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Buying a house 1500 miles away - need a plan
Old 10-17-2010, 07:50 PM   #1
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Buying a house 1500 miles away - need a plan

DH wants to retire to his home state of Mass- i'm okay with that. He plans on retiring in June 2011. He just returned today from a visit and is really wanting to make it happen. He moved to Ark with me 30 years ago, so fair is fair....plus, i do like New England a lot ....it would work.

Do any of you have any advice? He wants to retire in the area he grew up in, but has not lived there in 30 years. We have visited there, but don't have any connections. His dad is there, but is 88 years old and is not in a position to help us find a place.

My guess is find a reputable local real estate agent, have a long conversation with him/her about what we want and see what happens? We cannot afford to fly up there too many times to look at properties.

If you have advice, please share. We are anxious to learn from what others have done in similar situations....finding a retirement home when you live far away with a smallish budget.

Thanks,
ohyes
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Old 10-17-2010, 07:55 PM   #2
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We moved 1200 miles when we retired so I know the feeling. I don't think you can afford not to make a few trips to make sure you are doing the right thing and moving to the right place. Do you want someone you don't even know (realestate agent) to pick out a place for you and the correct area? If you can afford to retire you can afford to make a few trips.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:03 PM   #3
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i know you are right..and staying 2-3 days would make it much cheaper, i keep reminding myself. Our trips up there have usually been for a week or two or three to see family. A trip long enough to check out properties could be much shorter and fewer $$.

Thanks. How long did it take you to find a retirement home? Just curious...
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:09 PM   #4
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Not long as we were moving near DD and her family. We actually bought the house 4 years before we moved in. I/we, OK mostly me, couldn't wait to get out of NY and down to sunny Fla.. So far so good.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:12 PM   #5
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Ohyes, have you considered the option of renting for the first year after your move, allowing much more time for picking a real estate agent, scouting neighborhoods, learning about local property values, etc.?
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:36 PM   #6
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Find a good agent and have him/her send you listings of what is available daily, and then go thru each listing carefully. After you have seen some homes that interest you, go to where you are scouting and look for 3 days. Saves time and money with a good, conscientious realtor and makes life sooo much easier for you. You will have enough to do just packing things up for another house.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:38 PM   #7
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Advise - Go in January and rent for awhile; then tell us your plans.
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Old 10-17-2010, 08:52 PM   #8
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I also moved far away . We moved from New Jersey to Venice Florida . My husband had always wanted to retire in Florida . We visited several times for a week each time . We then subscribed to the local news papers of the areas we were considering . This was so helpful and actually we ended up eliminating one of the areas we were considering due to the newspaper . We then rented for ten months as we checked out the area . This really helped us zero in on were we wanted to live . My other advice would be do not move a lot of furniture . Each area is different and what looked great in Ark may just not go in Mass ..
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Old 10-17-2010, 11:58 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ohyes View Post
Do any of you have any advice? He wants to retire in the area he grew up in, but has not lived there in 30 years. We have visited there, but don't have any connections. His dad is there, but is 88 years old and is not in a position to help us find a place.
My guess is find a reputable local real estate agent, have a long conversation with him/her about what we want and see what happens? We cannot afford to fly up there too many times to look at properties.
You could start today by bookmarking the local daily newspaper's website and any other community websites, and then keeping up with their "local" events. You'll learn the neighborhoods as well as the good and not-so-good parts of the area.

Check the area's Chamber of Commerce websites and local civic groups like the Lions or Kiwanis or JCs. There may be more material worth browsing there on a daily/weekly basis to familiarize yourself with the area.

We "keep in touch" with our kid's Houston weather by parking a weather widget on our Vista PC's desktop next to our Hawaii weather widget. When you're feeling bad about this winter's chilly weather, you can always cheer yourself up by seeing how much worse it is up there. Wait-- maybe that's not such a good idea after all.

I strongly recommend that you plan to make two moves up there-- one to rent an apartment for 6-12 months while visiting open houses and another move after you buy your dream home. Instead of "interviewing" realtors, talk to the ones at the open houses. You'll quickly learn who's worth talking with, who's really helping their clients, and who you'll get along with.

I think after about 40-50 weeks of open houses (and other activities) you'll have enough of a feel for the area and the weather to be able to pick yourself a place... and only have to do it once.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:17 AM   #10
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What Nords said... I would definitely move before you buy. Rent for a year, if you have too, put you stuff in storage. You don't want to house hunt long distance if you can avoid it. You may find a great home, only to find that you don't like the town/neighborhood once you get there. I'd hunt for great rental now, then look for a place to call home later.
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Old 10-18-2010, 06:33 AM   #11
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Thanks for all the really good advice!

