How to Buy a Home Long-Distance

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Interstate moving is nothing short of stressful. Relocating comes with many challenges, but at the top of the list sits selling your home and buying a new one. Under normal circumstances you might spend weeks—even months—carefully looking for a new place to live. But when you’re moving across the country you don’t always have that luxury. The best thing you can do before an interstate move is to utilize every resource available to you.

The Internet

You may want to stamp a big red “DUH” on our foreheads, but the Internet has revolutionized moving. 10 years ago, you’d be on the phone for days trying to find a realtor, arrange showings, and make appointments. The internet cuts all of that out. It’s the best way to find a listing in your new area. Sites like Zillow, Trulia, and Homefinder are huge helps when looking for available listings. Also be sure to check out local listing sources; in Utah, for example, KSL Classifieds is widely used. In larger cities, Craigslist might be the best place to find updated information. It all depends on where you’re moving, so ask around.

Professional/HR

If you’re relocating for work, your company may set you up with a relocation specialist or provide resources for your move. Utilize them! If your company doesn’t mention anything of the sort, talk to your HR representative or most accessible contact. They will at least be able to tell you about nice areas to target for a house, commutes to the office, and public transit opportunities.

Friends (or friends of friends)

The next best thing to being in an area yourself is having a local pair of eyes and ears watch out for new housing opportunities. This is no time to be shy. If you’re moving to Phoenix and your coworker mentions their best friend lives in Phoenix, ask if they’d be willing to answer a few questions for you. Not only will you get a more in-depth local scoop on housing, but you might make a new friend in the process! There’s nothing better than having someone to bring you a ‘welcome to the city’ casserole.

Realtors

Finding a great realtor makes any home buying process run smoother. But when you’re moving across the country, finding a realtor that you mesh well with could be the difference between just fitting your needs and finding a home that you love. Again, having a set of eyes and ears is a big bonus. But having a trained set of eyes and ears, with connections, do some digging on your behalf? It’s completely worth the cost. Keep in constant communication with your agent and make sure that you give them plenty of information about your family’s needs, likes, dislikes, etc.

Once you’ve narrowed down a few houses you feel could be great fits, it’s time for a trip. No house is worth buying sight unseen. Though virtual tours and extra photos may give you a good idea of what you think about the house, nothing replaces the gut instinct you get when you first step onto the property. And you definitely can’t get a feel for the street or community when you’re looking online. So, if you can, set aside some time to take a trip before your move and make the decision. If you can’t afford to do that, don’t buy until you move. You’ll have to make a quicker decision and it may cost you more to store your possessions, but in the end it’s better than making an uninformed, unsure purchase.

About the author

Clair Jones is the queen of the cross-country move, having relocated from Washington, D.C. to Utah, to Kentucky and back 5 times. When she isn't strategically packing her tiny car, she is probably toiling away in her garden, playing with her pet chickens or exploring the mountains with friends.