"Buying a house in State C while I am in State A and hubby is in State B is a special kind of crazy".
That was a status update on my Facebook feed the other day. As a human, I understood. As a mom, I felt compassion. But as a REALTOR®, I was puzzled - and a bit embarrassed - and ready to apologize on behalf of our professional community.
Relocating to another state and buying a house from afar doesn't have to be "crazy" or stressful or anxiety inducing. As long as you have found the right people to work with, it can be a smooth and efficient process.
I, myself, relocated to Maryland in 2004 (I have been a REALTOR® since then) and have assisted multiple relocation home buyers with their purchase in Silver Spring & Beyond since then:
Back in 2007 I assisted an Air Force family with buying a townhome in Laurel sight-unseen. In 2008 I helped a corporate relocation client find new home in Bowie.
In 2012 I worked with an Army couple whose dream home happened to come on the market just 2 days after hubby had to leave town on TAD orders.
In 2013 I worked with clients who were stationed at an embassy half-way around the world and bought a home in Silver Spring. At the beginning of 2015, I delivered the keys to their new home to clients in Berlin, Germany ...
Some of my clients did all the upfront research - with my assistance - from out-of-state and were ready to house-hunt as soon as they got here. Others didn't see their new home until after settlement. They had family around or flew them in to attend the home inspection and take a quick look around.
Since I helped that very first relocation couple, technology has come such a long way and has made this process much more efficient. Online forms and e-signatures eliminated the need to fax documents back and forth or to send them via snail mail (when original signatures are required or a Power of Attorney is needed, snail mail is still necessary).
Relocating/PCS'ing to Maryland does not have to be "a special kind of crazy"! Prepare and pay attention to the 3 "T's" and your home buying process will be a smooth and efficient one:
1. Find the right Team: the REALTOR® assigned to you via some home-buying advantage program that promises you a few hundred dollar rebate may not be the right one for you. Experience and the best fit of personalities can yield better results.
Research online: find agents who have an online presence, know the area you are relocating to, have a track-record, good reviews... and/or ask for a recommendation from people you know and trust and then talk to a couple. You want to be comfortable from the get-go. Do they respond within a reasonable amount of time? Are you getting your questions answered and receiving the information promised? Is the REALTOR® willing to adjust to your time-zone or schedule calls when it's 3 AM for you? Does he/she appear to be organized?
2. Technology: make sure that the team you are assembling is utilizing e-signatures and online forms. Believe it or not, there are still REALTORS® who prefer to fill in offers by hand - there's nothing wrong with that but it's not an efficient way of handling a relocation transaction. Also, if you are not able to house-hunt in person and have no trusted family member or friend to check on your behalf, your agent should be willing and able to provide additional pictures, videos or utilize FaceTime, Skype or WhatsApp to give you as much info as possible.
3. Trust: your REALTOR® has the answers to your questions or knows where to get it. Ideally he/she has a network to tap into to help you through all the steps of the home-bying process.
Trust that the information he/she pulls directly from the Multiple Listing Service is the most accurate.
3rd party websites such as Zillow and Trulia compile the data that is accessible to them. Some of the data you'll find is not up-to-date and sometimes arrived at by comparing apples to oranges and other information (such as that new listing that could be the perfect fit for you) is completely missing.
Buying a house in another state does not have to be a special kind of crazy!