In a perfect world, buying a new home and selling the old one would happen at the same time. But in the real world (especially when job and school schedules are involved), you might be in your new dream home and still have a house several states over that needs to be sold. Take it from us: Selling a home from out of state can be tough, especially as you’re trying to unpack your new place, get the feel of a new job, and settle into a new routine.
In order to get through it and make a successful sale, you’re going to need an all-star team back at the old homefront. Here, we’ll cover how to guarantee they can get the job done. We’ll also walk you through some things you can do to minimize the back-and-forth—so that your local team can wrap up your old life while you focus on building a new one.
1. Hire a real estate agent who can handle the distance
Your former city probably has a lot of qualified real estate agents to choose from, but you should be especially particular when hiring someone to handle an out-of-state sale. Your listing agent should be experienced in coordinating with clients remotely, and able to make a fast sale on your home so that it doesn’t just sit on the market.
“My best advice for this is to choose the Realtor® who has done the most sales in the past year,” says Avery Carl, a Realtor® in Nashville, TN.
And you should get into the semantics here: “A lot of sellers look for the agent who’s listed the most properties,” she says, “but finding the agent who has done the most buyer-side sales is a hidden gem—they’ll have a ton of buyer contacts and can get your listing sold the fastest.”
You should also make sure your listing agent is someone you can trust to be responsive—who will keep you up to date on what’s happening and will respond to your emails and voicemails at lightning speed. After all, that’s the only way you’ll know what’s happening with your property.
“Since most of the communication will be over the phone and through text or email, you want to get a feel for their personality,” explains Nadia Anac, a real estate agent in Tampa, FL. “A real estate agent should be able to keep you up to date with any changes in the market, recommend contractors, and communicate with you frequently.”
2. Work with a stager to get the home sold faster
DIY staging is going to be hard to pull off from a distance, especially when all of your furniture is already in the new house.
“A little face-lift from a hired interior designer or the broker can really make a huge difference on selling this home while you’re out of state and unable to do it yourself,” says Lior Rachmany, founder and CEO of New York City–based Dumbo Moving & Storage.
By working with a stager (ideally one your agent recommends), your home won’t look like it was recently abandoned—a vibe that could turn off buyers.
3. Make sure you can close on the sale from out of state
Amid the chaos of buying a new home and selling another, you probably didn’t take the time to consider how closing on your former house would affect you. Since a lot of attorneys require you to be present at the table during closing, this is a good piece of logistics to work out in advance.
If you live close enough to go in person, that’s fine. But if you’re looking at a $600 plane ticket and a boatload of inconvenience, it’s a good idea to find someone more flexible to work with.
“When you sell a house out of state, pick a flexible closing attorney or title company,” says Shawn Breyer, owner of Georgia’s Breyer Home Buyers. “When you’re vetting the companies you are going to close with, ask them if you can sign the closing documents with a local notary present. If the buyer’s lender or your Realtor is choosing, have them make sure that you can close from out of state.”
To learn more about remote closings, check out our handy guide.
4. Make sure your team has what it needs—and members know one another
Avoid unnecessary back-and-forth during the sale by making sure your team has all the paperwork and documents it’ll need throughout the process. And make sure team members are aware of one another, so that they know how to communicate without going through you.
“Be sure to hire a broker and a real estate lawyer while you’re in town so you can walk them through your property, give them your deed, etc., and make sure all involved parties have each other’s contact information,” advises New York City–based real estate agent Daniele Kurzweil. “When you’re selling from out of state, you should have your game plan set from the beginning.”
5. Relinquish control
Once you’ve hired an all-star team, it’s time to sit back and let it handle the sale. Easier said than done, we know. But being as far away as you are, it’s going to be fairly difficult for you to do much else.
“Surround yourself with a team you trust and let them do the heavy lifting,” Kurzweil says. “Listen to their advice. They’re on the front lines every day with your property.”
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