Moving to Seattle when finished with project in Oklahoma. How far out should I start looking at property to buy?

Asked by Tara Gradney, Tulsa, OK Thu Dec 5, 2013

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Dan Tabit, Agent, Issaquah, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Hi Tara,
Welcome to the Northwest. 16 months is a long time in this business. We'll see lots of changes in the market between now and then.
I would encourage you to take some time to figure out what price range you expect to be in, based on your expected income and credit, then watch that segment of the market.
Learn the area, do you want to be in the city, a suburb or the rural country? What type of recreation to enjoy? Do you know where you'll be working or how much of a commute you care to tolerate? Will you have a car or depend on public transit?
When you have some answers to these and other questions, you can focus on some neighborhoods or cities that suit your needs. Once you have this figured out, you can watch the market through any number of websites, or have a local broker send you listings.
Our inventory has been very low for the past year. Well priced, well marketed homes are selling very quickly, so anything that is currently available will be gone before you're ready.
Google a few of us who answer your question. Research some areas, brokers and lenders and find out what you want in your next home and who can help you.
Best of luck.
2 votes
Mark Reys, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Hi Tara,

Sixteen months is an eternity in the current Seattle real estate market. A good Realtor would offer to show you homes and introduce you to the flare and individual nuances of each Seattle neighborhood well in advance of your purchase, but serious home shopping should probably start when your are ready to sign.

Having the background research and prep completed (Realtor selected, price target determined, lenders researched, financing in order, down payment funds available, current home pre-sold if necessary) before the search begins in earnest is quite important. If a home remains on the market for 3 months there is something amiss with the property, the price is too high, it's a short sale, or it is quite unique and the pool of buyers is very small and thus is requiring more time to find the right person to buy it. We (real estate brokers/Realtors) are great and helping our clients prepare for a home purchase, so ask for their help. Another consideration is your logistics. Do you plan to move from OK and directly into your new home, or will you settle in a rental and conduct the search from there. Both are doable.

Oklahoma to Seattle is quite a change. We still have some family in Carmen, but the rest have all made their way out to the Seattle area.

I wish you the best of luck in your planning and home search.

Mark Reys | Real Estate Brokerage Services for Residential Buyers and Sellers
Coldwell Banker Bain - Queen Anne/Lake Union
1 vote
Ardell Della…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
I had clients relocate from Oklahoma to Seattle last year. They did a short term, 3 month, rental while looking after they arrived. They were a family with a child and another on the way. If you are a single person looking for a condo, the amount of time needed will be shorter.

If you know your destination point, where you will be working upon arrival, give us that and we can make some suggestions of areas to view online over the next year. 16 months from now is a perfect time as inventory will likely be at its highest level at that time and give you more options than what you can see in Winter.
1 vote
Will Herlan, Agent, Bellevue, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Depends on where you are going to work and how bad a commute you want. Land gets cheaper the further out you get from Seattle in general. Some people who work in Seattle commute on the ferries from the islands and the kitsap peninsula. I used to work with people who lived on the other side of Snoqualmie Pass and they vanpooled to work. Sometimes the snow would prevent the trip to work or home, but mostly they got very cheap land for the price of spending more gas to commute. They also got fewer days of rain when they were home.

Where is work going to be, and what do you want for property?
1 vote
Jirius Isaac, Agent, Kenmore, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013

You have some great answers already & so I see no reason to repeat what they all said because I would have said very similar things to you. Timing is everything, but it is ultimately up to your scheduling. Coming from Oklahoma, you will be surprised at the cost of property here, so be prepared.

One of the first things you really want to do is to talk with a loan originator and find out a good ball park number as to what you qualify for. I say ballpark because interest rates change all the time. I would be very happy to help you figure that out with no obligation to work with me when you are ready. Please contact me directly & I can let you know numbers after you answer several questions for me.

The next thing you want to do is to decide on a real estate broker you want to use. I would suggest, that as a buyer, you Google every agent that responds to your question here on Trulia, learn as much as you can about who they are online, read their client testimonials, so you know what their clients are saying about them, and then give us each a call and just ask us why we think you should work with us instead of another agent. This will take you a little while to do, but will be time well spent, as choosing the right agent is the first step towards choosing the right home. Then, pick the best fit for you and let them go to work for you with the skill and knowledge that they have. I hope to hear from you soon.

