8 Tips for Buying a Home Out of State

Jon Stroud
Jon Stroud
Published on July 8, 2021

8 Tips for Buying a Home Out of State

You can purchase a home in a different state but it’s more complex than buying a home in your current town.

Read these tips to help ensure a successful relocation, out of state home buying process.

1.   Contract with an Experienced Buyer’s Agent

Contract with a Buyer's Agent
Contract with a Buyer’s Agent

A buyer’s agent is a real estate agent who is legally bound to represent your best interests. This is important when you’re buying a home out of state because you need an agent who works for you and no one else. Often, buyers make the mistake of looking at a house online and then contacting the listing agent, who is required to represent the seller’s best interest.

Don’t choose a buyer’s agent at random:

2.   Do Your Research

Do Your Research

When you’re not familiar with a community, it’s very important to do some research before jumping into relocating and buying a home out of your current area. Contact the local Chamber of Commerce and ask if they can send you a free information package.

Check out sites such as Best Places to Live Now!  and city-data.com  to discover important facts and opinions about a community’s:

  • Crime rate
  • Weather
  • Activities
  • Culture and history
  • Potential employment and economic stability
  • School districts
  • Close to beach?
  • Transportation
  • Proximity to good hospital and medical care
  • Colleges
  • Urban? Suburban? Rural?

3.   Start the Process Early

House-hunting is stressful under the best of circumstances, but shopping long distance can be even more. Because a house is the single most expensive item most people buy, it pays to start working with an agent long before you’re due to move. If possible, give yourself a minimum of three months. six months would be better so you won’t feel rushed into choosing a new house.

4.   Ask for a Virtual, Real-Time Tour

Virtual home tour

When you are unable to attend every showing in person, ask your real estate agent to provide a virtual tour of the homes you are interested viewing.  A virtual tour enables you to see each room, the flow and layout of the house, the landscaping, and the home’s exterior as if you were walking through yourself. Once you’ve narrowed down your choices, ask your agent for a virtual tour of the neighborhood and nearby amenities as well.

5.   Take a Trip Before Making an Offer

If possible, before you make an offer on a house, see it in person. Even with a good agent and a virtual tour, you still need to walk through the property and drive or walk around neighborhood to get a feel on whether that property is a good fit for you. You’re preparing to invest a lot of money, so first take a quick trip to make sure the house is what you envisioned.

6.   Research Property Restrictions

HOA community

Sadly, quite a few home buyers don’t check into property restrictions before buying and find unwanted restrictions they were not expecting.  Avoid this oversight; ask your agent to supply you with the phone number of the local building authority and the homeowners association (HOA), if applicable. Find out about any restrictions that the property may be subject to. For example, the zoning board or the HOA may not allow you to put up a fence or install a swimming pool. You’ll want to know the restrictions before making an offer on a house. 

7.   Work with a National Bank

High Rise buildings

The lenders in your current community may not lend money on a home in another state, and it can be difficult to get a loan in the new community unless you’re able to visit the lender in person. Try applying for a loan through a national bank like Bank of America or Wells Fargo that has branches in both communities. That way, you can work through your local branch and still receive a mortgage for an out-of-state house.

8.   Be Aware of Online Scams

Scam Fraud Alert

Long distance House-shopping comes with the risk that you can fall victim to online scammers who may use stolen images to advertise a home at a bargain-basement price and ask you to send them a large earnest payment to lock-in the deal. By the time you figure out there is no house, you could be out a good deal of money. This is yet another reason it’s important to hire a good real estate agent.

Further Reading

When Shopping for a new home, consider location carefully

9 Questions to Ask when Interviewing a realtor as your Buyer Agent

Are you buying a house in Charleston/Mt. Pleasant, SC area?   If you haven’t hired a realtor yet, contact me.  I’d love to discuss your individual circumstances.

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