So you’re thinking of buying a home in a different state. But can you buy a house in another state without a job there? Yes, you can! But it’s a longer process. Let me show you.
Maybe you want to be closer to your loved ones or your dream job. Perhaps you want to have a vacation home or a rental property. Or maybe you just want to enjoy the perks of working remotely from anywhere. Whatever your reason, you’re not alone. Many people are looking for homes across state borders, or even across the country. But how do you find the perfect home when you’re miles away? Don’t worry, it’s not impossible. It’s a process, but with some intelligent planning, you can make it happen. Here are the steps to get started.
Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you get a mortgage? You need to prove that you have a stable income and that you can pay back the loan over time. That sounds hard, but it’s not impossible.
Even without a job, you can still show that you have or will have a steady source of income. You can do this by showing your mortgage lender:
- two-year history of self-employment income. You’re your own boss, and you make money doing what you love.
- an offer letter from your new employer that states that you will start within 30 days of closing. You’re not unemployed, you’re just between jobs.
- an income statement of a co-signer such as a parent or spouse. You’re not alone, you have someone who supports you and trusts you.
- a statement showing a reliable source of income, such as investment income, rental property income, etc. You’re not broke, you have other sources of income that don’t depend on your job.
- a statement showing that you receive Social Security, public assistance, or retirement income. You’re not lazy, you have earned your benefits or retired from your work.
- a court record showing an order for alimony or child support. You’re not bitter, you have a legal obligation to pay or receive money from your ex.
Timeline On Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
You have a dream: to buy a home in another state. Maybe you’re tired of your current location, or you want to be near your family or your new job. Perhaps you want to have a second home or an investment property. Or maybe you just want to enjoy the freedom of working from anywhere. Whatever your reason, you’re not the only one. Many people are looking for homes in different states, or even different countries. But how do you find the right home when you’re far away? It’s not easy, but it’s not impossible either. It’s a process, but with some clever planning, you can make it happen. Here are the steps to get started.
Buying a home in another state will take some time – more than if you were moving next door. On the low end, it could take three to six weeks, since that’s how long most lenders need to approve your mortgage loan. On the high end, it could take several months.
All in all, the process of buying a home can take about four months, and maybe longer if you’re moving to a place you know nothing about.
There are some other questions you need to think about when planning your timeline:
- Will you be selling your current home first? If so, it could sell faster than you can find a new one, which can mess up your timing.
- Do you need to move fast? If so, you may have to buy the home (or at least make an offer) without seeing it in person.
- Does your new home have to be ready to move in, or can you do some renovations?
- Are you ready to move right away, or do you need some time to pack your stuff?
- Will you have to travel a lot for your move?
- These and other factors can all affect your plan and timing.
One thing is certain: when moving out of state, you won’t have the chance to visit many properties and attend open houses. That’s why you need to get organized and create a smart strategy before you relocate to a new state.
10 Steps To Buy A House Out Of State
1. Create A Plan
You’re ready to buy a home in another state. But first, you need to check your finances.
You need enough money for a down payment – how much depends on the home prices and the mortgage type in your new state.
If you’re getting some of the money from a relative or friend, make sure you have it in your account before you apply for a mortgage (and if you’re changing banks, make sure it’s in the new one). If you’re using some of the money from selling your current home, think about how much you owe on your mortgage and how much you’ll make after paying it off, plus closing costs and taxes.
There are also other costs to consider when buying a home, such as:
- Buyer closing costs
- Property taxes
- Homeowners Insurance
- Mortgage Insurance
- HOA fees These costs can affect how much house you can afford in your new state.
While you sort out your finances, check your credit report for any mistakes, like wrong or misspelled names or accounts you don’t know. If you find a problem, you’ll have time to fix it before you start looking at homes. Also, if your credit score could be better, now’s the time to work on it. Try to pay all your debts on time, or pay them off or down, if you can.
2. Compare costs of living
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you do your homework? You start by doing some online research. You can also ask your family or friends who live there for some tips. You’ll want to learn about:
- Affordability – The housing market in your new state could be a bargain or a rip-off compared to where you live now, so check out the local market to see what homes are selling for. A good place to start is the local or regional Realtor association, which usually publishes the latest home price data. You can also use Bankrate’s cost of living calculator to see home prices and cost of living information for certain cities.
- Neighborhoods – If you don’t know which neighborhood you want to buy a home in, think about what matters to you in a community, such as the schools, public transit, or walkability. Know the school district boundaries, too. With a quick search, you can find several websites with neighborhood rankings and information, and for an insider’s perspective, check out local Facebook groups or Nextdoor.
- Job market – Unless you’re already moving for work, look into the local job market to see which companies are hiring and what jobs are available. The local Chamber of Commerce’s website can be helpful in this search. Ideally, you’d have a job secured before your move, but if not, it doesn’t hurt to start applying and interviewing ahead of time.
