Having to relocate can be trying enough for anyone, single or family; but add on to that stress having to come up with a new place to live and it’s easy enough to realize that without a good handle on things it could be a real upheaval of your life.
The good news is that it doesn’t have to be that upsetting if you simply plan for things ahead of time and take the time to prepare and know what to expect.
Getting to Know the Area
The first thing you want to know is what’s available to you around the area and what the area has as far as attractions, needs, and much more. With today’s technology it’s so easy to acquire tons of information about the area you’re about to move to with checking a few certain online areas and a simple search in a search engine. First put the name of the city and state that you’re moving to, even if it’s a very small city. Chances are you will get at least a few hits even with some of the smallest of towns. Here are some places online that you want to check out and look for in order to get more information about the area and what to expect:
- The local Chamber of Commerce
- Local colleges & universities
- Local malls & shopping areas
- Local libraries
- Local radio stations
- Online newspapers
- Local churches & schools
- Local police department website (great for finding high crime areas that you obviously want to avoid buying or renting a home in) You can also call and ask what the crime rate is for certain areas that you are looking at and the police department can tell you what the crime rate is for that area specifically before you put in a bid.
Finding an Agent
Begin your search online simply looking at houses for sale. You will begin to get an idea of what neighborhoods are “within your budget” by taking note of certain pricing on houses and then mapping where those homes are located. With the glories of today’s technologies you can even see the home and homes around it online without ever driving to the location! Once you’ve begun to see the homes available you will also start seeing agent names coming up, some more often than others.
Once you start finding agents and agencies that come up often for your town it’s time to start making phone calls and doing some “interviews” over the phone. Some things you want to find out:
- Ask who is responsible for paying the agent for their duties. You’re probably going to want to prefer an agent that works as a Buyer’s Agent for you while getting their commission by sharing the sale profits with the selling agent to save money; meaning you pay no extra commission fees. However this also means that the will want to sell the home for a little more in order to make a larger commission.
- Ask the agent what their protocol is for working with a buyer. Do they have a buyer’s broker agreement? If so, ask them for a copy of the agreement before signing it.
- Ask the agent what their protocol is for working with other local agents. Do they work within the community as a whole and have a good working relationship with other agencies or do they basically work to sell only what they’re listing?
- Find out exactly who the agent will be representing. Ask them this question direct. In cases here they have a home listed they’re representing the seller and they will be representing you. In a case like this it is their job to assure both parties get the best possible deal and in some cases by law they cannot represent both. Find out ahead of time how they handle these situations, etc.
Laws Limiting Information From Realtors
The Federal Fair Housing Laws often prevent Realtors/Agents from giving you information such as local churches, “classes of families” such as an upper class neighborhood or lower class neighborhood specifically (although this can usually be obvious by pricing), ethnic make-up of an area, schools, school rankings, and some other information that you often want to know when you’re moving into a neighborhood. For example if you are of a certain religious background and the city is large enough to have areas where larger areas where certain religions seem to live you may feel more comfortable living amongst others that you have in common with people of your religion. However, your agent cannot tell you “Oh this is area has a large number of Jewish families or Muslim families or Italian Catholic families” due to laws. However, if you can find places of worship online you can call and ask for guidance where you may fit in well with others who may practice your religion.
So don’t get angry with an agent if they can’t answer certain questions that truly are important to your living comforts based upon laws that were created to alleviate any type of hate crimes or discrimination against certain ethnicities or religions. Remember these laws were set in place to protect people. Instead go directly to the sources that you are looking for and ask where they may recommend that others with similar interests may live, etc. It’s completely understandable that you would prefer to live in a community with people who are much like you and your family and celebrate the same types of holidays, etc.
Knowing the Area
You will want to ask the agent certain things about the neighborhoods but you have to ask these questions so that they can answer them. Know whether you want a “new construction” or “newer” home or if you prefer an older home. Each has its negatives and positives and it really all comes down to what you prefer. A local agent has very intimate knowledge regarding their area and depending upon how you ask the questions they can answer some things with their intimate knowledge that can be a wealth of information without giving straight answers that could get them into trouble. Collecting the information listed below you can judge for yourself where the older and newer homes are located, where the lower priced houses usually are and therefore the type of income levels that tend to buy there, if it’s a hot selling area with a lower DOM (Days On Market) or if there are homes that are on the market for longer periods of time there may be a reason. You can surmise a lot of information about a neighborhood from the information gathered below.
To find out more about the particular neighborhoods ask the agent:
- To get you a list-to-sales average price ratio printout.
- For a CMA (Comparable Market Analysis) for neighborhoods you may be interested in.
- A breakdown of where new home construction is going on and where older homes tend to be located.
- A break down to help you determine average-per-square-foot price to determine exactly what the difference is when comparing the price by square foot of homes from one area to another.
- What is the current market situation in this particular area? Is it a buyer’s market, a seller’s market or a neutral market? This will help you to determine pricing and how to make an offer.
- Average Days-On-Market for the homes listed for various areas.
Simply taking a few steps to check things out to get to know the area and get informed and comfortable with an agent can help alleviate a lot of the stress of relocating to a new area. Take the move on as if you’re a tourist first, finding out what the town has to offer and then delve a little deeper to see what amenities it offers its citizens.