If you are among the tens of thousands of people who will move to Arizona from out of state in the coming year, you likely have lots of questions. The unique challenges of relocating over state lines makes some people understandably anxious, especially if they are considering buying a house immediately. So what do you need to know before buying a house from out of state?
First steps to buying a house from out of state
Create a buyer’s timeline
Moving is stressful enough, whether you are moving locally or moving from out of state. Having a solid timeline in mind is the first step to making buying a house a more manageable process, but it is especially key when you are crossing state lines and may not have the flexibility you would otherwise enjoy. For example, you may not have the option of crashing at a friend or family member’s house if your move-in date gets bumped for any reason. Furthermore, you will likely be limited in the amount of time you can spend scoping out open houses and potential neighborhoods. Having a solid timeline will enable you to make the most of every minute.
If you are moving from out of state, there is a good chance that it is for a new job. Taking your start date (subtracting some time if you want/need to get settled in before you go to work) and working backward is a good place to start … this will be your target move-in date.
On average, it takes 40 days to close on a home if it is a regular transaction. Keep in mind that short-sales and foreclosures are notorious for taking much longer to close on. If you are in a rush, you will want to avoid those listings and look for traditional sales instead. So then, you will take your target move-in date and move back 40 days or so. This will be the target date for making a successful offer on a house.
Ideally, you will have a few months prior to that to go through the rest of the process. But with some careful planning on your part, you should be able to expedite the process and get into your new home more quickly. By putting in some extra work to get pre-qualified for your mortgage and finding your buyer’s agent at the same time is a good idea—plus, a good buyer’s agent will also be able to steer you in the direction of a good local mortgage lender if you are not sure where to start.
Try to get pre-qualified
Pre-qualification for your mortgage will not only let you know how much money you can spend when buying a house from out of state, but the pre-approval is also necessary before making an offer on a house, anyway. Once you have pre-approval, it is good for 90 days, giving you roughly a 3-month window to purchase a home.
Large companies like Wells Fargo offer mortgages nationwide and you are probably already familiar with them. It is worthwhile to shop for your mortgage and, if possible, consult with a real estate professional in your new home state to find recommendations for local lenders as well. Having a mortgage company that is easy to work with is critical to closing efficiently, and getting a good rate can save you thousands of dollars in the long run.
Find a buyer’s agent
At the same time, you are looking into pre-qualifying for your mortgage, research real estate brokers to find a buyer’s agent to help you through the process. When you are buying a house from out of state, it is especially critical that you find an agent who you like and trust. Partnering with an agent who will go above and beyond their basic fiduciary responsibilities will dramatically improve your overall experience buying a home. Additionally, they might be able to help you find neighborhoods you might not have considered, let you know about pros and cons of
certain areas, and have helpful information that you might not have thought of when coming from out of state. For example, people moving to Arizona from out of state may not realize that heat pumps are the norm instead of furnaces; pool maintenance and landscaping services are probably cheaper than you think; because of slab construction, many water shut-offs are outside instead of within the house as is common in cold weather climates.
You will want to share the timeline you have already worked out with your buyer’s agent. Their knowledge of the local real estate market will be helpful in gauging the nuances of how much time you should anticipate looking at houses and getting an offer accepted. This will help flesh out your timeline for clearly so that you can plan accordingly.
If you are moving to Arizona from out of state, give us a call! We would love to show you around town and take on some of the heavy lifting on the real estate front so that you can worry about everything else that goes into moving.