How to buy a house out of state in 10 steps
Homebuyers purchase houses in other states for many different reasons, but they all have one thing in common – they all want a smooth home buying process and a home they will be proud to own. Fortunately, advancements in technology have made this process more feasible even for buyers with a limited ability to travel. Successfully buying a house out of state is a little more complicated than buying a home in your current state. However, it is perfectly doable. It just takes extra care and savvy as the whole process has a few more layers. Below, you’ll find a brief step-by-step guide on how to buy a house out of state, so check it out!
1 Familiarize yourself with your new city
The less familiar you are with your new community, the more important this step is. Get informed about the community's crime rate, employment potential, economic stability, home prices, cost of living, climate, etc. Visit the city’s website, read local news articles, and join residents’ social media groups. Check your potential neighborhood’s proximity to hospitals, grocery stores, parks, restaurants, and other attractions on Google Maps. We also suggest contacting the Chamber of Commerce and asking for a free information package.
2 Find a reliable buyer's agent
If possible, hire an experienced buyer’s agent who specializes in working with out-of-state buyers. Their services include finding houses for sale that meet your needs, attending open houses on your behalf, assisting in negotiations, home inspections, and the closing process. In addition, they can recommend reliable professionals for other services you may need, such as a home inspector or local real estate attorney.
To find a good buyer’s agent, search for local listings online or contact listing agents who appear in online listings and ask them for referrals to buyer’s agents. Then, check each agent’s website to gather more information about them.
You can also ask a real estate agent you know in your current community to refer you to a buyer's agent in your new community. Realtors who are members of the National Association of Realtors have access to nationwide databases in which they can find agents in other communities listed according to their success rates.
3 Find a relocation specialist to help you out
If your move is work-related, your company may offer a relocation package that includes the services of a relocation specialist. But even if it’s not work-related, it's still advisable to hire a relocation specialist.
Skilled relocation specialists will help you prepare everything you need in advance, arrange for packing and moving services, coordinate travel for you and your family, overlook contract work that’s being done to your new house, even enroll your children in a new school. Some relocation experts may also help you buy a house out of state as well as sell and close on your current one.
4 Get photos and videos
If you can’t be there in person, get as many photos and videos of the houses you’re interested in as you can. When your buyers’ agent attends open houses, you can walk through with them via Skype, for example. If you have a friend or a relative who lives nearby, ask them to attend open houses, too. Some sellers organize virtual tours allowing you to see the home's exterior and interior as if you were physically present. You can also ask your agent to give you a virtual tour of the whole neighborhood.
5 If possible, visit the house before you buy it
Before you make an offer to buy a house out of state, try to take a trip and see it in person. No technology can replace the feeling you get when you walk into a house and experience the atmosphere first-hand.
6 Know the rules
Each state has its own rules when it comes to real estate law. Building codes, zoning laws, and property lines are just a few of the things you should learn about, especially if you want to make changes to your new house. For example, the zoning board or the homeowners association (HOA) may forbid adding a swimming pool or putting up a fence. If you know the restrictions in advance, you will avoid unpleasant surprises.
Gathering this type of information is something your real estate agent and real estate attorney can help you with. It is also a good idea to contact the local building authority and the homeowners association and find out about any restrictions that the property may be subject to. Your agent will be able to give you their contact information.
7 Get a home inspection
Since you’re going to spend a significant amount of money on this purchase, having the house you like inspected is a must. A home inspection is often mandatory as part of the sales contract. However, in case the buyer is paying cash or the house is selling "as is", the buyer has to order the inspection. There are often problems with a home’s foundation, roof, HVAC system, wiring or plumbing that only professionals can detect. Hiring an inspector to check everything could save you from purchasing a home with problems you don’t know about.
8 Make offers electronically
When you are ready to make an offer, you can do so by using your real estate company's online proposal feature or email. Eventually, you’ll need to sign paper copies and provide them via insured overnight mail, but an electronic offer that has your digital signature will be sufficient until the paper copies arrive.
9 Close on your current home before you buy a house out of state
The lender making the loan for the house you are purchasing must receive the closing statement (or the Housing and Urban Development (HUD) statement) from the closing on your old home. Additionally, they should receive any funds that are being wired from selling your old home. Therefore, the closing on the house you’re buying should happen a few days after the closing on the home you’re selling.
10 Contact local utilities on time
Amidst all the chaos, buyers easily overlook some important details such as basic utilities. Two to three weeks before moving to the house you bought, contact the utility companies in your new city and send them a deposit to make sure utilities such as water and electricity are switched on before your family gets there.