5 Things to Do Before Buying a House Out of State

Whether you’re in the southwest craving a “real” autumn experience or a midwesterner aching to get away from the polar vortex, a change of scenery sure is tempting! However, no matter how hard you plan, making a permanent move out-of-state typically comes with some downsides and inconvenience. Make your move as smooth and affordable as possible by doing these five things before committing to a home out of state.

1. Crowdsource opinions

…and take them with a grain of salt! These days, everyone seems to have an opinion, and nothing is “off-limits” when it comes to what can and can’t be said from behind a screen. However, the possibility of hearing something you “don’t want to hear” shouldn’t keep you from seeking moving advice from trusted coworkers and friends who live in the area you’re looking to buy a home in. They might be able to give you recommendations on top neighborhoods, schools, real estate agents, and recreational facilities in your soon-to-be new hometown. And even if they don’t help you pinpoint the exact cul-de-sac where you want to live, they may help you dodge a bullet by telling you exactly which areas to avoid and why.

2. Do your research

When it comes to buying a home, no amount of research will ever feel like enough, especially if you’re a first-time buyer! Just like crowdsourcing advice from trusted locals in your network, make sure to get a diverse perspective by reading what “strangers” are saying about your potential new state. Like we mentioned above, make sure to take these opinions with a pinch of salt, and keep in mind that different platforms serve distinct purposes. Here are a few good resources we recommend looking at:

  • Reddit: The “front page of the internet” has earned its tagline for a good reason; it’s the ultimate forum for peer-to-peer discussions, recommendation exchanges, and “social news.” You can use Reddit as a search engine to find topics that are pertinent to your out-of-state home search. For instance, if you’re trying to find the best area to move to in Portland, OR, you may input “PDX housing market” in the search bar.
  • US Census Bureau: Reddit is great for sourcing subjective observations and recommendations from locals in your destination, but you’re also going to need some cold hard facts, which is where the US Census Bureau comes in. You can find plenty of data and visualizations on employment trends, housing, demographics, and more at a state-, county-, and city-level on their website.
  • Niche: Niche is a ranking and review site that started as a way for incoming first-year students to vet and compare colleges. Today, the site has far outgrown its original purpose by aggregating data from various sources to help people find the best places to live. You can use it to sort and filter through neighborhoods by everything from walkability and politics to cost of living and type of area.

3. Work with a buyer’s agent

You may think that real estate agents are only necessary when selling your home, but the truth is, a good agent can be your greatest asset when you’re in the market for a house out-of-state, too. A reliable, experienced buyer’s agent will guide you as you tour homes, go through the inspection and option period process with you, and negotiate on your behalf when you’re ready to close.

Additionally, partnering with a local real estate agent can help you tour homes before moving and before buyers without an agent. It will give you access to MLS listings that have not yet hit real estate sites like Zillow and Realtor.com. This can make all the difference when you’re shopping in a scorching real estate market like Austin, TX, or Nashville, TN.

Plus, in most cases, the home seller pays both agents’ commission, which is split between the buyer and seller’s representatives. (The cost of paying this commission is typically factored into the price of a home, so it’s technically part of the money you’ve paid, but it’s coming out of the seller’s pocket.)

4. Budget conservatively

Though many real estate listing sites will give you an “estimated monthly price” based on a 20% down payment and current mortgage rates, this rarely gives you the full picture of what to expect.

First off, it typically doesn’t factor in mortgage closing costs, inspection and appraisal fees, property taxes, and HOA-related expenses, the last of which can often change from one year to another. When you tack the cost of moving and furnishing your new home out of state to that list, you’ll be left with a way different number!

In addition, this estimated monthly price fails to consider how your wallet will be affected by the cost of living in your new state — whether you’re considering a work-related relocation or moving out-of-state without a job lined up. You can use Nerdwallet’s cost of living calculator to see how far your current income will go in your new state or how much more you’ll need to make to enjoy the same quality of life. If you have a financial planner or advisor, you can work with them to help you budget according to your situation and long-term plans. No matter which budgeting tool or resource you use, try to err on the side of caution and give yourself plenty of wiggle room if things don’t go as planned.

Lastly, though applying for a loan before finding your dream home out-of-state may sound counterintuitive, it typically pays off. Mortgage pre-approval can help you move quickly when you find your home, showing the seller that you mean business and helping you stay competitive when there are multiple offers. Additionally, knowing how much home loan you qualify for can help inform your search and save you from the unpleasantness of falling for a place that’s out of reach.

5. Test the waters in your new state

Though moving out-of-state into a place you can call your own sounds awesome, buying property before becoming acquainted with your prospective new community could have serious downsides!

But don’t worry! There’s no need to experience homebuyer’s remorse when you can “road test” life out of state with help from CORT Furniture Rental. Find a home or condo that offers short-term leases and rent all the furniture, decor, and essentials you need to be comfortable. Next, rent furniture from CORT Furniture Rental until you find your dream home in your ideal neighborhood. When you no longer need to rent furniture from CORT, all you have to do is schedule a pickup and our team will load up the furniture — no heavy lifting needed on your part!

Don’t haul old furniture across state lines hoping it will fit in your temporary or permanent home. Rent furniture you need for as long as you need, then buy furniture that fits the space in your new home. CORT can help you with everything from finding a home to curating, delivering, and setting up a furniture rental package that meets your needs.

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