If you’re looking to purchase a new home that’s out of state but don’t have the time to travel there yourself, there are ways you can still have a smooth home buying experience.
Erin Vader, one of our copy editors here at Quicken Loans, lived in Virginia for three years before moving to Michigan. She bought her home in Michigan from out of state – before ever even seeing it in person.
How did she manage that? She relied on her mom to check out the house and location for her.
“If you don’t have someone you know in the state you want to move to, you should have someone that you really trust to provide you with information,” says Vader.
How to Find a Real Estate Agent out of State
In case you don’t have a loved one living in the state you want to move to, we talked to James Harris, a real estate mogul and star of Bravo’s TV show “Million Dollar Listing Los Angeles,” to help you successfully find a real estate agent out of state.
Harris advises that it’s best to contact a local broker in the area you’re looking and have them refer you to a top agent in that area.
“With so many real estate websites, many home buyers can now begin their search online,” says Harris. “However, it is best to always rely on the expertise that an agent can provide.”
When finding the right real estate agent for you, make sure that you not only get to know your agent, but that your agent gets to know you, too.
To find an agent who fits your needs in the area you want to live and make your home buying process less stressful, check out Rocket Homes.
Discover Everything About the House’s Area
Since Vader’s mom knew the neighborhood that she was moving to, she was able to ask for details about how walkable it was to other places and the overall vibe of the area.
To find out what the feeling of the out-of-state neighborhood is like, Harris recommends asking your agent.
“It is critical to work with a qualified and educated real estate agent who is a specialist in the area you are moving to,” says Harris. “Many of the real estate websites now also provide detailed area information.”
To make sure that the house’s location is right for you, research the community and work with a good agent who’ll help you throughout the home buying process.
And to start searching for a home, check out My Perfect Home – a tool to help you find the right house for you.
Advice if You Can’t See the Home in Person
Even though Vader’s mom couldn’t give her a virtual tour of the house with FaceTime or a similar mobile phone app, she still had enough trust in her mom to make the process work.
“My mom didn’t have a smart phone at the time,” says Vader. “She took photos from a digital camera and uploaded them to Shutterfly for me to view, but mostly, I just knew she wouldn’t let me move somewhere that wasn’t going to be a good fit for me.”
If you can’t make it out to see the home you’re interested in buying, ask your real estate agent to send photos and videos of it.
“Your agent can preview the property and provide a virtual showing with you via FaceTime,” says Harris. “Ask your agent for phone numbers of neighbors to speak to about the neighborhood.”
Harris also recommends researching crime rates online and searching for other data, such as the quality of the neighborhood schools.
Expect Changes with the Home Loan Process
When Vader was applying for a mortgage in Michigan, there was a short holdup in her home loan process. She was asked to provide her lender with a signed letter from her employer showing that her income would remain steady in her new state.
“Verifying my income turned into a bit of a big deal because I was keeping the same job I had when I was in Virginia,” says Vader. “I was going to be working remotely and my employer didn’t even have an office in my new state, so the lender wanted proof from my employer that I would be keeping my job.”
Every situation is different, so you may not have an issue verifying employment, but you could still run into other obstacles. According to Harris, getting a loan for a home out of state isn’t quite as easy as it would be if you were buying a home in the same state where you currently live – but don’t let this stop you.
“Don’t get discouraged; just know that things might take a little longer,” says Harris. “The lender’s decision to allow the out-of-state purchase may depend upon the reason for your purchase.”
Harris also warns that you should have a well-thought-out decision, or you may get denied.
“Don’t be surprised if the bank or lending institution chooses to raise the down payment requirement or decides to charge a higher interest rate,” says Harris.
Overall, Vader says getting a home out of state worked out better than she ever could have expected. She thought she was going to have to buy a new home within a year or two of moving in, but the process turned out so well that she ended up loving her new home and lived there for five years.
To make your transition to a new home or a new city easier, check out our guide to relocation.
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