As Canadians move from city to city or province to province, locating new housing from a distance can prove challenging. For instance, if you were moving from Ottawa to Vancouver, you might not know which neighborhoods match your lifestyle or what’s reasonable for a three-bedroom house in your new area.
Here’s a look at strategies for long-distance house-hunting.
- Use your employer’s relocation support: If your move is job-related, then your employer may offer temporary housing, down payment assistance, help selling your current home or referrals to local real estate agents who can guide you towards suitable neighborhoods or properties. Military families may have formal or informal resources to help with relocations as well.
- Enlist a local scout: If you’re lucky enough to have friends or relatives in your new area, they could help you by attending apartment showings or open houses. Get specific about what your house-hunting criteria: Do you need a single-level house or are stairs OK? How important is yard size or walkability? Ask the person to share details that may not be apparent from a video or online listing such as unusual smells, awkward layouts or a yard that backs up to a highway. Remember, they should look at properties keeping in mind your preferences, not their own.
- Make a scouting trip: The best way to find your new home is to visit in person. Oftentimes, families or individuals planning a major move will plan to visit the area over a long weekend (or longer period) to scope out neighborhoods, meet with real estate agents or view properties. Sometimes these trips can be combined with other tasks such as job interviews, but you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time to spend time in potential neighborhoods or new homes. It’s also helpful to do your research online in advance before you arrive so you’ll know what to look for.
- Find a trusted real estate agent: Working with a good real estate agent with lots of experience in your target neighborhoods is helpful even when you have a local scout or plan to visit the area yourself. Ask lots of questions about the local community, school districts, property values and more to get a feel for the area. If you can’t visit properties in person, your agent may be able to work with you via Google Hangout, Facetime or skype to discuss your needs and show you potential properties. Some agents will even create video tours and post them privately on YouTube so that clients in distant areas can view tours virtually.