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Moving Out of State? Here’s How to Organize Your Home Search

Apr 06, 2020 by Tara Mastroeni

Moving out of state can feel like an overwhelming task, but it can be done. All it takes is a little extra planning and preparation on your part to make it happen. With that in mind, below are four tips to help you organize your home search, no matter how far away you may be from your new area.

These suggestions should give you a better sense of where to start when you're ready to buy a home in a new state. Then, keep them in mind throughout the process so you can make sure you end up in the property that's the best fit for you.

1. Hire a local real estate agent

Finding the right real estate agent is a key component to the success of any real estate transaction, but that's doubly true when you're buying from out of state. In that case, you're going to need someone who can guide you through the process of buying a home and who can answer any questions you have about your new area.

If you're already connected with a real estate agent in your current city, consider asking them for a referral. Often they can help put you in contact with a qualified professional, perhaps even one who specializes in relocation. On the other hand, if you're starting from scratch, do your research. Read online reviews and take the time to interview any potential agents until you land on someone who feels like the right fit.

You'll also want to follow a similar procedure when looking for a lender. Since many loan programs vary by state, working with a lender in your new area is your best bet.

2. Research potential neighborhoods first

After you have your agent in place, the next step is to research potential neighborhoods. After all, you're not just buying a home to live in, you're also selecting the area where you'll be spending most of your time. Not only that, but focusing in on a few neighborhoods can help make your housing search easier as well.

If you aren't sure where to start, a website like Niche can be a great resource. It helps you grade different neighborhoods based on a variety of factors including:

  • Walkability.
  • Cost of living.
  • Quality of the school district.
  • Crime rates.

Once you have a few target neighborhoods in mind, you can work with your real estate agent to start narrowing your search down to specific properties.

3. Decide on a realistic budget

Obviously, budget is going to be a big consideration in your home search, especially once you start looking at potential properties. However, it may require more thought than usual when you're making a long-distance move. After all, two different locales can have very different costs of living, and it can be shocking to see how far (or not) your money will go.

Start by working with your lender on a preapproval. Then, consider whether the price point you're given matches up with the list prices of homes that meet your needs. If not, you may need to tweak either your search criteria or your budget.

4. Plan a visit before you buy

Of course, no amount of online research is ever going to be a substitute for seeing a neighborhood or a property in person. With that in mind, it's absolutely crucial that you plan a visit to your new state before you make a move toward buying a home. While you're there, you should plan to spend the bulk of your time touring homes with your real estate agent.

However, don't forget to leave time to explore the surrounding areas as well. Make an effort to look out for any must-have services like a grocery store and pharmacy. Additionally, spend extra time in any areas where you think you might buy. Try to walk around the neighborhood or go out to eat at a local restaurant.

The bottom line

Moving out of state may feel like a much bigger undertaking than moving right around the corner. However, it doesn't have to be a big deal. With a little extra planning and preparation, you can ensure that you end up in the home that's the right fit for you -- no matter how far away it may be from where you live now.

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