Here's the overall process if you are buying a home, but don't currently live in the area:
1. First we will set up a call together, which takes 30 minutes to 1 hour. The call will help me familiarize you with the area, along with helping me understand exactly what you're looking for. When you plan your first trip it will also help me to know what areas and neighborhoods to show.
2. I will set up auto searches based off of your criteria, for example what kind of neighborhood or what style of home you like. This will notify you automatically when a home that matches your criteria hits the market. If you are already getting these emails I will help adjust them to make sure you are only getting listings that are relevant. *As a side note, be careful using platforms like zillow or trulia to search - they do not update their listings frequently and many of the homes on those websites may already be under contract.
3. We will plan a first trip together, where we typically tour 1 or 2 areas of interest. The tour schedule will look something like this:
Day 1 1pm-4:30 tour area #1 (for example Durham or Raleigh) and see a few homes
Day 2 1pm-4:30 tour area #2 (for example Chapel Hill/Carrboro or Hillsborough) and see a few homes
Day 3 1pm-4:30 (reserved time to see a few more in one/both areas above)
The timetable above may change if there are more or less areas we need to tour and discuss. For example, some people will come for a definite buying trip, versus doing two or more separate trips.
4. After the first tour we usually narrow down to an area or two and can adjust the auto searches to let us know the moment something comes on the market in those spots.
5. While you are not here in the Triangle we can do a video tour of new listings. The most important thing to know about videos is that the dimensions of different spaces is still difficult to gauge. If the seller's realtor has a floor plan then that definitely will help show the spaces when combined with the video.
6. Some buyers will put an offer in on a house without seeing it, utilizing the video tour and the floorplan. It is a little risky, and so it depends on your particular comfort level. If you've toured the neighborhood and the area during the first trip then that helps a bunch.
7. Some buyers will fly down the next day and see the home depending on the offer situation. Basically it depends if the sellers only have one offer or several. If there are multiple offers then it may be a waste of time, unless the sellers set an offer deadline that gives you enough time to see the property before it is put under contract.
8. A second more serious house hunting trip is also common. Tip: If this is planned in advance I wouldn't recommend doing it in the middle of the winter, as there typically is a few less homes to look at than during the other seasons. The one good thing about the winter is if you find a home you like you can typically get a pretty good deal, as it is less competitive.
9. Other than that pretty much everything else is the same once you get under contract. You will work on the loan (if not paying cash) and order inspections. You do not need to be here for the inspections, but some people prefer to come. It's always nice to come to inspections if your work schedule isn't too hectic.
10. For closing it's much easier to be here in person to sign documents at the attorney's office. There are such things as 'mail away' closings, but that will depend on if your lender approves them or not. A power of attorney for a spouse is also possible. If you are paying cash then you don't need to come to closing, although most people still do to talk to the attorney and just make sure everything is wrapped up!