Moving out-of-state can be an exciting adventure, but the idea of finding housing in a new area can feel daunting. Especially if you’re moving somewhere you haven’t visited much, or where you don’t know anybody.
It’s easy for a major move to turn into a nightmare. A mix of staying organized and getting the right help along the way simplifies and de-stresses this big transition.
Jen Davis, a buyer specialist with the Dan Holt Team, a Keller Williams Realty team in Springfield, Missouri, offered Rewire some helpful advice to smoothly navigate a move to a new area.
Whether you’re planning to rent or buy, have an expert help you find your next place of residence, Davis said.
Renting? Seek out a rental agent. These pros can guide your rental search in an unfamiliar city and even share information about listings that you might not find through your own internet searches.
Buying? Connect with a buyer’s agent. Unlike listing agents, who specialize in putting houses on the market, buyer’s agents specialize in working with prospective buyers, Davis said. A buyer’s agent will put your wants and needs first, and this arrangement avoids the potential conflicts of interest you might see with a dual agent, or transaction broker.
There are a few different steps to follow to find the right help in your target area, Davis said:
So, you have a list of promising leads and have contacted their offices to ask any questions you might have. Now it’s time to set up a remote buyer’s consultation with an agent so they can find the best housing fits for you.
Davis lets prospective clients choose whether they complete this consultation over the phone or video chat. She uses questions to help them create a detailed list of their needs and wants. For example, you might be asked:
“We’re trying to get a really clear picture of what they want before they come into town,” she said. “Our goal with relocation is for that person to feel very, very confident before they get here.”
After that, even if your house-hunting trip is weeks away, you can expect to start receiving emails about properties the agent thinks might interest you. The listings you’re sent in the beginning might not be available when you actually visit, but seeing these examples helps you and your agent make sure there isn’t something you do–or don’t–want that wasn’t previously discussed, Davis explained. However, if you see something you really love, it might be possible to schedule a virtual walkthrough on video chat.
If you’re traveling to your new city ahead of time to scope out housing, plan to schedule three to four days for the visit, Davis said.
You’ll see a few houses on the first day. Rather than overwhelming her clients with, say, 10 showings, Davis focuses on showing three to five options that seem most promising. This schedule also leaves time for regrouping. That way, “if something is missing in translation,” there will still be time for you to see houses that weren’t on the original list.
Use the second day to have a second viewing of the properties that seemed promising. If you decide to bid on a house, plan for the negotiation process to also take place on this day.
Don’t forget to leave one or two days for downtime and getting familiar with your new area, Davis said. Try new restaurants, explore local shops, go for a hike in a local natural area or enroll your kids at their new school.
Relocating is “a very stressful experience,” but the house hunting trip shouldn’t feel that way, she said. Working with an experienced agent can ensure they manage some of this stress, rather than all of it falling on you.
Even if you aren’t using an agent, don’t show up to an unfamiliar area for a housing search without doing your research beforehand. For instance, if you’re searching for an apartment, call the main desk in the complexes you are interested in to schedule showings in advance. Make appointments at several places. Also, make certain you allow plenty of time for a second look at promising rentals, signing your lease and exploring the area.
Rachel Crowell is an Iowa-based writer exploring science and math. Rachel lives with Delilah, a golden retriever a stranger once called “the cutest thing in America.” Outside of STEM topics, Rachel also welcomes writing opportunities on everything from art to finance. Follow them on Twitter at @writesRCrowell.