How to Buy a House When Living in a Different State

Always visit out-of-state homes in person before purchasing.

Always visit out-of-state homes in person before purchasing.

Whether you're buying a home out of state because you're moving or you're seeking investment property, it pays to do your research before proceeding. Home ownership takes time and effort, and buying an out-of-state home creates additional complications. Most real estate companies say you should always buy in areas in which you are familiar, and you should visit the house before purchasing the property. Online or printed listings can be outdated, and an in-person visit can prevent many unpleasant surprises. Take your time and conduct a thorough research before buying an out-of-state home.

Choose several states or areas to consider for your home purchase. Research the area in which you wish to purchase a home. Investigate the area's demographics, employment potential, school system, crime rate and weather. Narrow your choices down by areas that have the lowest crime rates, best school systems and lowest unemployment rate to create a final list of homes with good value and high potential investment or resale potential.

Schedule a trip to the local under consideration. Visit each home to ensure that it matches the online description or pictures. Photograph homes using a digital camera so that when you return home, you can review the pictures instead of relying on your memory. Research property taxes and zoning laws to ensure that you can afford the taxes and that the potential use of the property is allowed if you're considering it as an investment property.

Determine what services are available in the area. Inquire about garbage pickup, water, sewer, Internet, and cable television services. Find out what local companies must be hired if town services such as garbage pickup are not available.

Schedule a home inspection. Call home inspection companies and choose one based on best rates and highest level of experience. Review home inspection reports and note anything that may be called into negotiations during the offer and acceptance period, such as termite damage or out-of-date wiring that may need to be replaced before the purchase is confirmed.

Evaluate all potential costs of purchasing the home before making an offer, including possible investments in upgrading the home, repairing or replacing appliances, closing and insurance costs. Apply for a mortgage. Prepare the necessary paperwork and financial forms. Call insurance companies to receive estimates on homeowner's insurance.

Contact and interview an attorney in the location where you plan to purchase the home. Confirm that he or she is familiar with local real estate laws. Ask whether the attorney has a title researcher to ensure the property's title is clear and free of leans. Make an offer on the house either directly to the seller, or through a real estate agent or your attorney.

Items you will need

  • Property listings
  • Attorney admitted to the bar in the state where you are purchasing property
  • Property management company
  • Inspection company


  • Always work with professionals based in the state in which the property is located. Attorneys, real estate agents and inspection companies know local laws, building codes and potential hazards.
  • Never purchase out-of-state property sight unseen. Always inspect potential homes in person. Photographs found online can be manipulated to make a home look better or may be out of date.


  • Be sure to consult a qualified professional, such as an attorney, real estate agent, insurance broker or accountant for advice related to real estate and home purchases.

About the Author

Jeanne Grunert has been a writer since 1990. Covering business, marketing, gardening and health topics, her work has appeared in the "Chicken Soup for the Soul" books, "Horse Illustrated" and many national publications. Grunert earned her Master of Arts in writing from Queens College and a Master of Science in direct and interactive marketing from New York University.

Photo Credits

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