2020 has definitely become a year for the record books and one we will be talking about for decades. We are all making adjustments to life and learning new ways of doing things, however, I do look forward to the day we can get back to the coffee shops and socializing more freely again.
Early in my career I was relocating as part of a training program and one year I lived in 3 states and spent the rest of my career as a heavy traveler in the Technology market. I understand the stress that comes with relocating and how will I accomplish this without moving twice and stretching out the move to the point of exhaustion!
Now fast forward life as a Realtor helping families find home in Northern Virginia as stress free and successfully as possible. Northern Virginia is a large and diverse region, typically considered to span 4 counties (Loudoun, Fairfax, Prince William, Fauquier) and 6 cities (Alexandria, Arlington, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, Manassas Park) measuring approximately 1,986 square miles. Navigating the region can seem daunting to those arriving in the region but like any relocation, it is just a matter of perspective.
Recently I had the opportunity to help a young couple realize a dream of home ownership by relocating from Tennessee to South Carolina, yes, I can assist with referrals in other regions with great agents! 2020 brings a different perspective on the old adage to Live Where We Work and has changed to Work Where We Live. This is not a foreign concept for many of us but has become a new option to others to reduce living expenses and/or allow us to live in a region we only dreamed about before remote working became a possibility.
Beginning Your Search
Your first decision is whether or not you plan to purchase a home or rent for a period of time to become acquainted with the new location. Visiting the city and becoming familiar with it is ideal but there are online options that can assist as well. Here are a few sites to review in becoming familiar with your new city:
- Check out local county, tourism and chamber of commerce sites
- Follow a local news source
- Wikipedia and/or Census sites
- Review neighborhood associations and school ranking sites (even if you do not have school age children)
- Look at the local police department site and crime statistics
These sites will give you a fairly comprehensive view of your new city. A local Realtor will be bound by Fair Housing laws and limited in their ability to provide community information in your decision making process. This is the critical piece that requires your participation.
Finding a Real Estate Agent
Finding an agent in a new location does not have to be a challenge. Some look at agents who have professional websites, others look for agents with lots of “baseball stats” and others just go with the name of a friend of a friend or someone’s relative in the area.
Do any of these approaches help to match you with an agent who will meet your requirements, objectives and become someone you want to spend a great deal of time with?
Another approach is to engage with an agent who you know and trust who provides the service of referring clients in and out of other regions. Here is how I support clients leaving an area, not just Northern Virginia, in referring them to the city they are relocating to:
- Preparation – While the interview and short list process begins, it is your time to prepare for your purchase by gathering the documents that will be required by the local lender (as required) and considering a detailed list of your new home requirements. Your trusted agent will supply these two lists for you to help in preparing.
- Short List – The referring agent will reach into their referral network of known agents and also reach out to the brokers of market centers where they may not have performed business in the past to compile a short list of up to 5 qualified agents. These agents should represent varying levels of experience, backgrounds and personalities; afterall, this is about matching them to you.
- Interview – Once a short list has been compiled, video conference interviews begin with the candidates with regards to their business, processes and the client as a potential fit. I ask the same questions to all of the candidates specifically to see how they describe each response to give me insight into their persoanlity and approach to their business and clients.
- Client Selection – At this point, you the client should review the candidates with links to the same information on each candidate (e.g., LinkedIN profile, website, Facebook page) to review and garner who do you gravitate towards before discussing detailed interview findings and making a selection.
- Introductions and Closure – As intimidating as this may sound to the recieving agent, I sit in on the first video conference of the buyers consultation to ensure a smooth transition as I step back and exit the buying process. The closure that should also be provided is a follow-up phone call to the agents that did not get selected. This does not sound like an enjoyable portion of the job but can be rewarding as very few perform this follow-up and it can lead to life long connections.
- Follow-up – The agent usually provides updates weekly, or as appropriate depending upon the speed of the process. It is no longer my role to guide my previous client but to provide a trusted resource to pose questions and relay joyful news!
There is no doubt we are in changing times and a hot seller’s market, however, it is possible to relocate and purchase a home with a good agent, trust, cooperation and commitment to work together.
The young couple at the heart of this story is my nephew. He phoned me on Monday August 17th and by:
- Thursday we were having their buyers consultation with their new agent
- Thursday August 27th they had a ratified contract for their first home, sight unseen with multiple contracts
- August 29th-30th they toured the home and met the agent face-to-face for the first time
- The agent handled the home inspections from there over video
- Wednesday September 30th, 6 Weeks later, they closed on their First Home in their New City!
Key elements to success is working with an agent who:
- Knows the region well
- Is an experienced professional
- Detailed oriented, proactive and a great communicator
- Treats their clients like family, not transactions
And for you to be:
- Prepared and decisive
- Committed to the process
- Responsive, keep the ball in someone else’s court
There were a few ups and downs during the process but as I tell buyer clients, “You cannot win if you don’t play” and you can achieve success as fast as you like – How bad do you want it? Did I mention this young couple also had a 5 day weekend wedding in Gatlinburg, which I attended, and my new niece also started a new job! There was a lot of change during the month of September and a lot of work making the success all that much better enjoyed!
I am always honored to support clients achieve their dreams of home as well as being viewed as that person who can make things happen stress free! This story would not have been made possible without the support of the agent on the receiving side who did the real work, Clara Lang.
How can I support your relocation and purchase?
If you have questions about how to approach the market, lenders, interest rates, the process and where to begin, let’s talk through your questions – Information is King!
I look forward to supporting you soon!