How to Buy a House Out of State in 2021

Whether you’re moving out of state for a new job, to be near family or just a change of pace, it can be a challenge — especially if you’re buying a house in the process.

Fortunately, many things can help. Here’s how to buy a house out of state with ease:

1. Assess Your Moving Situation

The first step toward moving out of state is to assess your situation. What’s your timeframe, and what resources are you working with? For example, if you’re moving for a new job, your employer may offer reimbursement for certain moving expenses. In some cases, they may even help you arrange for movers or other services.

You will also need a good handle on the “why” behind your move. This will help you zero in on the best community and home for your needs.

40% of Americans moved for a new job in 2020.

Source: United Van Lines

Why do you want to move to a new state?

The majority of Americans move out of state due to a job change. According to data from United Van Lines, a whopping 40% of movers packed up for a new job last year, while about a quarter moved to be close to family.

Other reasons you might consider moving out of state include:

  • To start a family
  • To enjoy an area’s specific culture or values
  • To explore a hobby or interest
  • For a change of climate/weather
  • For better home prices or housing availability

Whatever the reason, use it to help guide your move and focus on the perfect community for your home purchase.

When do you want to move?

Determine your timetable next. According to Bellhops, 90% of people move within a month of deciding to do so. Do you want to act that quickly, or do you prefer a leisurely move? Discuss it with your family and start to build a timetable.

Keep in mind that buying a house can take a few weeks or a few months. More extended time frames can exist if the area you choose is in high demand. Your move will also depend on whether you want your home to be move-in ready, as well as your preferred mortgage lender. Some mortgage lenders can take longer than others to process and close a loan.

2. Research Your New Home State

Now it’s time for some research. You’ll want to dig in and learn all you can about your new state and community before starting your house hunt. Great places to start are the city’s chamber of commerce website, the local newspaper, neighborhood forums, and Facebook groups.

Satisfaction with your personal safety, family relationships, and current city may be top factors in feeling settled in your life.

Source: Porch

Here are a few things you’ll want to learn about your new community:

Job prospects and opportunities

Unless you’ve already secured employment, you should study up on your new city’s job market early on. How in-demand is your career or specialty in the area? What about that of your spouse or partner?

Visit job sites like Monster.com and Indeed.com to see opportunities in the area and what companies are based there. If you’re on LinkedIn, connect with a few business leaders in your new town. They can connect you with potential job opportunities as they arise.

Cost of living

Knowing the cost of living in your new community will be critical to securing a home within your budget. Move.org has a great list of average prices for many U.S. cities, and Best Places has a calculator you can use to compare your new town against the old one. 

For specific data on salaries in the area, use Glassdoor to research local companies. You can also use this data when negotiating your future earnings.

Finally, start researching housing in the area. You’ll want a good idea of what homes cost in the city and what sort of mortgage payment you can expect. Your mortgage lender can give you an accurate payment estimate for your target purchase price.

Attractions and culture

It would help if you also studied up on your new community’s culture, what people do for fun, available amenities for kids, families, or couples, and what hobbies you can explore.

Research things like:

  • Events and festivals
  • Museums
  • Parks and playgrounds
  • Nightlife
  • Recreational centers and facilities
  • Sports teams 

If possible, consider planning a day or weekend trip to your future community to experience some of these things yourself. This will help you better evaluate if the area meets your needs.

3. Plan to Move to a New State

Now, it’s time to start planning. You’ll need to work out your budget, break down your housing must-haves, and focus on a specific neighborhood for your home search. 

Know what’s affordable

There are a lot of costs that go into moving — not to mention buying a house. Take some time to break it all down to make sure you have enough saved up.

Take into account:

  • The cost of movers, vans, boxes, and packing materials
  • Travel to and from your new city before you buy and during the move
  • The down payment and closing costs on your house
  • Any décor or furniture your new home will need
  • Any relocation assistance or reimbursement your employer might offer you

From there, you’ll get an idea of the total costs that buying a house in a different state will come with. Try to leave some cash in savings, too. You never know when it will come in handy.

List your home preferences

Start thinking about what you want in a home. Keep in mind your reasons for moving and use that to help determine your must-haves and nice-to-haves.