RENTING- that is genius. Maybe DH and i are not smart enough to move. Why didn't we think of that? I am also going to bookmark some newspaper sites today so we can check on those. So far I have been checking zillow.com a few times each week.

haha on moving up there in January and renting and then reporting back. I get that joke. DH and i met while I was living in Portland, ME so I have been through a couple cold winters. Of course, i was 30 years younger and thought it all one big adventure. I was all set on retiring to a retirement community in Arkansas (Hot Springs Village) until it became apparent the DH really, really wants to get back to his homestate.< sigh> But, again, if he can give me 30 years down here, i can return the favor...and i love visiting New England...just was not my first choice for retiring.

..not too worried about moving our "stuff". I want to dump as much of it as possible, but our furniture is 95% antiques, so that should work. You folks do bring up a lot of good points.....very helpful advice and I sure appreciate it.

DE
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:04 AM   #12
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I second what others have said... rent for a while, get your bearings, then decide where to go from there.

Also, if you can, I would not sell your current home till after a few months of living in Mass, unless you are definitely not staying where you are and are moving somewhere else no matter what. There's always a possibility one of you or both may realize that, in the end, living in Mass is not for you (30 yrs is a long time and visiting is not the same as living).
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:46 AM   #13
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Average Weather for Concord, MA - Temperature and Precipitation

Check out the averages for Jan - 35/16 high/low.

Go in Jan., instead of renting get a room by the hour.
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Old 10-18-2010, 11:29 AM   #14
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For a move that far, and especially after that long, I would definitely rent for a year first. After 30 years the place he left probably no longer exists.

If it does, great. If not, you're not locked into staying there without writing off the home buying/selling expenses. And renting gives you the luxury of time to find a home without being in a rush.
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Old 10-18-2010, 07:30 PM   #15
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Quote:
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...(snip)...
Go in Jan., instead of renting get a room by the hour.
That was funny .

P.S. I haven't been to Mass. but have enjoyed the thread.
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Old 10-18-2010, 08:41 PM   #16
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We just moved from Mass in May. We both lived there all of lives (so far), the state has a lot going for it. However, winter weather and taxes aren't what you've been used to.
First, what part of the state does hubby want to move to? You'll find that for a small state the difference is amazing.
Rent may be a good solution, but, you will be in a great position if you are in the market because the real market is very depressed in most areas.
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Old 10-19-2010, 06:51 AM   #17
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Thanks again, guys. The good news is I mentioned all your replies to DH and he is all for renting - agrees that is a brilliant idea. When I shared some of the comments about we may not want to retire to Mass after all, he sort of a let out a "I know they may be right" kind of sigh - or perhaps I just read that into the sigh. Anyway, we have a much better plan now.

No way are taxes and winters the same as in Arkansas. Real estate taxes, from what I can gather on the houses I have looked at on zillow.com are about 9 X higher than we pay here. We get 1-2 snows here a year. (Summers are also very hot and sticky here and I do not do well in heat. In fact, i have wondered if it was a joke that God had me born in hot, sticky Arkansas).

DH is from the North Shore area. Topsfield, to exact. I already know we will be focusing on towns a little north of Topsfield just because of Topsfield real estate prices. His dad has mentioned leaving DH his place, and that MAY happen, but nothing is written down and there is a sister who is probably interested.

Thanks again. I am so glad I found this forum.

DE
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Old 10-21-2010, 12:08 AM   #18
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We are currently trying to sell our house to move 1500 miles away. I have spent a great deal of time trolling on the City-Data forums (www.city-data.com) and through that made a connection with a realtor. She found out what our parameters were (square footage, bedrooms, area, price etc.) and we get detailed listings every time a house goes on the market that falls into our parameters. We have made several house hunting trips, 3 or 4 nights apiece. With this research, we know that there are two areas of town that we are considering. Unfortunately, until our house sells, we're not going to move, because the market is just too slow in So. Calif. and we just can't take the risk.

So, in short, I recommend hooking up with a realtor there. I wouldn't trust Zillow - their numbers are notorious for being wrong! I also recommend city-data.com forums. At least for our location (San Antonio), the forums are extremely active and full of good information about the area and local concerns.

Good luck!
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Old 10-21-2010, 04:24 AM   #19
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You always have the option to just sell your current home... go there an rent and take your time to figure it out.

Lining up your sell with a buy is complicated in the same town... even more so at a distance.

Besides... if you rent and find that it is not what your DH expected (after being there for a year)... you have simplified the exit.

IMO - Sell, line up a rental move and figure the rest of your life out once you get there!
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Old 10-27-2010, 10:09 AM   #20
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Positively rent first. DH may have been bitten by nostalgia. That feels wonderful for a while, then reality sinks in. Mass. has a way of excluding new-comers too. Old families rule. Weather is terrible. Open space is limited.

Do you have a vision of what you want life to be like when you retire? Does Mass. fit that vision?
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