- Local real estate laws – Property and real estate transaction laws can vary by city, county, and state. Your new city could have different rules (or even meanings) for things like disclosures, zoning variances, inspections, deeds, and property lines.
- Property taxes – Property tax rates vary by municipality. If you like a property, contact the state’s Department of Assessment and Taxation to learn what the tax rates are in the area. It can be smart to talk to a tax professional, too, to learn about any differences in state or property taxes.
- Varying closing costs – Closing costs vary by location (partly because of the property tax rates and transfer tax rates, if any), property type, and the type of mortgage you get. Your real estate agent should be able to tell you how much it will cost to close on your new property.
3. Check Out The New City Look For A Home
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you see the homes? If you can, plan a trip to your new city and arrange a tour of the area and potential homes with your real estate agent. If you can’t or don’t want to travel, your agent can help you do this remotely. It’s not rare to view homes online and bid on them – in fact, in 2020, about two-thirds of homebuyers made an offer on a property without seeing it in person, according to a survey from real estate brokerage Redfin.
4. Getting Your Real Estate Agent
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you find a good real estate agent? You need someone you can trust – especially if you’ll be depending on your agent to handle most of the home-buying process remotely.
Don’t be shy to interview one or two agents to make sure you find the right fit in terms of communication style and experience. It’s also a good idea to ask for references, and then ask the references if they’d work with that agent again. If you’re moving for a job, you might also be able to use your new company’s relocation services.
But how do you find these agents in the first place? Here are some ways to search for a real estate agent in another state:
- Use a free service to find a realtor. Free services can match you with vetted, experienced agents with no obligation. Many of these services are nationwide, so they can connect you to agents in other states. Some popular free matching services that can help you buy a house in another state include Clever Real Estate, HomeLight, Ideal Agent, and UpNest.
- Use a relocation specialist. A relocation specialist is a professional who can help you sell your home, buy a new one in another area, and connect you to moving companies. If you’re moving to another state, they can provide much more support than a traditional buyer’s agent. But they might not be as familiar with your new area as a local agent would be. There are different types of relocation specialists, such as Certified Relocation Professionals (CRP), Military Relocation Professionals (MRP), and others.
- Search for a realtor in another state online. Popular real estate sites like Zillow, Realtor.com, and Redfin can show you, available realtors, in the area where you’re planning to move. Look for past sales, reviews, and specialties. You can also check out BiggerPockets’s agent match or realtor.com’s how-to-find real estate agent tool to locate individuals who are active in your community.
5. Get Your Mortgage Set Up
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you get a mortgage? You need to find a lender who is licensed in your new state – your own bank might not be. You also need to compare the lender’s rates and fees, as well as what matters to you as far as experience. Do you want to meet a loan officer face-to-face? Apply through an app? Close within a certain timeframe? Checking the lender’s overall customer satisfaction or “best of” rankings can help you choose, too.
Once you have a short list, get prequalified or pre-approved. Both processes involve giving the lender information about your credit and financial situation, but with a pre-approval, you’ll have more power to make offers on homes with the financing to back them up. (Pre-approval is not a guarantee, but it’s close, and many sellers want it before they’ll look at your bid.)
If you’re moving for a new job, give your lender a copy of the offer from your new employer that includes your start date and pay. If you don’t have a new job yet, avoid changes like going from full-time employment to contract work or switching to a new industry, since your lender’s main concern is going to be your ability to repay the loan. There are exceptions, though, like military service members returning from deployment or full-time students just starting in the workforce.
6. Make An Offer – Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you make an offer? You need to be ready to act fast once you find a home you love. Along with the offer price, the proposed purchase agreement should include:
- Earnest money – This is the deposit you’ll put down before closing, usually between 1 percent and 3 percent of the home’s purchase price – although it can be as high as 10 percent in a really hot market. These funds are usually placed in an escrow account and then applied to your down payment or closing costs at closing.
- Contingencies – These specify that the purchase of the home will only happen if certain conditions are met. Some buyers are skipping contingencies like the home inspection in order to get their offer accepted, but this is not a smart move, especially if you’re already buying the home without seeing it. You can consult with your real estate agent to determine the best strategy, but it’s always better to have an inspection than not.
Depends Where You Buy
Expiration date – This states the expiration of the offer (ideally, 24 hours) as well as a projected closing date. Stipulate that the listing agent and seller can’t disclose your offer to any other interested parties – this could be a tactic to bid up the price.
Depending on where you’re buying, you might have to prepare to pay the above list price, or for your offer to be rejected. Your agent can help set realistic expectations ahead of time, and guide you if you receive a counteroffer or want to outbid another buyer. If you’re considering raising your offer, know your limit and don’t get caught up in the drama if you can help it – over a 30-year mortgage, a bit of patience can save you a lot of money.
