PCS season means lots of decisions to make. And sometimes, it means making the tough ones before you’ve even packed a box. This time, it’s decided – you are going to rent a home sight unseen at your new duty station.
Are you nervous yet? Palms sweaty? Second-guessing your choice already?
Maybe, but there are reasons you’ve decided that renting a home sight unseen is the right move for you. You’ll be able to receive your household goods ASAP, get settled quickly and save time and money along the way.
So, where to start? First, by doing your research. Make sure you’ve got the full 411 on neighborhoods you like at your new duty station. A manageable commute? Check. Your favorite coffee shop nearby? Check. Dog park? Check. Good schools? Check.
Whatever is on your priority list, find that first and then narrow down your first-choice areas.
The next step is the process of actually finding a place, checking it out and signing the lease. Often, the best way to do that from afar is to hire a realtor. But just like with finding the right neighborhood, you need to find the right real estate professional. Here are eight questions to ask if you are hiring a realtor to find your new home sight unseen:
- Have you ever handled a sight-unseen rental? If the answer is no, it might be best to move along.
- Do you think I’m crazy? If the answer is no, you might have found the perfect fit.
- Can you send me high-quality photos? Even if photos are included in the rental listing, ask the realtor to get new ones before you decide if you want to proceed with “looking at” the home. That’s where the next question comes in …
- Can you do a live video walkthrough? Be very specific in this request. Ask the realtor to open cabinets, closets, and toilets. Make sure he or she shows you each room from different angles so you see every part of it, exactly as if you were there yourself. Depending on the size of the house, this could take 30 minutes or more.
- Can you take me on a walk around the neighborhood? Ditto No. 4, but outside. You’ll want video of the entire exterior of the house, too, paying close attention to its surroundings. Wait … is that a train horn? And that does neighbor have 10 dogs in the front yard?
- How will you handle lease signing? Most likely, this will be done via email but it’s always a good idea to ask just to be sure. This question can also be a barometer of how well the realtor might handle the entire process.
- What is your normal fee and do you charge extra for any of these services or charge a fee if I opt not to rent any of the homes you show me? When hiring any professional, you should always know up front exactly how much you are going to pay, and what the terms of the agreement are.
- Is there an option to back out if I change my mind? This might be possible for a fee, but hopefully, you’ll find your dream spot smoothly and without worry!
Are you still searching for the right realtor? Our friends over at PCSgrades can help! On their website, they have reviews of neighborhoods and real estate agents, so you can read about other military families experiences with moving to, and living in, your new hometown.
By Jan Wesner Childs