Have a good idea of:

  • The size and number of bedrooms and bathrooms you’d like
  • Any lot/yard requirements
  • The style of home you prefer
  • Whether you want a one- or two-story home
  • Other features you might want, like a garage, patio, pool, or fireplace

Don’t forget to think of your future selves when making this list. What will you want or need five years from now? If you’re planning to have children or adopt a pet down the road, make sure to consider their future needs as well.

Imagine your ideal neighborhood

You’ll also need to locate the best neighborhood for you within your new city — one that offers the types of housing you like, as well as all the amenities, features, and access to your needs.

Think about things like:

  • Access to parks and green spaces
  • Roads, accessibility, and commute times to work 
  • Local school ratings and programs
  • Walkability
  • Neighborhood amenities like pools, shops, and dog parks (here’s more about buying in a pet-friendly neighborhood
  • HOA rules and local zoning laws
  • Crime rates

Once you’ve narrowed it down to a few neighborhoods, hop on Google Street View and walk the area yourself. This will give you an idea of what the community looks like and how it measures up to your research.

4. Buy a House In Another State

Buying a house out of state before you move can seem daunting. Fortunately, technology makes most of the necessary steps stress-free and allows you to buy a home in another state with ease.

Visit the city in person

If possible, visit your new city in person. This will help you better assess the neighborhoods, culture, and amenities your new town comes with.

While you’re there, go on a few home tours — even if you’re not ready to buy yet. It will give you a good idea of home styles in the area, and it might even help you hone your must-haves list a little more.

Secure financing

Getting pre-approved for your mortgage is an essential first step in the house-hunting process. Pre-approvals give you an idea of how much you can borrow and ensures that home sellers take your offer seriously.

As important as your mortgage pre-approval is, don’t forget your budget. How much you want to afford often differs from the maximum amount you’re pre-approved for. Having an accurate budget and sticking to it will set you up for a long run of happy, stress-free years in your new home.

Choose a local real estate agent

Since you’re buying from afar, you’ll need an on-the-ground agent who can be your eyes and ears for you. Choose one that specializes in your specific city or neighborhood, and make sure they’re tech-savvy. You’ll want video calls while they’re touring properties for you and at other points in the buying process, too.

Consider interviewing multiple options and get recommendations from people you know in the area. Your mortgage lender can point you toward a good agent as well.

Learn about local real estate laws

When it comes to real estate, every state (and often city) has different laws. There are rules regarding disclosures, zoning, inspections, deeds, property lines, and more. All of these can impact your purchase.

Talk to a real estate attorney in the area to learn what laws and fees your new home purchase may come with. They’ll be able to walk you through the different requirements, as well as any responsibilities you might have along the way. You can also check with your city’s housing or planning department to learn more about local ordinances that could impact your purchase.

Buy your new home

Once you’ve been pre-approved, have studied up on the area, completed your budget, and nailed your must-have list, it’s time to find your dream home. 

You can use virtual home tours, 3D walkthroughs, and Google Street View to help you assess properties from afar. And don’t forget to lean on your agent for help. Having them do a live video call from your top three or four properties is a great way to see the homes and get live feedback from someone in the house.

When you’ve found the home for you, work with your agent to make an offer, negotiate, and finalize the contract. Then it’s time to schedule your inspection and start packing. You’ll also need to make travel arrangements and start lining up movers if you plan to hire help.

Buying a new house out of state doesn’t have to be complicated

There’s no hard-and-fast requirement for purchasing a house in another state, but you should expect to put a reasonable amount of time and research into the process. Fortunately, once all is said and done, you’ll be in your new home — one that’s a better fit for your career, health, wealth, and family.

Just remember: you’re not in this alone. Hire a local agent to help guide you, and lean on technology and homebuyer education to ease the process.

If you’d like advice on how to buy a house out of state, get in touch with Homebuyer today. We’re here to help every step of the way.

Source: Porch

Dan Green

Dan Green is a former mortgage loan officer and an industry expert. He's appeared on NPR and CNBC, and in The Wall Street Journal, Bloomberg, and dozens of local newspapers. Dan has helped millions of first-time home buyers get educated on mortgages, real estate, and personal finance. Have mortgage questions? Ask Dan in the chat.

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