Though searching for a new home is always stressful, it is also exciting; the search for the perfect place to live is often the most enjoyable part of moving. Though pictures or even just information about your new home can be helpful, nothing replaces the ability to walk through the space yourself. Sometimes though, it simply isn't possible to engage in that search, and moving into a new home sight unseen presents a unique set of challenges.
If you find yourself facing a move into a new home sight unseen, flexibility and an open mind are the key to success. When you simply can't wait to see a home in person before you make a move, here are some tips to help ease that process.
Research your new city or town to get an idea of neighborhoods that appeal to you. Decide if you want a smaller urban space or a larger one further from the action. Once you have chosen an ideal neighborhood, pick a backup as well in case nothing is available in your price range. The more information you or your realtor or relocation agent have to work with, the better the focus of the housing search.
Make a decision about outdoor space and parking as these can be some of the most difficult elements to match; apartments with hardwood floors are a dime a dozen in DC, but one that comes with dedicated parking in Columbia Heights is more elusive. If outdoor space is essential, decide if you have to have a yard or if a container garden on a small balcony will suffice.
Be upfront with your new landlord or your relocation office about specific elements that you need to see in your new home. If you have an heirloom table that seats twelve that simply must to be a part of your home, you definitely need a home that has the necessary space to house it. Make a list of everything you want in an ideal home, then prioritize it, knowing that you are unlikely to find a home that has it all.
Try to push for photos of the new space if possible to help you get a least some idea of the space available and how it is configured. Even a handsketched floor plan can help you make decisions about what to move and what might not work in your new space. Remember that the quirkier your new space, the greater the possibility that you will have furniture that simply doesn't fit.
If you can, push for a short term lease that will allow you to actually get into the home before making a permanent commitment. If a short term lease is not an option, negotiate to reduce the penalty for breaking the lease if it turns out your new home simply is not acceptable. Try to set aside that amount of money in a separate account to give you the option to move out if necessary.
Finally, once you make your move, try to embrace the sense of adventure that led you to your new home. Be creative and think outside the box. If there are layout problems, can they be rectified by using the space in new and unexpected ways? Would the master bedroom work better as your art studio because of the wonderful light? Can you transform the dining room into a dual-use room to also house your office? Will a coat or two of paint make all the difference to a dark kitchen or bathroom? Though you might not have chosen the home yourself, you can certainly try to put your own unique stamp on the space.
Do any of your have experience moving in sight unseen? What advice would you like to share with folks facing this difficult process? Are there any pitfalls to try to avoid? Share your thoughts in the comments below.