Home Buyers July 16, 2023

6 Tips for Buying a House Out of State

There are a variety of reasons for buying a house out of state. Perhaps you have a new job opportunity or want to be closer to family. Maybe you’re looking for a summer home or for a rental property to diversify your investment portfolio. Following these six tips will make the process of buying property from afar smoother and more manageable.

1. Know the costs associated with buying a house in Washington state

First and foremost, take into account the cost of living and housing prices in different areas. For example, in Washington homebuyers have the opportunity to live in the city of Seattle, in picturesque nearby suburbs, or in more rural areas. Wherever you decide to buy a home, the cost of living varies widely. Check out Bankrate’s cost of living calculator to get a sense of housing costs compared to where you currently reside.

Consider that the property tax rates vary by state. Also, the closing costs, real estate laws, and even the climate can impact your home-buying decision. Check out this article for more specifics about purchasing a home in Washington state.

2. Consider how the house will be used

Ask yourself: Will this home be a primary residence, a rental home, a vacation home, or a vacation rental? Whatever the case may be, create a list of specific wants and needs to communicate with your real estate agent. A single-family house with a fenced-in yard may be ideal for a growing family while a downtown waterfront condo might be the perfect vacation home.

If the new home will be rented out, consider the pros and cons of managing the property personally or finding a property management company to handle marketing, screening tenants, home repairs, and more.

3. Use a local real estate agent

Using a local buyer’s agent has numerous benefits when buying a house out of state. They know the local market and will utilize the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) to identify homes that fit your budget and criteria. If you’re unable to tour a home in person, they can show it to you through video chat while pointing out details. When it comes to negotiations, they will advocate on your behalf. Additionally, many of our agents are relocation specialists who have years of experience helping manage and prepare for their clients’ long-distance moves. They will explain the pros and cons of different neighborhoods, and help you get connected to the community. A great agent will also be communicative and readily available throughout the process.

When buying a house out of state, streamlining the process in any way possible can really reduce stress. A local agent can do that, connecting you with their vast network including excellent home inspectors, local lenders, repair workers, and more.

4. Review the home-buying process and timeline

Buying a home out of state may create timing challenges. Check out our Guide to Buying a Home for a complete picture of the home-buying process. This comprehensive guide will walk you through the pre-approval process and how to make a competitive offer. It explains escrow, home inspections, closing, and more. This guide is the perfect place to start when beginning your out-of-state home-buying journey.

5. Consider contingencies

It is important to understand any contingencies on an offer that may be in place when buying a home out of state. As a homebuyer, you may also wish to include a home sale contingent offer if you are trying to sell your current home before moving.  There are two different types of home sale contingencies that may be beneficial when buying a house out of state. However, home sale contingencies have pros and cons, which should be discussed with your real estate agent.

6. Utilize current technologies and local contacts

Technology provides a perfect conduit for buying a house out of state. Potential buyers can use online search tools and get connected with local realtors. Also, many listings feature 3-D tours. You can easily conduct video conferences with local agents, lenders, and home inspectors. Furthermore, financial and lending institutions have secure portals available for signing paperwork.

If you have personal contacts in the area where you are considering a home purchase, reach out to them. Ask them questions to get a sense of the area. You may even ask them to tour a home you like in order to have another set of eyes on the property. While it takes a little more planning, buying a house out of state is very manageable thanks to today’s technology.