7. You Need To Get A Home Inspection
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you check the home’s condition? You need to get a home inspection, which is a review of the home’s state and can help you spot any areas that need fixing or decide if you want to buy the home. Your real estate agent can hook you up with a local home inspector in your new state, but you’ll have to pay for the inspection. The cost can vary from place to place, as well as by the age and size of the home.
While it’s usually a good idea to be there during the inspection, it’s not required, and it might not be possible if you’re far away. In this case, your agent can go, share the inspection report with you and talk about the next steps.
If problems come up, you could try to negotiate with the seller to make a repair or give you a discount on the price, but this doesn’t always work in your favor if there are other offers. If the seller won’t fix the issue, you might choose to fix it yourself – this could mean finding a local contractor – or just walking away.
Note that a home inspection only gives you information – it won’t tell you how much repair costs, for example. So, it can be helpful to also have a general contractor or engineer give their opinion on any issues.
8. Hire a Reputable Long-Distance Mover
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you move your stuff? You need to hire a reputable moving company. Doing a long-distance move yourself is not as easy as it sounds, so it’s best to leave it to the pros. When looking for movers, try to compare at least three companies, read their reviews, and check their credentials and insurance. If you’re moving across state lines, make sure the mover is licensed as an interstate carrier.
When comparing quotes, remember that the cost can depend on how far the truck has to go, the weight of your belongings, and whether you’ll need packing or storage services. Ask whether the move will be a partial or full load and whether it’ll be direct or require multiple stops. Make sure these are included in the quotes so you have accurate estimates.
9. Remote Closing
You want to buy a home in another state, but you don’t have a job there. How do you close the deal? You need to do a remote closing, which is similar to a normal closing, except that everything is done online. You need to upload your notary documents and your ID online, then chat with a notary over video.
This is also when you’ll have to pay closing costs via electronic or wire transfer, so contact the institution where the money is coming from a few days before the closing to make sure you know how transfers work.
If you can, though, try to be there for the closing and bring a certified check. Wire and escrow fraud is getting more common and more tricky in real estate transactions. If you really need to wire the money, call your settlement or title company directly to double-check the instructions.
Also before closing, you’ll need to get a new homeowners insurance policy. If you already have a home and aren’t sure if you want to stay with your current insurer, now’s a good time to shop around for other options. Just make sure you keep your current policy until the closing.
10. The Final Moving Preparations – Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
You’ve done it. You’ve bought a home in another state, even without a job there. Congratulations! But wait, there’s more. You still have to prepare for the big move. These arrangements might include:
- Contacting local utility companies to set up or transfer service. You don’t want to move into a dark and cold house, do you? Make sure you contact the local utility companies in your new state and arrange for service to start on your move-in date. You might also want to compare rates and plans to see if you can save some money.
- Updating your health insurance provider and finding local healthcare practitioners and a pharmacy. You don’t want to get sick or injured without proper coverage or care, do you? Make sure you update your health insurance provider with your new address and find out if they cover any doctors or hospitals in your new area. You might also want to find a local doctor, dentist, and pharmacy that accept your insurance and are convenient for you.
Changing and Registering
- Changing your driver’s license and vehicle registration. You don’t want to get pulled over by the cops for having an out-of-state license or plate, do you? Make sure you visit the local DMV in your new state and get your driver’s license and vehicle registration updated. You might also need to get an emissions test or a safety inspection, depending on the state.
- Changing your address and forwarding your mail. You don’t want to miss any important letters or bills, do you? Make sure you update your address with the post office, your bank, your credit card company, and anyone else who needs to know.
- Registering to vote in your new state. You don’t want to miss out on your civic duty, do you? Make sure you register to vote in your new state and find out where your polling place is. You might also want to research the local candidates and issues before the next election.
Before You Go – Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
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FAQs – Can You Buy A House In Another State Without A Job There?
What are the benefits of buying a house in another state without a job there?
Buying a house in another state without a job there can have some benefits, such as:
- Take advantage of the current real estate market trends, which favor buyers in many areas.
- Enjoy the perks of working remotely from anywhere, if your current or future employer allows it.
- Closer to your family, friends, or significant other in another state.
- Have a vacation home or an investment property in another state.
- Experience a new lifestyle and culture in another state.
What are the challenges of buying a house in another state without a job there?
Buying a house in another state without a job there can also have some challenges, such as:
- Difficulty getting a mortgage, since lenders will want to see proof of income and employment stability.
- Pay higher interest rates or fees, or make a larger down payment, to qualify for a mortgage.
- You may have to do most of the home-buying process remotely, which can be complicated and risky.
- Deal with different real estate laws, taxes, and closing costs in another state.
- You may have to adjust to a different cost of living and lifestyle in another state.