How to Buy a Home Remotely

As a real estate agent for Lake George and Bolton Landing – a large vacation home market – I frequently work with long-distance home buyers. In fact, for nearly 13 years I have been helping clients from downstate, as well as out-of-state, find their own piece of lake life here in the Southern Adirondacks.

Now, with the recent stay at home orders and travel restrictions, buying a home remotely is becoming even more of a necessity for those hoping to relocate or buy a vacation home. 

If you are in the market for a home outside your current city, here are my tips for long distance house hunting.

Choose Your Real Estate Agent Wisely

When buying a home in an unfamiliar city, you absolutely need an experienced real estate agent. This is not the time to sign with an agent who is just starting out because they are a relative or friend. You need a seasoned agent, preferably one who has experience with long distance relocation. Your agent should also specialize in the city you are interested in, be easy to reach, and good with technology (i.e, Facetime tours).   

Make a List of Must-Haves Features

This is an important step whether you are buying locally or hunting for a house hundreds of miles away, but it’s infinitely more important when you have the disadvantage of distance. You don’t want to waste time and energy previewing homes that don’t match your needs. Remember, you will be relying on a real estate agent to do a lot of the shopping for you, so be specific, and make sure he or she understands which features are mandatory and which are negotiable.

Determine Your Budget

Another crucial consideration with a long-distance house hunt is that the cost of living may be vastly different from where you are currently living. This make not big a big deal if you are relocating to area where the cost of living is less, but it can be an unwelcome surprise if it goes the other way. Make sure to research basic living costs, such as gas, groceries, restaurants and childcare in your new area, and factor this into your house buying budget. Your real estate agent will also able to provide you with some price guidance.   

Do Your Own Research

Remember, real estate agents are not legally allowed to answer questions like, “Is this neighborhood safe?” and “Is this school good?” So you’ll want to do your own research on the area you are considering. You can find plenty of information about a city – its housing market, livability scores, job market, schools, crime rate and cost of living – in the U.S. News & World Report, but local newspapers, blogs and guide books are also good resources. Google Maps is another useful tool for determining your potential new home’s proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, beaches or whatever is important to you.

Make a Plan for Visiting the Area

Ideally, it would be great if you could spend a week pursuing the area, finding the perfect property, and making an offer, but it’s just not the reality in most cases. House hunting can take months – I’ve even worked with clients for years to find the right place – which is why it’s important to work with your real estate agent to plan your visits efficiently. You may choose to visit once at the beginning of your search to get the lay of the land, and then again whenever your real estate agent finds a home you want to see in-person, or you may make the trip only twice for the home inspection and closing.

Don’t Panic

If a fast-moving market, or the inability to travel on short-notice, forces you to make an offer, or purchase a home, sight unseen – don’t panic, there are measures in place to protect you from making a mistake. For one, there is an attorney review period in New York State between when you go under contract and when you close. During this time, typically 5 business days in New York State, you can cancel the contract for any reason. Contingencies can also be added to the offer. For instance, some long-distance buyers make an offer contingent upon seeing the home in-person, inspections, appraisals or even selling their current home.

Lake George Long-Distance House Hunting Made Easy

With these tips and the technology available today, buying a home remotely is not only feasible, but easier than ever. If you are relocating your family to the Southern Adirondacks, or you have your heart set on a vacation home in Lake George or Bolton Landing, I’d love to help with your long distance house hunt.

  • Moving here? I know the nuances of one Adirondack town versus another, including which has the lowest taxes and which provides the most privacy.
  • Interested in buying a second home? I can tell you what to look for in considering one home versus another. I have contacts that can help make a second home purchase less worrisome.
  • Thinking of buying land to build? I know all the pluses and minuses to most of the land listings locally. I can save you time and money as you consider which lot to purchase.

Please contact me online or give me a call at (518) 321-1870. To learn more about my experience as a long-distance real estate agent for Lake George & Bolton Landing, please check out Lake George Long Distance House Hunting Made Easy