Moving is always difficult, but buying a house far away from where you currently are makes it even harder. Finding a house in a different city, state, or even country is a huge challenge, but many people manage to do it. If you’re buying a house in a totally different location, you need the right help.
Here are five tips for long-distance house hunting.
Hire a real estate agent that specializes in relocations
Finding an agent that specializes in relocations will work to your advantage in this situation. Your agent should know the right neighborhoods for what you are looking for – and know why one neighborhood is better than another. Your agent should be able to give you all the information you need, i.e., commutes, bars/restaurants, outdoor activities, and all the local info you need as a new resident. With long-distance house hunting, many questions/issues will arise, and you want your agent to be helpful and a problem solver.
Determine your home buying budget
Determine how much of your monthly income you can spend on a mortgage. Remember to leave yourself a reasonable cushion for savings, insurance, taxes, and other expenses. Estimate your monthly mortgage payments, factor in additional costs (insurance, taxes, PMI, closing costs). Use your home inspection results to take inventory of repairs that may be needed and the age of big-ticket items, such as your roof, decks, HVAC system, etc. If you believe that any of these will need replacing in a few years, make this part of your savings plan now.
Have an honest conversation about what is needed in the next home
What do you want in a home, and what do you really need? It’s hard to differentiate the two, and it’s tough to get started. Think of your current living situation – what do you like and dislike? Talk to friends and family and ask what they like and dislike about their home. Is there something they feel they wouldn’t change?
Try to make it to the inspection
If you can travel to only the inspection or the closing, many choose the inspection. Most inspectors are happy to teach new homeowners about regular maintenance they should be doing and show them small things that won’t affect that sale but should be fixed. In a hot market like Canada, where the demand for homes for sale in Toronto is higher than the inventory, many sellers choose to pay for a pre-list home inspection. This gives the potential buyer comfort before a bidding war starts.
Plan for at least one visit to your new city (if you can)
If you can visit your new area for a week or so, that would be helpful – however, sometimes that just isn’t possible. Perhaps visit once at the start of your home search to familiarize yourself with the area and such, and then visit again if you want to see your new home in person before the inspection or closing.