How to Maximize Your House Hunting Trips When Relocating
If you are relocating chances are pretty good you will make at least 1 trip to the area to look at homes, and communities, in the flesh, rather than relying on what you are told and finding online. While more people are buying homes sight-unseen, this can be a pretty risky proposition. It’s one thing for a rental property, but quite another for a primary or even vacation home, in my opinion.
If you are coming from a distance your home search in the new area will probably be limited, so make the most of this time by preparing appropriately.
1. As with any home search be as thorough as you can when looking at homes and researching communities (including schools, crime and other matters that are important to your lifestyle). It’s particularly challenging in our current market since you might identify homes you love, only to have them disappear right away.
TIP: Be sure you have a very good sense of what you need in your new home, including the issues that are important for your lifestyle. Ask me about my Buyer Lifestyle Questionnaire.
2. Develop a list of the properties that interest you, and ask your REALTOR® to arrange for you to see these homes, and others that may be suitable given your criteria and budget. You can add new properties that come on the market at the last moment. Your agent will likely have properties to suggest, especially as he or she gets to understand what you want and need.
3. Plan to spend significant time looking at houses and tour as many as you can that make sense for your needs and budget. If you find you are in an area you don't like, let your agent know so you don't waste time going to homes in that area and can cancel those showings.
TIP: Keep an open mind about communities that offer you the lifestyle you seek, even if the home is not perfect. But don’t be afraid to take neighborhoods off the list, either!
4. Take lots of notes in whatever way works best for you. If someone else is involved but not available, you can use Facetime, What’s App, or Skype to share the tour!
Be sure you have a copy of the MLS printout for each house you are seeing so you have all the information.
5. It may be helpful to have your REALTOR® drive so you can explore the area more readily plus have a good Q and A about the homes, market and community.
6. Be prepared to take photos and videos (check with your agent that this is OK) to supplement notes you might be taking. Photos will tell you a lot and help you remember what you saw. Seeing lots of homes in a short period gets confusing, and your own photos will be useful, especially if photos in the MLS listing are lacking.
7. You may find it helpful to rank order homes as you go, and eliminate those that are low on the list right from the beginning, and why that’s the case. Keep track of your favorites and what stands out and why! It’s easy to get confused – sometimes buyers even name the homes as they go in order to remember them.
8. Be sure you take enough time to explore each home, inside and out, unless you know right away it’s not right. There is nothing wrong with deciding a home is definitely off the list if you are sure so you don’t waste time.
You might have a schedule of appointments so check with your Realtor. Be sure you explore a property thoroughly before moving on. And revisit homes that really interest you. Sometimes a second look can confirm what you originally thought, OR you see something you missed the first time.
9. Don’t forget to check out the neighborhood, too, and the larger community – commuting routes, amenities, etc. I advise taking time on your own to do this after your home tour. You’ll have fun playing tourist and will learn a lot.
10. Depending on your personal situation (budget, timing, sale of current home, market conditions), prepare yourself mentally to make a buying decision when you find the right house. This can be hard to do for some buyers, and of course it depends on your circumstances. If you have done your homework, and are working with a great REALTOR®, chances are you’ll find the home you want during your trip, so be prepared to move ahead quickly. This is particularly important when house hunting in a seller’s market where many homes disappear within days, as is happening here in the Carlsbad area.
11. Check to make sure you have a current pre-approval letter for any offer you want to make on your trip, or upon returning home. Put your loan officer on alert in case you need to call/email to get a revised pre-approval letter quickly while traveling if you find the right house.
TIP: Consider having your loan officer call the listing agent of the property you want to buy to review your financial status (only what is not confidential, of course). Ask your agent if a proof of funds (POF) is required for your deposit/down payment; this will be necessary if you are paying cash.
Need more relocation tips? Check out my video series on my YouTube Channel – Relocation Tips and Advice.
Please give me a call at (760) 840-1360). I am happy to help you from start to finish with your relocation here to SoCal, or with a move out of this area. I have moved 4 major times myself, the last move from Boston to California in 2005, and have helped many who have relocated so I understand what you are going through well!
Ask me about my Relocation Checklist
And if you (or someone else you know) are relocating to an area other than SoCal, there are still ways I can assist you. I have a great network of highly qualified agents around the country and can help find you the right Realtor to assist in finding your new home and/or selling your current one, no matter where you are in the US.