Whether you are being transferred or have just decided it is time for a change, moving to a new and unfamiliar area can be a bit scary. You will need to find a very knowledgeable and experienced local Realtor in the area to help you find a place to live that meets your wants and needs.
When you are interviewing real estate agents, ask them what their services are for clients who are new to the area. With home values still high, you are paying a pretty penny for your new home. Find a Realtor who goes above and beyond to make that purchase more worth it and to help you feel more comfortable about the area.
Make a List
Make a list of your wants and needs in a home. Include the usuals, how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need. But, be sure to also include whatever else is important to you in a home (i.e. a large yard, corner lot, swimming pool, etc.). Next, start adding to the list what you are looking for in regard to the area you would like to live. This list can include how important it is to live close to your workplace. If certain medical facilities are important, you will want to live in close proximity. Let the Realtors know if you like more of a small-town feel or a city atmosphere. Ask about places of worship if that is important to you. If shopping is your jam, ask where the best places to live are that are close to an abundance of stores, boutiques or big box retail. If you are a foodie, ask where the most eclectic restaurants are. If schools are important, ask how or where to get the best information about schools.
One important factor to remember is that if you tell real estate agents that you would like to live in "a good neighborhood" or "a good school district," they shouldn't show you homes in areas that are "good" in their opinions. This is called steering and it is illegal. They can give you information about where to find crime rates in certain areas and where to research what you are looking for in a school district.
One service that real estate agents should offer to clients coming from different areas is a buyer's consultation. The real estate process is different in certain areas and states. For example, in some states, attorneys are common and in some they are not. Your Realtor should offer a phone, virtual meeting or in-person consultation so you know what to expect of the real estate process.
Area Information Binder
Some Realtors create binders to give to out-of-town clients. These binders may include different sections or tabs with maps, website links and information on shopping, dining, places of worship, schools, medical facilities, golf ranges, park districts, entertainment venues, and so on. This binder may help you make a decision on where you'd like to live in the area. You can keep this binder for future reference.
One service that Realtors who go above and beyond do is to offer personal tours of the area to newcomers. Take a morning or an afternoon and have the agent drive you around. A good time to do this is when you have narrowed your search down to a couple areas. Perhaps the agent will treat you to coffee at their favorite coffee shop or to lunch at one of their favorite restaurants.
Some agents offer an incentive to their buyers. Perhaps they will purchase a home warranty for you at closing. Or they may provide a few hours of a cleaning service before you move your belongings into your new home. In today's market with rising interest rates and high home values, a little incentive is welcome.
All in all, find a Realtor who will provide you with extra services. If moving for work, ask your HR department if they have a referral service with a real estate company.