Cross-Country Moves: Realtor Jana Kading’s Handy Guide to Finding a Realtor and Your Next Home

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Moving is stressful. Cross-country moves can quickly turn up the stress meter up to an 11. Realtor Jana Kading knows this firsthand. Kading shares some practical advice for planning your long-distance move – and for dialing down that stress meter way, way down.

A good, trusting relationship with your Realtor will make all the difference in a time of upheaval. Don’t have friends, family, or co-workers in the area who can give you a referral for a great Realtor? Your employer doesn’t have a relocation person, department or program? Never fear. Kading offers some great ways to find a real estate agent you’ll love.

Realtor Jana Kading

Five Simple Steps to Selecting a Local Realtor You’ll Love

  1. Research three top-selling real estate brokerages, or perhaps boutique brokerages that specialize in certain populations, like LBGTQ, military, minority-owned, etc. in the metropolitan area.
  2. Call and ask for the names of several Realtors at each brokerage who are very familiar with the areas adjacent to your workplace(s).
  3. If you are able to make multiple trips to your new city, Google and attend open houses. You’ll meet agents face-to-face to find one you like.
  4. If not, conduct phone interviews to see if you have compatible personalities. Skype or FaceTime work even better!
  5. Ask for references, visit the agents’ websites, and Google the agent. Make sure this is a professional who knows the area and maintains professional relationships with clients.

Once you’ve chosen a Realtor in your new city, you’ll need to have some important conversations about where and how you want to live. There’s a lot to consider beyond number of bedrooms, square feet, and budget.

Five Questions to Ask Yourself (and your Realtor)

  1. How long you are willing to commute to your workplace — in minutes? A good agent will know the rush hour traffic patterns. Some agents may assume you want to be as close to your workplace as possible. But you may have other priorities like neighborhood character, or lot size that are more important than commute. Ask about and research long term highway construction plans — no one wants to commute or make daily errands in construction for 5 years. Or breathe dust.
  2. What kind of neighborhood vibe you want? Quirky Boho or standard suburban? Sleek, modern downtown, or rustic digs on a couple acres? Unless you are a stay-indoors telecommuter who doesn’t place an emphasis on socializing, the feel of your immediate neighborhood can make or break a new location.
  3. If you have children, will you be sending them to public schools? Inform your Realtor and do school district research (try If you choose private schooling, consider commute times (not just for work but for after school activities). Some districts offer school choice, magnet schools for music, business, engineering or foreign languages, and others are known for elite level sports. Keep in mind: even if you won’t participate in the school district, good districts support resale value.
  4. What stresses you out? Do you need your ducks in a row all the time? Consider completely closing your current house, storing most of your belongings, and living in a short term lease while you find your next home. Or are you more flexible? You could be closing your current house and looking for your new place at the same time. This takes some effort by your Realtor, title company, and lender, and you will need to be on top of documents at all times. You will also need to coordinate the moving service (or rental trucks and POD type storage, if you do it yourself).
  5. Does your time frame allow for renovating prior to the move? There are many companies that offer real estate and renovation services (we just profiled a local company, Richland Renovations). You could also purchase a seriously deficient property, tear it down, and build a new home.

While we can’t help with the packing, we’re confident that Kading’s handy guide will bring you much closer to sanity on your cross-country move.

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Heather Hunter

In addition to a 15-year career in marketing and communications, Heather is an accomplished freelance writer and has contributed to The New York Times’ “Modern Love” column and “The United States of Dating” on National Public Radio. Her blog, This Fish Needs a Bicycle, was syndicated by NBC Universal (iVillage) for four years. As a ghostwriter, her work has appeared in publications such as WIRED and Stadia Magazine

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