peace of mind you need when buying a home in another state.