Sometimes shopping for a new home when you have to PCS has to be from the comfort of your current home.
In the past, we couldn't visit or walk through houses because my husband was deployed. LOL military life, amiright!?
Taking a weekend trip, by myself, to go house shopping with two small kids in an unfamiliar city sounds like one of the seven levels of hell.
Sometimes there isn’t enough time or money to take a few days off, fly/drive, and look for a house.
We bought our first house without stepping foot in it, rented our other house from the 7 pictures that were available on the internet, and did a quick walk through of a condo minutes before signing a lease.
Everywhere we lived beautiful and safe and I just hope we get as lucky for our next duty station OR!!! the stars will line up, we get enough money in the bank, a week lasts 10 days, and we’ll have the chance to actually VISIT a house before we move into it.
FaceTime/Skype is your friend. With technology and smartphones, the majority of people are plugged into their phone at some part of their day. If you are unable to physically visit, virtually visit a house. If you have an excellent relationship with your realtor, FaceTime them as they walk you through the house. Ask them to do close ups to see certain details, but you can also get a good sense of room size from FaceTime. We bought our house with a video that our realtor uploaded to YouTube. I don’t know if property managers FaceTime walk throughs for rented property.
Consider other resources. I used Zillow and the Army Housing Rental Network (AHRN) to find our rental property, but it wasn’t enough information for me. So I used county MLS websites, city websites, school websites, and even tried to google the property floor plans (it didn’t work). I used Google Maps to check out the neighborhood and the surrounding area, but sometimes that’s not up to date, especially in a new construction area.
Keep in mind the school district. I’m not saying this because I’m a teacher. I’m also not saying this because all I’ve been doing for the past year is researching student achievement, diversity, and home culture. But, in general, the better the school district is, the better the surrounding area.
Check with the police. Call the non-emergency phone number of the police department and give them your address or your potential address and ask about the activity around the area.
Have a few options. Have a back up and a back up to your back up. Things happen. For example, we were going to sell our house in North Carolina, we got an offer, the buyers signed the papers, all I had to do what sign the papers and the house was theirs. Something happened and we had to back out, luckily the other family had a back up. Thank goodness too, because I still feel terrible not being able to sell them our house.
Check your credit, check your funds, and get a Scanner App for your phone. We were in a minor battle for the house we’re renting now. Another family did a walk through of the house and was thinking about renting. The property manager called me and told me another family was interested, I scanned the application and sent the deposit a few minutes after I hung up the phone. You may not be at home or by a scanner when the relator or property manager needs something from you.
Download apps to your phone. I had Zillow, Trulia, and Realtor.com App on my phone. Those websites refresh every 20ish minutes or so. I set my preferences in the app and it alerted me whenever a house was available that met what I wanted. It also let me know that the houses that I was interested in weren’t available anymore.
I’m thankful that smartphones and websites make shopping for a home relatively easy. Buying or renting a home is stressful. Buying and renting a home that you can’t visit is even more so. I hope these few tips help alleviate any stress.
Have you ever moved? What are some tried and true tips that you swear by to make a move easier?