Congratulations! You’ve landed the job of your dreams…but it’s in Washington DC, and you’re moving from out of state—maybe even across the country. If you need to master long distance house hunting like a boss, then you’ve found the right place.
Buying a home from far away seems like an overwhelming job. Fortunately, the team at Glass House Real Estate has partnered with hundreds of remote house hunters just like you. We have the know-how on this topic, and today we are sharing our advice on long distance house hunting in Washington DC and the surrounding areas.
Tip #1 – Know your housing budget and get prequalified
Before you can begin a either a local or a long distance house hunt, you need to know your housing budget. To find this number, and to be sure that you can make an offer on a home, you should reach out to several mortgage lenders and procure a pre-qualification letter.
This document proves to sellers that you are a buyer, in earnest, and that you are prepared to make a move. Having this paperwork ready is a significant advantage in the highly competitive DC real estate market.
Tip #2 – Visit the area
A trip to Washington should be a top priority in kicking off your house hunt. Even if you’ve visited the region before as a tourist, come now and view the communities around the area with an eye towards becoming a resident. You’ll find that each area has a distinct flavor and vibe.
Look at the location of your new job and decide on whether you’ll commute by car or Metro. See if the communities near your office are affordable on your salary and what amenities are available to you.
You will learn the area from a new perspective and with a different appreciation.
Tip #3 – Hire a real estate agent
While you’re on that trip to visit the area, meet with and retain the services of a real estate agent. Although it’s not an absolute necessity to meet the agent in person, it’s a good idea to make sure that your personalities click.
Here is why. Your real estate agent will become your virtual eyes and ears once you return to finish out your old job and pack up for the move.
An agent is a local who knows the area and can guide you to homes within your budget, and that meets all your expectations.
Tip #4 – Assist with the research
Don’t expect your realtor to do all the heavy lifting once you’ve returned to your current city. Use online search tools to narrow the field during the process. By sharing listings that you’re attracted to with your agent, they will begin to have a better feel for your likes, dislikes, preferences, and quirks.
Don’t forget to research the local school districts, things to do around the community, and overall cost of living.
Tip #5 – Remain open to suggestions
As you move along in the long distance house hunting process, you should plan to be flexible and remain open to suggestions from your real estate agent.
The hottest real estate markets, like that of the Washington, D.C. Metro area, move at a rapid-fire pace. It’s not unheard of for the best houses to be listed one day and sold the next. So, when you have your heart set on a specific home, you need to move fast. But don’t be annoyed if you need to make an offer on a Plan B—or even Plan C—house.
Your real estate agent is the local area expert who can advise you when new listings become available and position you to make an offer before it’s too late.
Tip #6 – Hire a professional mover
A long-distance move is grueling. It’s not a task where it’s easy to fly solo; even if your family is moving with you, don’t underestimate the difficulty of the logistics of this move. Splurge on the professional moving company and take the stress off of yourself!
Best Wishes with Your Long Distance House Hunting
Your long distance move—and concurrent house hunt—can overwhelm some buyers. But with these tips in mind, we are confident you can master it like a boss.
Jeff is a Glass House real estate broker with nearly 10 years of experience in the Washington DC real estate market.