Just like thousands of others each year, you’re contemplating a move to Florida. Perhaps you’re just looking for a change of pace or climate, or your current job has offered to transfer you, or your new career is taking you to the Sunshine State.
If you currently own a home in another state and want to buy one in Florida, or if you were a renter but want to jump right in and purchase a home in your new destination, you’ve got lots of work to do before you move. Buying a home in your new place of residence can be quite exciting, of course, but it can be very challenging as well, so below we’ve offered some guidelines to make the transition a little smoother.
Locate a reputable real estate agent – When you’re looking for a Realtor out-of-town, you’re often relying on the referrals of others or solely on a phone interview with the Realtor in consideration. If you do indeed have friends or family in the new location, ask them to send you information on Realtors they’ve used and with whom they’ve been pleased. If you are relocating due to work, chances are your company will provide you with a name or names of Realtors they deem reputable and hard-working.
If you’re on your own to find someone, don’t hesitate to use the web to find Realtors who have garnered good reviews with previous clients. It’s okay to interview more than one or two potential Realtors until you find one you believe fits your style. You’ll also want to make sure that person is readily available. That’s because, as is often the case with those relocating, you’ll probably have a limited window of opportunity to visit and shop for homes. If the Realtor only works part-time in their field, for example, they may not be able to accommodate your needs.
Also ask questions that allow you to determine how well the Realtor knows the area and perhaps how familiar they are with relocation moves, especially if you are involved in a job transfer. If you don’t feel comfortable with the answers, move on to the next candidate.
Research, research, research – Thanks to the internet, you can find out a whole lot more about your new home/destination than you could before we had the worldwide web…and with just the click of a few buttons. So spend some time in front of your computer screen and gather information about neighborhoods in your new town. Look for school reports if you have children who will be attending school there, and also gather or peruse maps to determine proximity to the things that are important to you, like supermarkets, malls, banks, hospitals, etc. If you are moving to a large city, you can often find neighborhood guides through the tourism department of that town, or a local Chamber of Commerce may also be able to help you do some preliminary research. Of course, your Realtor should also be able to provide you with the information you can review about neighborhoods in your new town. It’s helpful to at least have an idea of where you want to be before you arrive – it helps the Realtor schedule appropriate showings - though it’s perfectly okay to change your mind once you see the neighborhood in person.
New or previously owned – Give some thought to whether you prefer a resale or new construction and, if the latter is your preference, be sure to focus on neighborhoods in which that new construction is indeed available. Balance the pros and cons of each and determine which might be right for you. Again, ask your Realtor about pricing for new construction and whether it’s a wise idea for your budget AND your schedule. Sometimes good deals can be had on “spec” properties or even models that are being sold fully furnished, which is sometimes ideal for those relocating. They can make finding a house quick and easy.
Schedule your house hunting trip – Unless you are retired or have lots of time on your hands, the chances are that traveling out of state for the purpose of buying a new home might include limited time. As soon as you know your available dates, talk to your Realtor to coordinate your schedules. Once the dates are determined, let your Realtor know that you want to make the most of your visit and allow him/her to fill up your schedule with plenty of showings. It might seem overwhelming at first, but if you leave without seeing all you planned to see yet still make a purchase decision, you will always have that thought in the back of your mind that perhaps you would have gone in a different direction if only you had the chance to see so-and-so.
Have a plan of action in mind – the chances are that you may have to tend to some other things while you’re in town, so – along with your Realtor – make a plan before you get there. Also, ask the Realtor to organize information for you to take home if you don’t plan to make a decision while you’re still there. Pictures, spec sheets, sample utility bills – all of those things can ultimately help you decide between one house and another. It’s also helpful to have video you can view to help you remember the house once you return home.
Also note that if your spouse or whoever it is that shares your home are unable to make the trip, you should organize a Facetime, Skype, or another video call with them during showings, if possible so that they can take a look, too. You don’t need to do this with every home you see, but if you are particularly keen about a listing, pick up the phone and show him/her around. This way, your partner left behind will feel included in the process.
Take notes – Again, your trip is likely to be a whirlwind of information so you’ll need to do what is required to keep everything fresh in your mind so that you can make the right decision. Hopefully, your Realtor will have organized folders or files for each property you see. Also, when you leave each property, make notes about the house IMMEDIATELY so that you don’t forget what your reaction was to the home. (A good time to do this is in the car between showings.)
We hope these tips will assist you as you begin to think about your out-of-state move. Taking these into consideration can certainly turn a stressful time into a more manageable – and even enjoyable – task! If you are moving to Florida and have never owned a home then read our tips on first-time home buying. Before you know it, you’ll be basking in the sun in your new Florida home.