Looking for a new home locally is challenging enough. If you have a job lined up in another state and don’t have the resources to travel to that area and somewhere to stay while you spend weeks house hunting, you may need to look for a new home from hundreds or thousands of miles away.
Gather as Much Information as Possible
Start your home search online. You can visit a variety of websites to get information on houses in your target city and price range. Compare square footage, amenities and prices, and investigate the local school district.
Find out as much as you can about specific neighborhoods. Many communities have their own Facebook pages where you can learn about local events, homeowners association rules, and what people like and don’t like about where they live. If you have questions, introduce yourself online and ask current residents for the inside scoop. Check with the local police department or online resources to get statistics on crime rates and the most common types of offenses.
Property tax rates can vary widely depending on location. Even two neighboring towns can have very different mill rates. Before you purchase a house anywhere, be sure to look into the tax rates. Differences in property taxes could help you decide between two similar and comparably priced homes.
Partner With Local Professionals
Working with a real estate agent is important in any home-buying process, but especially if you’re searching from afar. A local agent can give you valuable information on the housing market, schools, economy and community that you couldn’t obtain simply through online searching. Find a real estate agent who’s highly recommended and comfortable working with a buyer who is currently living in another state. Ask the agent to take pictures and videos of properties that interest you or to schedule a video chat while walking through a house.
Having a house inspected before you buy is also critical. An inspector can identify any problems and help you avoid purchasing a house you haven’t seen and then discovering major issues after you’ve moved in. Make any purchase offer contingent on an inspection and appraisal.
See the House and Community With Your Own Eyes
If possible, visit the house in person before you submit an offer. While you’re in the area, explore the surrounding community, including local restaurants, stores, parks and entertainment venues. Drive between your prospective home and your new workplace during rush hour so you can figure out if the commute would be manageable.
Be Careful When Conducting a Long-Distance Home Search
Looking for a new home when you’re currently living across the country poses a unique set of challenges. Find out as much as you can by exploring online and talking to local experts. Make every effort to visit the area yourself to find out if a house that seems like the right fit is in fact the best choice.