From buying groceries and ordering clothes to even buying your own private island, nowadays, everything seems to have moved to the online world. So it's no wonder that buying a house remotely is becoming increasingly popular. We can mostly thank the COVID-19 pandemic for it. Due to limited contacts and open houses becoming virtual tours, many people had to buy remotely.
If you are looking to purchase a house this way, we understand you might feel skeptical. It is a considerable investment to make, and you want to be 100% sure you're making the right choice. But don't worry - that's why we're here. We've prepared tips and advice that will make your long-distance homebuying adventure that much more straightforward and hassle-free.
Buying a house remotely - how to approach it?
Given that there are unique challenges when purchasing a house remotely, you need to be prepared and familiar with different aspects of it. So, here's what you need to know before starting this exciting journey.
#1 Think about your finances
When looking for houses online, it's very easy to get carried away and search beyond what you can afford. For that reason, the first thing you should do before shopping for a new house is to analyze and determine how much you can spend.
Another cost to consider when shopping for a house in a different city or state is the relocation cost. Long-distance moves are all but easy. Still, there are ways to ensure you have a stress-freeprocess. When choosing movers, do a bit of research and obtain quotes from several companies. That way, you'll be sure you're making the right call.
The first thing to consider before buying a house remotely is your financial situation. If you are not sure how to determine your budget, consider talking to a financial advisor.
To summarize, before starting your remote homebuying journey:
- Build your credit in advance to get better loan options.
- Get loan offers from several lenders before you make your decision. Buying a house is not something you should do in a hurry, so choose the best possible offer you can get.
- The best way to go is to get preapproved for a mortgage. This way, you'll be perceived as a serious buying candidate. Once the time comes to make the offer, you'll probably have an advantage over other potential buyers.
- Make sure to set a realistic budget and stick to it. Talk to your real estate agent and demand to only be shown homes you can afford.
#2 Know what you want
After you've set your budget, make sure to make a list of what you absolutely need in a house and the things you'd like for your new home to have but are not essential. Don't forget to consider your deal breakers, too.
Knowing what you want from a house will make it easier for your real estate agent to find suitable properties to show to you. Regardless of if you are looking to buy a holiday home or your new family house, you should determine the property size, location, condition of the home, and similar before you start looking.
#3 Hire experienced help
Hiring an experienced real estate agent is that much more critical when buying a house remotely. However, this is yet another decision you shouldn't rush. Instead, interview several people and choose the one whose experience and knowledge suit your home buying needs the best.
Make sure to ask your friends, colleagues, or acquaintances for recommendations. For example, if you are looking to downsize and one of your friends went through the same process recently, ask for the contact details of their real estate agent. If they had a good experience, it's highly likely you will, too.
#4 Schedule virtual tours
Since you'll be unable to see homes in person, you'll be limited to photos and virtual tours. Therefore, you need to know what to look for and how to recognize potential faults and issues. For example, it's not uncommon for photographers to use a wide-angle lens to make rooms seem bigger. If anything seems suspicious, try your best to get a hold of the floor plan or room measurements.
When looking for homes online, it's easy to miss crucial details. Therefore, make sure to schedule virtual tours.
The best way to go is to talk to your real estate agent and schedule virtual tours of the properties you're interested in the most. Even though it's not the same as seeing the place in person, it's still better than relying simply on photographs. Pay attention to details, and make sure to ask your agent as many questions as you need.
#5 Take advantage of the due diligence period
Once you've found a home you like and you made an offer, you can still back out of your purchase in case there are some issues with the property you were not familiar with at the time you've made your offer. That's what the due diligence period is for - to conduct a home inspection, sort financing, and get bank appraisals.
The due diligence period is a great protective measure for buyers. This is especially true when buying a home remotely, given that you'll get enough time to check out the house in person. Keep in mind that this period is chargeable, usually between $100 and $2000, as the buyer is basically taking their home off the market until they make their final decision.
Another thing you shouldn't miss is scheduling a home inspection during your “option period.” If there are some hidden faults, the home inspector will let you know in a detailed report. You can use this to either terminate the contract or as leverage to reduce the price.
Have in mind that regulations vary from one state to another. For instance, let’s say you’re looking for a home in San Antonio. The due diligence period in Texas is anywhere between 1 and 10 days so you need to schedule everything in advance to take full advantage of this time. The good news is that the San Antonio market is hot now. Sellers are looking for ways to make their offers stand out and you can take advantage of this situation. For example, ask for your due diligence fee to be waived or have a home inspection done by the seller.
#6 Close remotely
Lastly, closing is another part that can be done remotely. With the E-Sign Act of 2000, your electronic signature became as valid as if you signed a document in person. After you've chosen a house you want to buy, your agent will send you the necessary documents, which you'll need to sign and send back to the relevant party. Your agent will complete the rest of the process for you while you can sit back and plan your relocation.
The best part about remote home buying is that you can handle all aspects of it online, even contract signing.
Good luck with your long-distance home hunting!
As you can see, buying a house remotely is not that difficult if you prepare well and hire a reliable real estate agent to help you during the process. Make sure to take your time, do your research, and the process will be as smooth as possible.
Edward Parker is a dedicated father of two with a passion for real estate. He works as a content developer at heavenlymove.com a company that has helped hundreds of families relocate and settle in their new homes, both in and outside of Texas. As Edward is always on top of real estate market trends, he loves writing blog posts and sharing his knowledge and tips. However, his most favorite activity is weekend fishing trips with his two boys.