Moving is not for the meek. Of all the scenarios in life, two of the most stressful are selling your house and relocating to another state. And unless you work from home in your jammies, you're probably also going to have a job or career change, a business readjustment and maybe a new mortgage to boot. Add all this up on the life stressors checklist, and you've hit the jackpot. It can be done, however, with careful planning — and when all settled in, enjoying your new friends and life, give yourself a pat on the back.
Before you invite a Realtor over for chitchat and coffee, you should probably know to which state you're moving. It's okay at this point to not have your new residence just yet, because you've got a lot of balls to juggle just getting out the door of your old one. Keep in mind that if you sell your current house before you sign for a mortgage in your new state, you could wind up being on the streets or shacking up in a temporary lodging place — with no place to put your household belongings. Then again, you may not qualify for a new mortgage while you're still in your old house. According to California Realtor Lee Dworshak for Realtor.com, the best case scenario — if you can afford it and if you qualify — is to get your new house and mortgage secured first. You may make payments on two houses for a short period of time, but you're paying for a bit of peace of mind, knowing that it will sort itself out soon enough. And you won't be homeless.
Let's say you sell your house, and have found your new house across state lines, but have no where to go for the two or three months it's going to take for escrow to close. If you can't afford to shell out money for two homes and a temporary rental, ask your new buyer if you can rent back the house from him. That's right, you just sold your house and now you're going to live in it for a short period of time — typically 60 to 90 days — and pay rent to the new owner, who will either move in after you're gone or rent it out again to new tenants. That way, you can get your act together and relocate to your new state within a more comfortable time frame.
If your new buyer won't agree to a rent back, try to get a bridge loan. A bridge loan, also known as a gap or swing loan, uses your current property as collateral to finance your new home purchase out of state. Bridge loans typically span a period of six months, and carry a higher interest rate than an average fixed-rate loan. You purchase your new home, then sell your old home and pay off both the old mortgage and the bridge loan. This is much more feasible in a robust housing market where the price of your home appreciates rapidly enough to cover the extra payments left on the old loan. The caveat is that your home must be lien-free and excellent credit is a must. You also must have enough income to qualify for your particular mortgage scenario.
Renting in the New State
You may want to consider renting in your new state after selling your house, so that you can look around for the best house and neighborhood. This option takes a little pressure off you. Or, you may want to move to a rental in the new state right off the bat, skip the hassle of open houses and let the Realtor handle the sale of the house in your absence. Extended stay hotels can be affordable alternatives, and nearly every city in America has storage facilities for your belongings.
Price to Sell
Regardless of how fast you need to get to your new state, or where you will live, price your home right for the current market in order to sell it quickly. You're starting a new life and your new employer would like you to be unencumbered by obligations you've left behind. Also remember that buyers want to want into a home that is clean and fresh-looking, so make sure your home is move-in ready when you leave. A new coat of paint, some freshly planted flowers and sparkling windows and counters go a long way in making a good first impression.
Elle Smith has been an advertising professional for more than 25 years. Her work for ABC, CBS and Sony Pictures Television has appeared on radio, on air, in print and outdoors. In addition, Smith has more than 20 years experience in marketing, graphic arts, commercial photography and print production, and is a licensed real estate agent with property management certification in California.