No matter what stage you're at in your medical career, your next job could take you to another city.
The home-buying process is challenging enough in an area you’re familiar. But imagine doing so in a new city while transitioning to a new stage in your career.
Here are five tips to minimize the stress when these two major life events collide.
1. Start making lists ASAP
Like seriously --- right now if you can.
A career in medicine does not come with much free time.(You know this from firsthand experience.) And when you do find some to spare, you'd probably prefer to relax with friends and family. But when it comes to future opportunties, the worst thing you can do is procrastinate.
As soon as you know you’ll be moving, make a:
- To-do list.
- New home wish list.
Rank the attributes that are most important to your new home:
- Do you want a big kitchen?
- Do you want space to entertain?
- How many bedrooms and bathrooms do you prefer?
- Do you want a large yard?
- Or would you rather not have to deal with lawn care?
- What style of home fits your needs?
- How much garage space do you require?
Also, consider the environment you want your new home to be in:
- Do you want to live downtown, a nearby suburb or in the country?
- Do you want a short commute to work? Or are you fine with a long drive to get away from the noise and chaos?
- Do you prefer proximity to restaurants, parks, entertainment districts and other amenities?
Anytime you have 15 minutes or more not dedicated to work is a perfect time to chip away at your list.
2. Get a big-picture view of your new community
Take some time to get a feel for the area you’re moving to --- especially the real estate market.
Use a cost-of-living calculator to see how your new market compares to your current one. (We love this one from Bankrate.) This should help alleviate financial surprises along the way. (For example, a $200,000 house in your current city is worth $350,000 where you’re moving — or vice versa.)
In your downtime, start scanning some of the real estate listings in your new market. Although you need not become an expert, get as familiar as possible with:
- What options are available.
- The types of neighborhoods you’ll be exploring.
- you might have to spend to get what you want.
Don’t spend too much time digging into details. You’ll be hiring a local professional to help you with that (more on that later.)
Think of this step as meeting a new patient. No diagnosis begins by running a battery of tests. First, you start with a general medical history and basic questions about what brought the patient to your care.
3. Comparison shop physician mortgage loans
As you may know by now, doctors have access exclusive home loans called physician mortgages. This type of loan is designed to meet the unique financial traits of doctors, such as:
- A lot of student debt.
- Little income and credit history.
- Very high salary potential.
They require little to no money down, no private mortgage insurance (PMI).
Check your new city for a lender that offers this option and try to get pre-approved financing. We recommend comparing current mortgage rates from lenders that offer doctor loans in your new location.
4. Hire a reputable pro you can trust
Before seeking professional help, it's important identify:
- A realistic budget.
- All of your wants and needs in this process.
Not only will outlining this first make your home-buying experience smoother; it will also help make sure your agent has your best interests in mind.
Once you have this in place, it's time to find your real estate agent. If possible, try to get a referral someone you know in the area. If that's option, the research you perform in your due diligence becomes more crucial.
You want to find an agent who will be comfortable working on your behalf while you’re in a different location. Preferably, this means an agent who has helped other physicians find suitable neighborhoods.
Once your agent identifies several options that meet your criteria, it's time to schedule a visit. Hopefully, this leads to you making an offer. If that's the case, your agent should be able to handle most of the closing details before you move.
5. Account for the total cost of ownership
There’s more cost to owning a home than just the mortgage payment. When making your move, you need to factor in:
- Property taxes.
- Homeowners insurance.
- Utilities and maintenance.
If you join a homeowners' association, you'll also have those dues to pay.
Most of these additional costs will very based on the size, location and style of your home. That's why it's vital that you account for all of these factors as you comparison shop.
Even if you know for certain this is your final stop, you should consider factors that impact the home’s resell value. Pay special attention to the quality of the local school districts (even if you don’t have or plan to have kids). Schools are one of the biggest determining factors for potential homebuyers. Naturally, this has a huge impact determining home value.
Househunting is complicated experience. Add to that the relocation of your practice, and the process becomes daunting fast. Hopefully, these five tips should help alleviate any stress you face along the way:
- Make lists and chip away.
- Research your new community.
- Hire a well-known pro to fuel your search.
- Comparison shop physician mortgage loans.
- Consider the total cost of ownership.
In doing so, you are on track to prioritizing your needs and taking control of your next chapter in life.