If you are facing an unexpected job transfer, a bit of planning can make relocation less stressful. Once the excitement of moving to a new city fades, panic can easily replace the excitement when you are hit with the realization that you do not know much about buying a home in the area.
Buying a home in an unfamiliar region in the Bay Area always comes with risk, and a bit of fear. Real estate laws vary by state, and local customs differ from one city to the next. When you move to a new area, it is easy to buy a home in the wrong neighborhood, or make other critical mistakes. Here is what you can do to protect yourself as you head into uncharted territory.
Do Research Online
Start your search online to find information on local housing in the Bay Area. You can start with city tourism sites, the local Chamber of Commerce and housing classifieds, and then narrow down your choices to specific neighborhoods in the Bay Area to learn more about amenities, features and crime rates.
Talk with Local Real Estate Agents
Local real estate agents are the best to turn to learn more about buying a home in your new destination. Be sure to interview several agents in the Bay Area and do your homework. This includes learning about agent protocol in the area, finding out who pays the real estate agent and finding out how closings are handled.
Learn About Disclosures and Inspections
Every state is different, so you should find out which disclosures you should receive and how inspections are typically handled in the area. In some states, sellers are not required to disclose certain facts to buyers. Be sure to ask:
- Is pest inspection part of the purchase agreement?
- Should I receive a report on environmental hazards?
- Who pays for the home inspection, and what types of repairs do sellers typically pay for?
- Do buyers normally ask for chimney, plumbing or septic inspections?
- Are surveys normally ordered?
Choosing a Neighborhood
Regardless of whether you plan to buy a new or existing home in the Bay Area, remember that agents often specialize in certain neighborhoods. This means you should find an agent who works in the area where you plan to buy. This is important, because an experienced agent can tell you differences between homes on the same street. Local agents also have detailed knowledge about the area that you will not get from anyone else.
Be sure to request recent comparable sales, average costs per square foot, average list-to-sales-price ratios and average days on market. You should also find out if the area is in a neutral, seller’s or buyer’s market so you know what you are getting into and you can be prepared for negotiations.