Working remotely and looking to move? Here’s how to buy a home in a different city or state

07.29.202 | Category: Homebuying

With 2020 now safely in the rear view mirror, it’s time to start thinking about the future. What does that look like for you? If you’ve been working remotely for the last 10 months, you may be thinking that it’s time to switch things up and are considering relocating to a new city or state. Perhaps your ideal home is a cabin in the woods, or a beach front bungalow, or just someplace where housing prices are more affordable.

Before you decide to make the move, there are a few things that you’ll want to consider.

How to evaluate new communities & living costs

In many parts of the country thriving real estate markets have led to higher home prices. In fact, home prices rose 9.5% year over year in November, according to the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index, showing the fastest annual growth in six years. Many predict that the strong surge in home prices is not slowing down, thanks to high buyer demand and a record low supply of homes for sale.

The S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller 20-City Composite Home Price NSA Index seeks to measures the value of residential real estate in 20 major U.S. metropolitan areas: Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cleveland, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New York, Phoenix, Portland, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Tampa and Washington, D.C. Calculated monthly, the index is included in the S&P CoreLogic Case-Shiller Home Price Index Series, a family of indices designed to be consistent benchmarks of housing prices in the U.S. The indices track the total value of existing single-family housing within the U.S. SOURCE: STANDARD & POOR’S 

For many home buyers, this can simply mean that buying a home in the city where you work is out of reach. But with talks of remote work being something that’s going to become more permanent, you may have more flexibility where you can live and work.

If you are considering buying a home in a different city or state, we highly recommend that you do your research and then do some more. You’ll want to immerse yourself in everything that your new city and neighborhood has to offer. Some things that you’ll want to review are:

  • How long properties tend to sit on the market before selling.
  • Review what renovated vs. unrenovated properties are selling for.
  • Check out how safe your new community is - a neighborhood that has a low crime rate and is an inviting and safe place to be outdoors and commune with neighbors is the type of place where most people want to live.
  • Research future development plans for new schools, hospitals, public transportation, and other civic infrastructure. These additions can affect the desirability of the surrounding area and can dramatically improve property values.
  • Proximity and convenience to access things like:
    • Grocery stores
    • Shops
    • Restaurants and entertainment
    • Schools - even if you don't have kids, if you want to sell your home in the future, many buyers will be on the lookout for good schools
  • Review the biggest and richest employers within close proximity.
  • See how your new city or neighborhood ranks on the Best and Worst places to live.

Once you’ve done your research on your new city and neighborhood, it’s time to start the all important process of finding the right home.

Tips for your remote house hunt

We know that the idea of buying a home in a new city or state can be nerve wracking, but with the right team and a few tried and true tips, you’ll be ready to start your search. Here are our 5 best tips for buying a house in a new city or state:

  1. Find a good agent - When you’re purchasing a home in a new city, your real estate agent will be your eyes and ears, especially if you’ll be conducting your entire search virtually. You want to find someone who truly understands what you’re looking for and that you trust to give you their straightforward assessment.
  2. Take advantage of technology - 3D tours and FaceTime walkthroughs are the new norm, so be sure to request them whenever possible.
  3. Get a second opinion (if you can) - Whether it’s a cousin that happens to live down the road or a childhood friend, if you know someone in the city where you're moving try to enlist their help with your home search. Once you’ve narrowed down your search to a final few options, see if they can attend an open house on your behalf. And remember to ask them about the intangible items - sounds, smells, neighborhood vibe, gut feeling, etc.
  4. Tap into social media for help - Neighborhood groups can provide recommendations for a realtor and tips for the area. For example if you’re moving with a military spouse, consider joining your squadron’s Facebook page to get information on where people are living. You can also contact your new base’s Fleet and Family Services to get info on the area.
  5. If you can, attend your inspection - Knowledge is power and a good home inspector will document all flaws on the prospective property that you wish to purchase, no matter how small they appear. Having a complete picture of the property will help you truly evaluate if this is the right home for you. If the inspector finds any major problems, like foundation cracks or leaky roofs, you may be able to counter offer and get the seller to either fix it or reduce the selling price.

If I can work from anywhere, where do I want to live?

With many predicting that the work from home model is here to stay, your home buying options may now be limitless. Remember that even with the rise in remote working, some cities are simply better to work and live in (even if you are remote). As you evaluate your options it’s important to consider what’s important to you and do your research. The more you know about your new prospective city and home, the better off you are.

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