It can be tough finding the perfect combination of town, neighborhood, and house that you like whenever you move. But it can be even tougher when you aren’t all that familiar with the area.
In an ideal world, you’re relocating from an area that has a higher cost of living, and the prices of homes will be a good shock to you. But quite often, when you’re moving to a new area, it’s an “upward” move, and the price of real estate is significantly higher than what you’re used to.
With that said, this information isn’t going to be a fluffy “welcome to the area” information — like what the best ice cream places, restaurants, and things to do are. (But I’ll be glad to give you my insights and opinions on those things if you want!)
Nor does this jump right into focusing on how to find and get the best home at the best price for your wants and needs. While that is obviously a huge concern and part of the process for you, jumping right into the “fun stuff” can cause you some issues if you don’t know about the things we will get into here.
Find your Focus
There’s a good chance that you’ve already sized that up to some degree online, but the actual reality can be even more startling once you’re actually out looking at homes and seeing how far your dollar stretches. This can be disheartening, causing you to lose time and miss out on some great homes while you come to terms with the cost difference. Therefore, it’s best to spend some time learning what you can expect for the amount you’re looking to spend as early on as possible.
Don’t worry, you’ll find a perfect mix of city, neighborhood, and house as long as you work with a solid real estate agent. It takes a certain amount of understanding what the values are (and why) in one area versus another.
Finding the perfect home in the perfect area can be tough even if you’re local, but when you’re relocating you’re often pressed for time. You only have so many trips you can take out to the new area to hunt for a home, and you usually need to line something up before you get to the area.
It’s best to focus on a few areas before you even come out to look. Thankfully, the Internet has made this a lot easier than it used to be. But it can still be tricky to get a real feel for an area until you actually see it in person.
This all sounds rather basic, but here’s the real tip for this section…
A lot of people relocating to a new area end up working with several different real estate agents in several different areas. That probably doesn’t sound like a huge problem to you since you don’t have to pay a buyer’s agent — they earn a commission if and only when you make the purchase.
But here are the issues that can arise when looking in several different areas with several agents:
• Each one will be a “cheerleader” for their area. Of course, they love the area they work in (and probably live) and think you should too! That’s totally natural and human, but it isn’t objective.
• Because the agents only earn money if you choose to buy a house in their area, they’re likely to be dismissive or recommend against another area that may be perfect for you.
So, if possible, try to work with one agent who can cover all the areas you’re considering. Also, try to rule out as many areas as possible (as quickly as possible) so you can focus your limited time and energy on the areas that are perfect for you.
Everyone’s Got a Real Estate Opinion
You might already know some people who live in the area, but even if you don’t already, you will — whether they’re future colleagues, bosses, or just people you meet. And every one of them will have an opinion about where you should move!
Everyone has the right to their opinion on where a good place to move is, and they probably have strong opinions based upon where they’ve chosen to live and where they’ve chosen not to live.
People generally (and probably genuinely) will want to be helpful to you. The problem is, they won’t know all of your personal wants, needs, and qualifications. So they may be recommending a great house or a great area, but it just isn’t in your budget. Or perhaps it misses the mark when it comes to some of your specific wants and needs. It might not sound like the biggest problem in the world, but it can make you feel like other areas or houses aren’t great choices when they really are. They can also make things sound like the greatest deal on earth, or most solid decision when it really isn’t. It’s their opinion…not their business (literally or figuratively).
Certainly listen to what locals have to say and recommend, but never discount your own thoughts and opinions. Form your own. And rely on a solid real estate agent who can help you objectively analyze your options and make the best overall choice for your wants and needs.
Is It a “Good” Area?
First of all, “good” is a very subjective word. What one person considers “good,” another person may not. On the other hand, what someone considers a “bad” area is “good” to others.
But let’s just say that when most people ask this question when it comes to real estate, they want to know if it’s safe, has good schools, and has solid resale value.
Real estate agents often get asked that very question… “Is this a good area?” And when they do, they can often come across as sounding kind of wishy-washy. It’s a straightforward question, so one might think it could be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.”
It’s not that simple…
Agents, by law, aren’t allowed to tell you whether an area is “good” or “bad.” Doing so can cause them to be fined or lose their license. So if you ask, and you feel like they’re avoiding the question, just know that there’s a solid reason for doing so.
The best advice you can get is to spend some time in an area you are interested in. Go during different times of day. Do you feel safe? You can also look up statistics online, of course, and perhaps even go to the local police station and ask them some questions.
The same goes with schools. What constitutes a “good” school to one person may be different for another. So, if schools are important to you, make sure to look at reports and statistics online and even make some calls to local school administrators.
Oh, and don’t even try to ask an agent questions about what race, religion, or the like is most common in the area. As you can imagine, those are off limit subjects as well. So, expect to do a little bit of research for yourself.
Should You Rent a Home First?
Some people wonder if it makes sense to rent a home in the area for a while before actually buying one. This can make sense — you can get a feel for the area and not feel like you’re making a rash, rushed, or wrong decision.
However, a lease can tie you down and cause you to miss some good opportunities when a home you want to buy comes on the market (or cost you some money to get out of the lease or pay it off).
So if you’re going to rent, you might want to consider short-term leases or even a long-stay hotel to keep your options open. If that’s something you’d like to consider, feel free to reach out to me, and I’ll be glad to give you some local options to do so. (Keep in mind: Renting can add to the overall cost and effort of the move since you’ll be moving twice.)
When To Start Looking For Your Home
It’s hard to say exactly how long it will take you to look for and find the right home. But generally speaking, people who are relocating from a different area are more deliberate and concise in their search for a new home. Someone who lives locally can often drag the process out, looking for a long period of time simply because they are local. But when you have limited time, and trips, to come to your new area and search for a home, you will likely make the most of that time.
Since the amount of time it takes one person to search for and find a home will vary, the more important thing to focus on is how long the process will take to actually close on the house you purchase once you go under contract. Even that will vary from one area of the country to another and from deal to deal with in this area. But on average, it takes 30-45 days between the time you go under contract to closing day.
So give some thought to when you want to actually move into your new home, and then take into account the amount of time the contract period takes. Then, add a month or two onto that for a more leisurely process of searching for a home. (But you can certainly do a thorough search and find a winner in less time than that if you are focused and concise.)
Getting The Best Home At The Best Possible Price
Who doesn’t want to find the best home they can? Beyond that, who wouldn’t like to get it at the lowest possible price?!
Yet many people don’t do either. And that’s across the board, not just people who are relocating to a new area. Add into the mix the stress and time crunch of buying a house while worrying about everything else that comes along with relocating to a new area, and it makes it all the less likely to happen.
I hope this gives you some insights into typical issues and topics that affect people relocating to a new area and buying a home. But it doesn’t get into the more universal topics and issues that affect being able to get the best home you can (at the best possible price).
I have a booklet that helps with that…
My Ultimate Buyer’s Guide is a bit longer and more in-depth, but it’s worth your time and effort to read.
It’s free, and there’s no obligation. All you have to do is let me know you want a copy and I’ll get it right to you. (I can send it as a PDF by email and/or a print copy if you’d like.) Just send me an email, text, or give me a call! And if I don’t hear from you, good luck with your move! But I do hope to hear from you!