If you’re trying to relocate and but a house at the same time, it’s a challenging task. Coordinating a move can be surprisingly stressful. Add to that the challenges that can come with purchasing a house when you don’t already live in that area, and you could easily become overwhelmed. Luckily, the situation isn’t impossible. If you’re buying a house in a new city, follow these steps to achieve success.
Estimate Costs Before Buying A House In a New City
First and foremost, you need to get a firm grip on what you need to spend both for your move and your new home. Packing up and heading to a new city can be incredibly expensive, and often involves costs people don’t expect.
Spend time gathering accurate numbers for your moving costs. This includes moving company or truck rental fees, packing materials, storage units, and anything else you might have to cover before you get settled in a new house. Then, set that amount of money aside, ensuring you don’t spend it on anything else.
Once that is done, you’ll have a good idea of what you have left for home purchase costs. Along with a down payment, you need funds to cover your earnest money, home inspections and appraisals, closing costs, and anything else that you either have to or want to handle with cash.
After completing those calculations, you need to do more math and figure out how much you can spend on the house itself. You need to factor in all costs, such as the mortgage payment, insurance cost, property taxes, and more. At that point, you’ll know what price point you can look at when you start your home search.
Research the Housing Market and City’s Neighborhoods
Once you know your budget for buying a house, it’s time to figure out what your money can buy. Get online and conduct some searches based on what you can afford to spend. See if you can easily find options in that area or if your choices are limited. For example, can you get into any neighborhood or just some of them? Can you live in the city, or do you have to look to others outside of your target destination?
You’re not trying to find the right house yet. Instead, you’re striving to understand what your money will or won’t get you. If it turns out that you have to stick with specific neighborhoods, then you’ll want to shift your research efforts and learn as much as you can about those areas. This can include anything from crime rates to school district performance statistics. You should also look at employment rates, local job opportunities, commuting and public transit options, walkability scores, access to core amenities, and anything else that influences your quality of life.
Take a House-Hunting Exploration Trip Before You Move
Ideally, you want to be able to see what the various neighborhoods have to offer in person before you commit to a house. By scheduling a house-hunting trip in advance of your move, you can explore the areas where you are likely to buy and even look at some available properties.
Connect with a realtor that specializes in your target area. Have them find a few listings that align with your criteria and take a day to explore them. Make sure you also leave room in your trip for some excursions alone. You want to see what these neighborhoods are like not just in broad daylight (when you’ll probably be touring houses), but also at night. Similarly, checking out the locations on weekdays and weekends is wise.
Go to the City to Find Your Ideal Home
In many cases, you’ll need to make multiple house-hunting trips before you actually move. But, once you select target neighborhoods, that doesn’t mean you should buy a house in that area site unseen. Instead, it’s best to make a trip before you make an offer and see it in person. That way, you won’t be caught off-guard by something that wasn’t in the listing’s pictures.
Make Your Choice Well Before You Move
It’s important to understand that it typically takes 30 to 45 days to close on a home once the processing starts. However, it can go longer, especially if there are any unique aspects to your application or something unexpected occurs. For example, if your home inspection reveals a problem you want or need the seller to fix, that may result in a delay if it takes time for them to address the issue.
That timeline doesn’t factor in a few other activities as well. If you have a back-and-forth with the seller about the price, that can add days or weeks to the process. Similarly, any time between making an offer and it being accepted isn’t in that 30- to 45-day window either. For regular sales, that can add a couple of days. With a short sale, waiting for a reply to an offer can take several months. Foreclosures may only take days for an offer to be accepted but can take longer as well.
You need to take those timelines into consideration. If you don’t, then you may end up in your city without a place to live. If that happens, you could get stuck in hotels or a short-term rental.
Ideally, you want to be able to get the process well underway before you actually move. Otherwise, make sure to have a backup housing plan, just in case everything takes longer than expected.
Do you have any tips that can help someone buying a house in a new city? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
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