Buying and Selling - where to even begin?

kellienoelleAugust 26, 2012

My husband and I are considering relocating for employment reasons, but want to know how feasible this is before we get in to deep. We have a house that would need to be sold in one city, then would obviously need to purchase a home in our new city. I know this is done a hundred times a day by others, but is new to us, so feels a bit overwhelming at this point. So, my question to you all, how to even get started in this process?

I have done a bit of research on what is on the market in our current neighborhood, I have narrowed down the area of where we would like to begin the job hunt in the new city. I think our housing market is "soft" but not horrible like many of the harder hit areas, but I have no way of knowing this for certain. Again, I have looked at "comparables" and we fare better in some areas but worse in others. But let's face it, nobody is really objective when it comes to pricing their own home. Do I call a RSA to come out and take a look and give us a rough estimate for list price and more information on the current state of the market? I would hate to waste their time if we are just going to come to the conclusion that this "elective" relocation is just not going to work out. But without this information, I don't know how to make an educated decision. A house on our street, about 4 houses up went on the market last week for a very nice price, now its status is listed as "backup" which leads me to believe that they must have already received an offer. If that is the case, pretty nice turnaround so I could always call that agent since she worked well for them. But again, would that be wrong since I am mostly at the fact gathering stage?

I am not completely new to buying and selling. I sold a townhouse and bought this house about 8 years ago, moving about 5 miles down the road. This was obviously a much easier scenario in much more favorable conditions.

Can you tell I am a bit paralyzed here? Can you help?

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Well, I probably answered my own question. I called to talk to the REA for the house up the street and was 100% honest with her about possibly listing and being on a bit of a fact finding mission at this point. She said "that is what she does" so no problems with potentially wasting her time (my words). She is also a resident of this neighborhood, so wouldn't be too put out to walk over and give us an honest assessment.

And the house up the street was under contract the day after listing. The market has been strong with the low interest rates. All good news.

Now I guess what is needed for next step is to nail this job interview this week.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 12:39PM
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The one recommendation I would make is to NOT buy a house in the new town. The exception is if you already know the new town really well (eg. you grew up there). Rent first to make sure the job is going to work out and you have time to get to know the new town. Renting will also give you time to shop for your future home calmly and rationally. You will have time to go to open houses and learn a lot about that market.

Yes, renting and moving twice isn't fun, but being stuck with a house that turns out to be on a "bad" street or being stuck in that town when the job doesn't work out is a much worse situation to be in.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 2:06PM
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Good advice and certainly makes the situation seem less daunting. I would hate to feel so rushed that I needed to pick just anywhere because I was under a time crunch. This would be a completely new city for both my husband and I (Denver, Co), one that we have only visited on a few occasions. Although I wonder how easy it would be to find a place willing to rent to people with 2 dogs and 2 cats!

What about capital gains taxes, don't you need to roll that into a new property soon after selling (assuming of course that we will have a gain)

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 3:00PM
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No, that was the old law re. cap gains. Google it.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 4:44PM
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If this isn't a transfer within the same company, then you will not qualify for a home loan for a couple of years after changing jobs. Lenders want to see job stability in order to lend to you. If you would be in the same field, but with a different employer, they are more lenient about loan applications than they would if you changed professions and locations.

Now, if you would net enough from your home sale to pay cash in another location, that's another story entirely. Frankly, renting for a while in a city also makes sense, so you might also be OK with renting for a couple of years before buying.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 4:47PM
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Well, shoot, lots of moving parts here, it all really does seem overwhelming to think about. I hadn't even considered the possibility of having difficulty getting a home loan. Here is what would "ideally" happen. I would change employers but would roughly have the same job (I am a Nurse Practitioner, so it is a pretty stable job field at least). My husband has asked his company if he could do his job out of a different location, and work mostly from home. Still waiting for the final OK on that.

We are moving from a location with housing prices much below the national average (Kansas City) to one with prices higher than the national average (Denver). I am anticipating that the house we purchase there will be almost double the cost of what we sell our house for here. Fortunately because home prices are relatively low here, we do have a bit of equity in our current house. This will get us a decent down payment of 20%, but no way would we be paying cash.

A lot of things are going to have to fall into place to make this happen. And if it doesn't, certainly is looking like it would be much easier (and more fiscally responsible) to just stay put. But I would regret it if I didn't even look into the opportunity.

    Bookmark   August 26, 2012 at 8:23PM
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I would put the pros and cons of moving to Denver (or any other city) down and then evaluate them. Denver is a changeling city, does have some very interesting weather, and traffic. Would I live there? NO. Have you really looked into jobs? Are there jobs avaiable? I have relatives in that area but they live in a smaller town and do not go to Denver much. Heavy traffic. Many people do live outside the city and drive in. But this is typical of many big cities. Are there other cities you might consider. Just a few things for a person to consider.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 1:43PM
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It is for a job opportunity that I am considering the move. I don't HAVE the job, but am interviewing for it. I kind of want to know if a move is even feasible before I get too invested in the process. I would hate to find a position that would be perfect only to have the disappointment of not being able to make it work logistically later. Obviously, this may all be a moot point if I don't get an offer, if the job isn't as great as I am thinking it might be, if my husband's company won't let him relocate, if there is no possible way to see the house, etc, etc, etc. Thus the reasons for trying to do a bit of research ahead of time (and the overwhelmed feeling because it seems to be quite a bit to coordinate). Before doing anything we would obviously make the trek out there to try to view it from a resident (rather than a vacationers) eyes. And next house, I have sworn to myself, will be closer to the city. I am tired of suburban living. I know I will have something smaller and older, and that sounds just fine by me.

