Cross-country home buying/selling

Anyone have experience selling a house in CA and buying a house across the country (bonus points for doing this during covid)? We’re trying to move back to the East Coast within the next year, but feel overwhelmed. We have 3 main questions: 1) Did you find a real estate agent and mortgage broker in your target community first? How did you negotiate open houses/bids while living across the country? 2) If you sold your house and used the proceeds to buy across the country, where did you live in the interim? It would be easier if we sold first, then rented in the new community, but moving 2x sounds rough on the kids, and we’re worried prices will continue to climb. 3) If you bought a new house before selling your existing one, what financing method did you use? A 2nd mortgage, or borrow against a 401(k), or HELOC, or…? Would love hearing how others have managed a cross-country move and lived to tell the tale.

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We are in the same situation. We are planning to move to my husband's home town, where his family still lives. We have a realtor and mortgage broker in our target community. We initially planned to move while our house is on the market, stay with my in laws until we can either find a rental or a home to purchase once our home here sells. After thinking about it, we wanted to be set up to move quickly should a desirable home come on market and buy the new home before selling our current home. We will likely have a virtual walk through with our realtor and have one of us fly out to see the property as soon as possible before making an offer. Making an offer sight unseen, is a bit terrifying to me! If that is the case, we will take out a second mortgage and then put our home on the market. I acknowledge we are in a very fortunate financial place and the community where we are moving is far more affordable than the bay area.  Best of luck to you! This is definitely a tough situation.

We moved from Boston to Berkeley last january and in doing so sold out condo in Boston.  We rent here but mostly we wanted to get a sense of the different neighborhoods before committing to buying.  Are you moving to an area you are familiar with or do you have any friends/family in the area.  Always nice to get recommendations that way vs the internet.  

1) You should be able to find who the top agents/teams are in the region you're looking at, some will be the top in terms of sales volume vs total dollars sold.  The same real estate agent should be able to help you negotiate the contract/offer you put in on any property on the east coast you want to buy.  I don't know the technical term for it but there is a contingency clause that basically says the offer is contingent on selling your house first.

2) Whatever real estate agent you choose on the east coast should be able to give you three recommendations for lenders they've worked with in the past.  You can certainly find your own lender but it should save you time/energy by following the recommendations of the agent.

3) As far as open houses/bids, I think it's about comfort level for your family.  Lots of stuff can be done virtually but if you can afford to fly to the east coast for a weekend and tour a bunch of houses in person, your agent should be able to make offers for you without you having to be on the east coast.

Good luck!

We did this (Boston and back to SF) Rented till had sold in SF and vice versa. Our kids were small and it was tough. While renting we drove around at weekends to first look at open houses but they were not what we were looking for (all 'colonial' or shingled etc with small windows and odd shapes whereas we wanted tons of light and glass,  coming from sunny SF (move back was easier!!). Then found a few communities of mid moderns and found a house we liked while just driving around. Looked up owner on assessors office website, found an email for them, they luckily wanted to sell (they were overseas and had rented it) and we negotiated directly and used a real estate lawyer to do all the checks and paperwork. PM me if you want more info. Good luck. 

So my mother just did this and used Zillow. They sold her home and helped purchase the new home. They handled everything from start to finish including the mortgage, helped with movers. It was so easy for her to do this so I would suggest seeing what they offer. Less headaches but not sure about how they handle bidding wars and all.

Hi this is to only answer a tiny aspect of your question - where to stay in the interim. We've had to travel a lot as a family staying in places for weeks to months.

One place to consider is a suites hotel. We've often rented a 2-bedroom in a Marriott Towneplace Suites but there are other brands and have loved it. Now it may not work if you are trying to establish residency in a committee for school purposes. But we found Airbnbs were pretty dang expensive even in areas you wouldn't think would garner much interest. And they often do not have large chunks of time open so it's hard almost impossible to book 2 full months. We've also booked through executive housing services and have found some as cheap as Airbnbs but that's not a given, you just have to ask but I would definitely recommend contacting a few of them.

The Towneplace Suites included breakfast everyday, snacks throughout, many have a tiny swimming pool, 2x week maid service so they change the beds etc you don't, plus your utilities included, a small gym, and a laundry on every floor. We always loved it, the whole family was happy. Towneplace doesn't offer a huge spread for breakfast but still kids like it. Not the best quality food but not bad and the kids survive - yogurt, cereal & milk, bagels & cream cheese, boiled eggs, etc. Also cookies, fruit and coffee throughout the day. You have your own full kitchen to cook whatever you want.

Anyway here is a blog of gal who moved her family with 3 kids into a suites hotel during the months between selling her house and the completion of construction on the new one -  Eden Strong - Living at the Hyatt

She stayed at a Hyatt (the pool looks better than most of the Towneplace Suites pools which would be a big benefit if staying a few months) and discusses how she determined the cost analysis. Key things would be to call the manager directly to ask for a good deal because it's a long stay. Even if you don't know how long at first, you can negotiate for the lower stay possibility. Also if you stay longer than 30 days you establish residency (not sure if a school district would see it that way but worth a check) and so that eliminates your taxes which also saves. You'll earn a lot of points (consider applying for the chain credit card to maximize). Using a hotel will give you more flexibility for that interim part than an Airbnb.  

I did this in the fall of 2018 - moved from Alameda to Bozeman, Montana and sold my house in Alameda and used the proceeds to buy in Bozeman.  With good realtors and good timing, it is doable.  Please contact me if you want to discuss.  - Jody