So, you’ve decided: It’s time to start looking at the real estate market outside of your state. Maybe there’s a new job offer. Perhaps you’re looking for a vacation home or second house. Or, it could just be a time for a change of scenery.
In some ways, choosing to buy a house in a different state is just the same as buying one down the street. You’ll still need to think about issues like mortgage financing and monthly payment structures, set aside some money for closing costs and hire the movers.
In other ways, moving out of state is a unique experience. You’ll have to answer questions about paying tax on the new home while finding a way to tour and inspect the property, though it may be located far away.
Some of the practices that can help you most during your home buying journey are equally useful no matter how far you’re moving. Alternative home buying platforms like Bungalo, for instance, can put you in a new house quickly and efficiently, wherever your destination may be. With that said, it’s worth thinking about just what makes an interstate house search so unique.
Conducting a long-distance real estate search
Looking for a new home in another state almost inevitably means performing a good deal of online research. Even if you’re relatively free to travel, there will likely be plenty of digital searching before you close in on a property.
Giving yourself as much time as possible to complete this search is a good idea, as is looking up information about your chosen area as well as the houses themselves. Your process may start relatively broad but then narrow down as you become more certain about where you want to end up and the type of property you want.
Today’s real estate offerings sometimes come with virtual tours — take advantage of these where possible, and don’t forget to ask for any relevant inspection reports that might contain vital information about a house on your shortlist.
There is more to a house than its location and sale price, so getting a closer look via a tour can teach you a lot, even if that walkthrough is virtual. Traveling to visit multiple homes in the area is another potentially useful strategy, provided you can plan to use the time effectively.
It’s also important to be sure all the information you’re receiving is legitimate. Scammers sometimes prey on interstate homebuyers. When searching for a home through Bungalo, you can be sure every listed house is truly available, that the prices are accurate and that necessary renovations and inspections have taken place.
You may have assistance from your workplace if you’re moving to take a new position within a company. No matter the reason why you’re making a purchase, you have to decide whether to lead your own search or have a real estate agent on your side. If you go the latter route, you can call on a relocation specialist rather than a more general agent.
Taxes and legal requirements for buying a property in another state
What is the tax and fee structure in the state you’re moving to? How does it differ from financial requirements where you currently live? These are important questions to answer as early as possible in the home buying process.
The existence of an unexpected tax on any part of home buying can change the math regarding your readiness to pay closing costs or make a certain level of monthly payment. This means you should sort out questions around taxation early before you commit to a mortgage.
There are a few potentially surprising legal matters that can come up when moving from one state to another, and you don’t want them to trip you up. For example, how do you go about changing official documents such as your driver’s license and vehicle registration? Are there any other local programs you have to register for?
The cost of living can differ between regions for a variety of reasons, and some go beyond the obvious property and income taxes. Doing as much research as possible with people who know the area well is an ideal way to get ahead of potential problems or last-minute inconveniences.
The exact conditions around your new house may be different if you’re considering using it for an investment property or rental property instead of buying it as a permanent residence. This is very important to work out in advance, to make sure zoning laws and tax obligations don’t cause challenges to appear when you’re getting ready to close on the home.
Loan options when buying real estate out of state
As with any home purchase, your ability to secure a mortgage loan will play a big role in determining what type of new home you can move into when you move across state lines. While the general pattern is the same — find a lender, get prequalified, get preapproved, agree to final terms — there are a few special steps to take for a long-distance move.
For example, when searching for a mortgage lender, you should probably focus your attention on banks that mainly serve the area where you’re planning to move, rather than those around your current home. There is also the option of a national bank that serves both locations, so you can deal with the same financial institution at home and in your new state.
The mortgage application process can be somewhat extended when dealing with an out-of-state lender. It pays to factor the extra time into your calculations for the home search. As with any mortgage application, you will have to provide proof of your assets, your credit score and your general ability to pay off the mortgage.
Some banks offer a special relocation loan offering that is specifically designed for moving long distances. This joins a list of other specialty mortgage offerings, such as Veterans Administration and Federal Housing Administration loans, or modified options including jumbo loans. Each of these could be an alternative to a conventional loan.
As with any move, you can find the best possible terms for your new mortgage loan by seeking out offers from multiple lenders. You aren’t under obligation to work with a specific bank until the mortgage papers are signed, even if you receive a preapproval letter from that institution.
Your best options for your home search
If your workplace doesn’t come through with relocation assistance, it’s time to consider your options for the home search. Do you want to look through online listings yourself, turn to a real estate agent, employ a specialty service? All these options are open to you, and you can mix and match them, using a variety of channels to narrow down your home choices.
Working with a buyer’s agent is one way to learn more about the area where you’re planning to move. A professional can sort through listings and help narrow down your options to homes that meet your criteria. This is a conventional way to conduct the home search, but it’s no longer the only way to look, given the rise of technology in real estate.
Today, you have more options than ever when it comes to home search tactics. For example, when you launch your home search through Bungalo, you can simply point at a location on a map and browse available homes there. This is a way to immediately target a region where you’d like to move and see what your options are.
What makes Bungalo different?
With Bungalo home listings, there is none of the ambiguity that can plague more general real estate searching. The asking price listed for each house is calculated based on data from other sales in the area and designed for fairness. You simply submit your offer online, based on a mortgage preapproval letter, and it’s accepted or not — no tense bidding wars with other potential buyers.
You can use Bungalo whether you’re looking on your own or with help from a buyer’s agent. You receive cash back if you don’t have an agent receiving a commission on the sale, but if you want someone to help you search for a home in your new state, that’s also an option.
Once you’ve had an offer accepted on the house of your dreams, the closing process is simplified with Bungalo. All activities are sorted into a checklist for you to follow, and the houses have received the Bungalo Certified seal of approval — that means there are no outstanding issues. If a covered problem does unexpectedly arise in the first 90 days, it’ll be fixed at no cost to you.
If you’re ready to make a start in a new state, you’ll have to choose who and what to have on your side. Bungalo is a perfect addition to your house hunting tool kit, laying out great options and helping you make them yours.
*This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.
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