As far as other cities, other cities are not where I am interviewing. I have a list of tons of places that I would be willing to check out for a possible relocation. My husband, not so much. Denver is probably currently one of the very few cities that he would be willing to consider.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 2:05PM
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It is quite a bit to coordinate and can be overwhelming, but lots of people do this and some do it many times!! I've done it, going overseas and then returning to a different part of the States. Don't let logistics stop you from making a move that might be good for your career and family.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 6:44PM
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I agree with chispa. Don't let this stop you. The selling, moving, renting/buying will be worth it if you're happy and it helps your career. It's a lot of work, stressful, and frustrating to coordinate it all. I've done it a few times and am happy about it. You should be okay to buy relatively quickly once you get to your new city, have a few paystubs to show and decide what area is best. We moved last year and closed on our house within 45 days...same career field but new company. Renting before buying in a new city is a good idea though.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 7:03PM
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Fori is not pleased

I've done it (but before the banks got all paranoid). And yeah, renting first and house shopping from there would be better. But we didn't. Pets. Bleh. It worked out both times but renting would have made things easier.

Perhaps you can check with lenders and see if there would be an issue with that. If DH keeps the same job, it might not even be a concern.

But Denver is wonderful! Good luck whatever you do.

    Bookmark   August 27, 2012 at 8:20PM
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Green Designs wrote:
"If this isn't a transfer within the same company, then you will not qualify for a home loan for a couple of years after changing jobs."

Not so... speak to a lender before getting too involoved.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 7:18AM
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Thanks for the reassurance. This is what I have kept repeating to myself..."lots of people before you have done this, if they can do it, so can you". Right now I am just staying busy (way way way too busy) doing some minor house touch ups in prep for the REA to come on Friday, and trying (unsuccessfully) not to stress about it too much). Parts of our house are nicely updated (the part of all of this that kicks me where it hurts the most is that we just remodeled our kitchen this year after years of saving), but others, not so much. Our list of "to dos" is growing every day. If things look as if they are moving forward I am sure I will solicit some information regarding listing. I have been poking around here and it certainly is an education (cleaning window tracks with a q-tip? who would have thought of that).

Regarding the loan, not to speak of money too much, I know that banks are being a bit more paranoid lately but I hope that we would be OK. Our current house is way under what we could potentially qualify for, my husband will be same job for many years, our credit score is quite good, we are pretty fiscally conservative (saving for purchases so we carry no credit card debt). I am not opposed to renting for a bit, and can see how it would be a good idea, but I do worry about finding a rental willing to accept all the pets. Time will tell I suppose!

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 8:31AM
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People relocate all the time, so it's certainly feasible. I've relocated for work 4 times (soon to be 5), and it's a bit of a pain, but exciting as well, to have a whole new place to get to know. Not sure how it works in your industry, but a lot of companies have relocation packages to ease the financial strain of selling and buying a home, etc.

I'd recommend taking a long weekend or two--after you've decided the job is a good fit and they've offered it to you--to explore the city a little more, including the housing. Get a knowledgeable realtor to help you figure out what part(s) of town would suit you best, and do a lot of driving around. That's a combination of proximity to work, what you like being around (downtown vs. suburban, etc.), and your price range. Explore the rental possibilities as well.

Go shopping, go out to eat, go to something cultural, go to church, meet with a school principal if you've got kids, hang out in a park. All these can give you a feel for the vibe of the city.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 9:08AM
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"then you will not qualify for a home loan for a couple of years after changing jobs."

Depends on how much you are putting down and your longer term work history.

    Bookmark   August 28, 2012 at 3:47PM
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I have never lived in the suburbs and I like it that way. Cities are wonderful places to live for many people. For others, not so.

If you are going to a higher COLA, be very realistic about your new income and what lifestyle it will give you. There are always trade offs. I live in a high COLA area. When we have new hires from out of town, they tend to rent for a while. We have both city dwellers and suburbanites. If you make a mistake in the neighborhood in a city, it ican be expensive to buy and sell or you have to accept less than an ideal location. I think getting to know a city takes a while. City neighborhoods have more definite/extreme characters that may or may not work for you. Suburbs are more predictable in terms of school districts, house values, shopping etc. cities are more extreme which can be both good or bad.

Good luck with your job

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 2:35AM
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Good point about the mistakes being bigger in a place with a higher cost of living. The thought of spending close to double for a new house is certainly something that makes you want to be really sure you are moving to the right location since it would be a much bigger mistake financially. Plus, if we did decide to rent for a few months, it would certainly take a very large stressor out of the equation.

We had a REA come by tonight, and it was a very positive meeting. I really liked her, she actually lives in the neighborhood (oddly enough she has actually sold our house before). She brought over info on all the neighborhood houses that are listed or have been listed in the past 6 months, told us about each one, why some sold quickly, why some weren't selling. The days on the market varied from 1 day to close to a year. She said that you have people who watch the neighborhood so when something good is listed they jump on it right away. In fact the house on my street sold pretty much as soon as she put the sign in the yard. Somebody came up and asked if they could take a look, then made a full price offer. The listing price for mine she threw out was right in line with what I was thinking, she said she thought it would sell quickly, and she didn't give us a laundry list of things that had to be updated prior to listing. I actually had such a list and a few she agreed with (new carpet) but several she said don't bother (painting trim upstairs). None of this is a guarantee that the house will sell quickly of course, but it was a very reassuring meeting anyway.

Now I just need to hear back from the interview I had yesterday!

    Bookmark   August 31, 2012 at 10:39PM
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