Mortgages & Home Loans Real Estate Resources Tips for Buying a Home in a New Area By Elizabeth Weintraub Elizabeth Weintraub Facebook Twitter Elizabeth Weintraub is a nationally recognized expert in real estate, titles, and escrow. She is a licensed Realtor and broker with more than 40 years of experience in titles and escrow. Her expertise has appeared in the New York Times, Washington Post, CBS Evening News, and HGTV's House Hunters. learn about our editorial policies Updated on November 29, 2021 Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Reviewed by Lea D. Uradu Lea Uradu, J.D. is graduate of the University of Maryland School of Law, a Maryland State Registered Tax Preparer, State Certified Notary Public, Certified VITA Tax Preparer, IRS Annual Filing Season Program Participant, Tax Writer, and Founder of L.A.W. Tax Resolution Services. Lea has worked with hundreds of federal individual and expat tax clients. learn about our financial review board Fact checked by Lakshna Mehta Fact checked by Lakshna Mehta Lakshna Mehta is a writer, editor, and fact checker. She received a Master of Arts in Journalism, a Bachelor of Journalism, and a Bachelor of Arts in International Studies from the University of Missouri. She has had the opportunity to write and edit for newspapers, magazines, and digital publications on a wide variety of topics. As a fact checker for The Balance, she verifies all facts with credible sources and updates data as needed. learn about our editorial policies Share Tweet Pin Email In This Article View All In This Article Begin Your Search Online Talk to Real Estate Agents Gather Data on Inspections and Disclosures Select Neighborhoods Photo: Elizabet Weintraub If a sudden job transfer is in your future, a little pre-planning can help make your relocation move less stressful. After the excitement of moving to a new city begins to fade, panic often replaces the initial exhilaration, especially when the realization hits that you might not know anything about buying a home in a new area. Buying a home in an unfamiliar area carries risks, and it can be scary. Real estate laws vary from state to state. Local customs can differ from one county to another. You don't want to make a home-buying mistake or buy in the wrong neighborhood for you. Plus, if you have a home to sell in order to buy a home, you want the timing to be perfect. The last thing you want to have happen is to pull up to your new home with the moving truck and be unable move in because of some silly mistake. So, how can you protect yourself? Begin Your Search Online Start an online search by entering keywords into Google, such as the name of the city, along with "information" or "housing." Here are tips for your search: Look at the tourism sites for the city.Check with the local chamber of commerce.Go to the website of the major city newspaper to follow metro news and housing classifieds.Look up the nearby university and college websites.If you've narrowed your choices to specific neighborhoods, search "name of the neighborhood" plus "neighborhood association."Go to the local police department's website to check crime stats. Talk to Real Estate Agents Real estate agents can be a wealth of information. Here are the next steps to take: First, find a real estate agent. You will be better protected if you hire an experienced agent who has worked with relocating buyers. Interview several real estate agents. Some agents might claim to be neighborhood experts, but have no knowledge about the part of town where you want to move. Ask whom the agents represent, and request a copy of a buyer's broker agreement before you are asked to sign such a document. Find out the agent protocol for working with local agents. Is it OK, for example, to attend an open house without your agent? How often will your agent communicate with you? Determine who pays the real estate agent. (It could be you.) Talk to a title officer at a local title company about title policies and how closings are handled. Note The Federal Fair Housing Law may prevent real estate agents from giving you information about protected classes, which includes where churches are located, neighborhood school rankings, the ethnic makeup of neighborhoods, and other factors. Gather Data on Inspections and Disclosures Because every state is unique, find out how what types of disclosures you can expect to receive and which types of inspections are normally performed. Some states do not require that sellers disclose material facts to potential buyers. Here are questions to ask: Is it customary for buyers to receive reports on environmental hazards? If so, who pays for them?Are pest inspections generally part of the purchase contract?Who pays for home inspections? And what types of repairs do sellers cover? Your agent should be able to refer several inspectors to you.Do city laws govern the transfer of ownership and inspections?Do buyers in certain neighborhoods ask for chimney, plumbing or sewer/septic inspections?Are surveys typically ordered?How are taxes assessed? You want to make sure no that delinquent taxes remain unpaid, and compute accurate taxes for which you will be liable. Select Neighborhoods Whether you choose older or new homes—because agents tend to specialize in neighborhoods—hire an agent who works in the neighborhoods where you want to buy. A neighborhood agent can tell you the differences between homes, as sometimes homes across the street from each other can vary greatly in price. Local specialists have intimate knowledge about their areas that you won't get anywhere else. Ask for details on: Recent comparable sales. This is your best benchmark to avoid paying over the market for the home. Average cost per square foot. Break this down by price ranges and square-foot values. The larger the home, the cost per square foot may be lower. Average list-to-sales-price ratios. Days on market, or "DOM." This is important, because it could change your offer strategy. Are you moving in a seller's, buyer's, or neutral market? While buying a house in a new area can be tricky, using the above tips can help you have the best experience possible when it comes to getting settled in your new home. Was this page helpful? Thanks for your feedback! Tell us why! Other Submit Sources The Balance uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy. U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. "Housing Discrimination Under the Fair Housing Act."