Finding a Home Long-Distance—Even When Time Is Short
When your next move takes you across the country instead of around the corner, it could mean turning a lengthy home search into a quick decision. But even if you have to relocate quickly, you don’t have to settle. Follow these four pointers for making a smart home-buying decision, even on the fly.
1. Check the Web
Conducting an online search can help you narrow your home choices and define your wants and needs. Then, when you go out to look at houses, you can focus only on homes that meet your criteria. Using a Realtor with extensive knowledge of your new city will also help you narrow your search. Also be prepared for a disparity between the cost of living in your current area and in your new chosen location.
2. Ask an Expert
Ultimately you’ll need someone in your new location to handle the logistics of your search. “Your Realtor can do all of the things you would do if you were there,” says Jim Hamilton, a regional vice president at the National Association of REALTORS®. “He or she will schedule home viewings, pick you up at the airport, and even chauffeur you around town to look at houses.” A Realtor can provide the inside scoop on neighborhoods and market conditions that only a local would know, as well as gain access to additional photos of the home and its sales history. He or she may even be able to find out how motivated the sellers are and determine whether the home will be available by your projected move date.
When you contact the Realtor, be very clear about your time frame, your budget, and other essential qualities that you desire in a home and location. Prioritize the items on your wish list—such as proximity to schools or work—before you make the call.
3. Make Time to Visit
Hamilton recommends staying in the area long enough to put in an offer for the home you like. Contract negotiations can take a few days, depending on the amount of back-and-forth required. Your Realtor will specify the response deadlines required in the contract, but 24 hours is a typical turnaround time for an initial response to an offer. Should negotiations drag on, you can always arrange to have the Realtor fax or e-mail the contract. Once terms are set, your Realtor can even help with scheduling the necessary inspections and other logistics.
4. Seeing Is Believing
When you’re touring homes, make the most of your time. Take notes so you can easily recall and compare details after looking at several homes. In addition to viewing the interior of the house, ask your Realtor to drive around the neighborhood so you can note pros and cons there as well. At the end of the day, all of this information will help you weigh your options, narrow your search, and make the best decision.