Buying a House Long Distance
Let’s say you’re stationed overseas, but now your PCS orders have come in, and guess what? You’re heading stateside. You can’t wait months for base housing to open up in your new area. Oh, and Junior wanted that cute wiggly puppy for his birthday that you swore looked like a lab but grew into a lovable Pit Bull. Good luck putting your family in a rental. Pitties aren’t allowed on military bases, and most rental managers won’t have them either. So, it looks like you’ll take advantage of your VA Home Loan benefit and purchase a home while you’re still a few thousand miles away.
How crazy is it to buy a house sight unseen?
Buying a house before ever setting foot inside isn’t as far-fetched as you might think when you consider that today’s user-friendly technology has changed consumer purchasing habits — from buying a pair of jeans online to property. Moreover, the current real estate market is extra competitive with inventory shortages in many areas. So, waiting to be in the same physical space as the house you want is not always possible, especially for military personnel who can’t exactly afford to physically house hunt from one coast to another, much less another country. Covid-19 precautions also helped pave the way to finesse long-distance or sight-unseen home purchases. In other words, purchasing a home using available technology is no longer uncommon. And as long as you follow these tips, you’ll go a long way toward making the home-buying process a virtual success.
Move quickly by using online sources
Buying property in today’s market often means moving quickly, and not having to make an appointment to see the property in person offers you some real advantages. Once you’ve decided on an area, you can find homes for sale using various websites, including realtor.com, trulia.com, and zillow.com. You can browse homes using 3D virtual walkthroughs and even check out whole neighborhoods using Google Street View. Note that Street View often lets you see subjects during different months and years. So, viewing the property in full summer bloom and bare winter might be possible.
To see an even broader scope of the neighborhood you’re interested in, use Google Map’s Satellite View option to spot nearby parks, bodies of water, commercial areas, schools, churches, and even toll roads. In addition, these online tools can help you compute commute times or how long it takes to get to the nearest grocery store.
Get a preapproval letter
Unless you’re paying all cash for a home, a seller won’t give your offer a second look without a lender’s preapproval letter. Far more effective than a prequalified letter is the preapproval. Your VA-approved lender will verify your financial history, including your income, debts, assets, employment, and credit score. Your preapproval letter will contain the amount, the type of loan the lender will offer, and the terms.
Your real estate agent will need to see your preapproval letter to know your price range so they can direct you to home listings within your budget.
Download your free VA Mortgage Guide.
Are you ready to take the first step towards homeownership? This comprehensive booklet is filled with expert advice and helpful tips to guide you through the VA Home Loan program and the homebuying process. From understanding your benefits to finding the right home, our guide covers it all. Don’t wait – click below to download your copy now and start your journey towards homeownership!
Use an experienced real estate agent
Enlist the help of a trusted real estate agent with experience in serving the needs of military families and who is proficient in the latest technology. This is no time to ask your mother-in-law’s best friend, who has a real estate license but who can’t navigate a Facetime call to help you search for a house thousands of miles away. Instead, you want an agent who can quickly and virtually transport you into any home you’re interested in with the latest software that lets you inspect every nook and cranny while sipping your morning coffee in your comfy pants.
But a real estate agent who caters to military families goes beyond showing them 3D images. After all, you might get an excellent sense of what the house and yard look like through a 3D walkthrough, but it’s more challenging to get a sense of the local vibe through a virtual tour. That’s where an agent’s experience with military families and their particular needs comes into play. A good agent will educate the online military buyer on their options and what to expect in a market with which the buyer is likely unfamiliar. So, along with the standard home inspections and the general home-purchasing process, the experienced agent will also inform the potential buyer about what to expect around the military base. For example, maybe there are better schools 15 miles from the base, so looking at neighborhoods five minutes away might not be the best decision. An experienced agent will consider your family’s lifestyle when helping you choose a community.
Also, a VA-experienced real estate agent will help you find a VA-qualified home that meets specific requirements, including functioning electric, heating, and cooling systems, lead-free paint, and working sewage and sanitation.
Make adequate time for the paperwork at the virtual closing
You found your new house, the seller accepted your offer, you’ve secured your loan, and now it’s time to seal the deal.
You’ll sign purchase agreements and other closing documents virtually. Afterward, your lender will wire your funds, completing the purchase.
That’s the simple version. The reality, however, is a bit more involved. For instance, if you’re overseas or across the country, you’ll want to give your agent a real estate power of attorney. The POA is a legal document granting the agent the right to purchase your home on your behalf during a limited timeframe.
Also, you and your agent must be in synch, timewise. For instance, if your orders for a PCS give you a 90-day advance and a typical closing is 30 days, you and your agent need to coordinate closing dates and ensure that the sales contract and loan documents are all submitted on time. Plus, you might need to have your signature notarized on base, and depending on where you’re stationed, that could take some time. You can see how selecting the right agent who has experience with long-distance military buyers is necessary if you want to end up with a worry-free transaction