A Moving Experience: Buying a Home Long Distance

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Rosie and Casey were living overseas in Eastern Europe and nearing the end of their government posting there. They had sold their home before leaving the country nearly three years earlier and stored their belongings for the adventure. Now they were faced with the prospect of returning without a place to live other than the short time in a rental suite their employer offers. With no family in town and no friends close enough to ask, they reached out to us nervously. Their questions were many, and anxiety around planning and logistics was running understandably high. Like most, they had at their disposal a one week house hunting trip back home in the spring to secure living quarters for their summer return.

As daunting as it may seem, there is a tried and true method for purchasing a home in a week. But it takes planning and preparation. We work with more and more people every year in this scenario and laying the groundwork early is key. Our job? To gain a clear understanding of what the buyer knows and still needs to learn so we can fill in the information gaps. A complete picture enables a buyer to make a decision more easily, which is key when there is only a week! We also ensure all the pieces are lined up and ready for that trip: the mortgage broker or banker is prepared, an inspector is booked and our schedules are cleared to devote whatever time is needed. Education up front is key. Understanding representation, the process, the pace of the market and what the buyers need to bring along with them (for a deposit, for instance) are all discussed by phone beforehand.

The buyer has a job, too. Taking time in advance to ask the questions that are meaningful to them, researching neighbourhoods and schools as much as possible, even talking to friends and colleagues for input. Designating a friend or family member to attend open houses and report back can also be super helpful.

When that week arrives, it’s time to get down to business. The first day is planned before arrival and from there, we plan showings, change things on the fly, try to unearth a hidden gem or two and by Day 3, it’s time for second showings and decisions. Strong relationships with fellow realtors translates into quicker turnarounds, trust and smoother negotiations. In a case where offer dates are scheduled, it can be a juggling act, but always good to have a back up in mind. By week’s end, the inspection is completed and financing approval is well underway – if that hasn’t all been done earlier in the week under the duress of multiple offers.

It’s a whirlwind. There is stress. But there is also excitement. And in the event the right home hasn’t arrived in time, the relationship between realtor and buyer has become close-knit, making advice and decisions easier and more realistic from afar when the right one does come along.

Rosie and Casey spent their first day out with us, then took a day to explore neighbourhoods and attend open houses on their own while we gathered more information and recommendations for them. By Day three, they had secured a conditional sale and by the time it was wheels up back to eastern Europe, all they needed was the go-ahead from their mortgage broker, which came a day later. The best part for us? Seeing them again all moved in and loving their new home!

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