How to Buy a House Out of State in 8 Steps

Cardinal Financial May 26, 2023 | 6 min read
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Buying a house can feel daunting, especially when it involves moving across state lines. Find out how to buy a house out of state, the right way, with our eight-step out of state move checklist. Step 1: Set a budget.

Your out of state move checklist

  • Assess your finances and set a budget
  • Compare costs of living to narrow down locations
  • Explore potential homes virtually
  • Find a great local real estate agent
  • Visit the new area and view potential homes
  • Get pre-approved for financing from the lender of your choice
  • Make an offer
  • Start planning your move

1. Assess your finances and set a budget

When you’re moving out of state, your costs won’t just include buying a new house. You’ll also need to budget for things like movers, storage, gas or plane tickets, and accommodations for the period between moving out of your current home and into your new one. As for your new house, don’t forget to include closing costs and appraisal fees in your mortgage budget.

Pro Tip: We may not be able to help you calculate your unique moving expenses, but we can help you calculate how much home you can afford. Take our affordability calculator for a spin to see what’s possible.

2. Compare costs of living

It’s no secret that the cost of living has been on the rise lately. That being said, cost of living does vary by state, city, and even neighborhood. So, once you have your budget, it’s time to use that to narrow down your target location. Cost isn’t everything, of course. When deciding where to house shop, don’t forget to prioritize what matters most to you. That could be school districts, proximity to work, walkability, and anything else you need to be able to put down roots.

3. Explore potential homes virtually

So, you’ve decided on an area. Now, it’s time to explore homes. Even though this step is a challenge with out of state moves, virtual tours have come a long way since Covid. In addition to listing photos, many homes may also provide video tours, FaceTime tours, and more ways to see the space without booking a flight.

4. Find a great local real estate agent

This one is important. Since you’ll be conducting most of your house search from across state lines, having a real estate agent on your team who knows the local area is key to finding great homes in areas you’ll love. A good agent should have:

  • In-depth knowledge of the local area
  • A track record of closing quickly, for less than the asking price
  • Clear communication expectations
  • Strong negotiation skills

5. Visit the new area and view potential homes

Whether it’s time, budget, or any number of other obstacles, this step might not be possible for everyone buying a home out of state. But, if you can swing it, it’s always best to see a home in person before you make an offer. To make the most out of your trip, wait until you have specific houses in mind to tour with your real estate agent (and make sure those showings are scheduled ahead of time). You should also use this opportunity to explore the local area and get a feel for the specific neighborhoods you’re considering living in.

6. Get pre-approved for financing from the lender of your choice

So, you’ve got a home in mind. Now it’s time to choose a mortgage lender. If you want to use a lender you’ve already worked with before, great! Just make sure they’re licensed to operate in the state you’re moving to. Especially in a seller’s market, pre-approval is a must-have if you want to bid competitively. Most pre-approval letters are good for up to 60 days, so don’t take this step until you’ve chosen a home and are ready to make an offer.

Especially in a seller’s market, pre-approval is a must-have if you want to bid competitively.

7. Make an offer

Ready to take the plunge? Once you’re pre-approved, your real estate agent can help you make an offer on your home. Just a heads up: You may find yourself in a bidding war with other buyers. To ease the stress and reduce the chances of your offer getting rejected, try these strategies:

  • Get pre-approved
  • Lower contingencies
  • Include an escalation clause
  • Stay flexible
  • Don’t give up if your first offer isn’t accepted

8. Start planning your move

We could fill a whole separate blog with moving tips, but here’s the general breakdown.

8 weeks before you move

  • Take inventory of your stuff. What are you keeping? What are you donating? What needs to be thrown out?
  • Arrange moving transportation. For long-distance moves, you’ll likely also need to consider storage for your belongings if they arrive before you do.
  • Transfer school and vet records if needed.

6 weeks before you move

  • Buy packing supplies (more than you think you’ll need).
  • Remember that casserole that’s been sitting in your freezer? Time to use it or lose it.
  • Measure your new space to make sure your furniture will fit. No sense lugging a dresser across state lines only to find that it won’t fit through your new doors.

4 weeks before you move

  • Packing time! Don’t forget to set aside items that you’ll need to keep with you throughout the move, as anything you pack may be in storage until you can settle into your new home.
  • Disassemble furniture you’re not using. Your movers will likely do this anyway, but probably with less care.
  • Label your boxes. Your future self will thank you when it’s time to unpack.
  • Change your address and update your billing information once USPS has processed your request.

2 weeks before you move

  • Submit your workplace PTO requests for moving week if needed.
  • Prep your vehicle for the trip.
  • Confirm moving day details with your mover.

Week of your move

  • Refill prescriptions if you have them.
  • If you have pets, update the address associated with their microchips.
  • Get cash to tip your movers.

Bonus tips on how to buy a house out of state

Our final advice for how to buy a house out of state? It’s never too early to start planning. An out of state move may not be in your immediate future. But, if it’s something you’re interested in doing down the line, make sure you’re ready when the time comes. Start saving for your move, plan trips to cities you may want to live in, and don’t forget to have fun.

With a little extra research and the right real estate agent, it’s easier to buy a house out of state than you might think.

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