Good luck to you in any case,
Jirius Isaac

Isaac Real Estate Team
Champions Real Estate Services
TriStar Finance #MLO-107799
Office: 425-483-6849 Cell: 206-841-9976
Winner of Seattle Magazines 5 Star
Real Estate Agent Best in Client Satisfaction Award
Mortgage Loan Originator Best in Client Satisfaction
1 vote
Michael Cope…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013

In the current market homes are staying on the market for a very short amount of time...sometimes hours or days if it is a really desirable home and/or priced very aggressively. I would advise you to start looking anytime just to get familiar with the different areas of Seattle and to understand what price range you will be focusing on.

I would seriously begin looking about 6 months before you know you are moving...even then you might find a great house, but not be able to buy it because of the timing. Will you be traveling out here ahead of time to see houses or will you be relying on a Realtor like myself to tour homes for you and buy while you are still in Oklahoma? It is not easy to jump right into buying when relocating...a lot of people I work with end up renting very short term so that they can house hunt after moving here, but if you work with a good Realtor you should have no problem finding and securing a home in the months leading up to your relocation.

I would be happy to have a more in depth conversation with you to help answers any questions you have about buying in Seattle. I can work with you to begging figuring out what style of home you will be looking for and in what area and price range. I can even periodically send you homes so that you stay on top of what the market is doing here...please don't hesitate to reach out to me for help, I would love to hear from you. Good luck in any case...Seattle is a great city and you are going to love it here! :)

Michael Copeland
1 vote
Mark England, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Hi Tara,

Sooner is better than later in most cases. How familiar are you with the Seattle area, and do you have friends, associates, or other personal resources to help you make the transition? Are you planning on having a home ready when you arrive?

Location is a big issue here. Where you will be working, (commute is an important consideration here), what kind of home you are looking for, is there more than one person in the household commuting to different parts of town, etc. Depending on the area the market in the Seattle area ranges from strong to nearly frenetic. In other words, if you find a home you like, you will want to get it under contract so you need to be prepared.

Talk to a good local real estate lender to make sure you are ready to buy when the opportunity arises. Pre-approval by a professional lender is critical. While you are starting that process you should start the discovery process with an agent here to begin learning all the details. Where, what kind of home, how much, style, etc can be explored from there so that when you do get here you will be able to make good use of your time and find a home quickly.

If you are not familiar you will find this an incredible change from Oklahoma. The weather, the scenery, the various cultural differences, and unfortunately real estate prices.

I work with a lot of people moving into the area from all over the world and some have started the process a year or more ahead and others contacted me as they were loading the truck to move. All had a positive experience and found great homes; those that started sooner experienced a lot less stress and uncertainty. So sooner is better than later. Having a good working relationship with a good agent will make it much easier and get you a much better result.

Let me know if I can be of help or if you would like to learn more about the local market, the process and laws in Washington state, good lenders who provide great service along with great pricing and products, or even have general questions about the area. We love to help!

You have a lot to look forward to here and we would love to help you discover the Seattle area.

Mark England
Real Estate Broker Keller Williams Eastside (425) 440-0563 Direct
~~~ We Love to Help~~
1 vote
Karen Mcknig…, Agent, Kirkland, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Hi Tara,

I think your question is about timing. If you want to take advantage of low interest rates, it would be a good idea to start soon. One the Federal Reserve decides to stop buying mortgage backed securities, interest rates will go up. As unemployment eases, the Fed plans to back off on its mortgage backed securities purchases.

Also, the Seattle real estate market has been appreciating year over year for about two years. We are probably up 20% from the bottom of the market.

When are you finished in Oklahoma? You will want to negotiate your purchase about 30 days before you want to move into your home.

The inventory starts increasing in February and builds to a peak in mid summer. Right now, in most Seattle areas, at least in King County, we have about a two month's supply of houses, which means we are in a Seller's market. That means the seller's have a negotiating advantage until the inventory builds again.

New construction starts and appreciation will help build the inventory. As price increases, more sellers become equity sellers. contact me with any questions you may have.

Warm Regards,
Web Reference:
1 vote
John Stewart, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Your success in this market will be based your understanding of the values in the neighborhood that you want to live in. The purpose of beginning now is to learn those values.
Homes that are a good value and are any good looking sell in a couple of days. In order to compete in this market you need to know the values.
1 vote
Wendy Cecche…, Agent, Seattle, WA
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Tara, winter is a great time to be looking, as there is fewer competition with other buyers. That said, you should be pre-approved by a lender prior to submitting an offer. I can recommend a lender who can get you pre-approved on any property address to be determined later, and get you closed within twelve days. This would make you a very competitive buyer in a multiple bid situation.

How far out you should be looking depends a great deal on the specific buying criteria you have. Feel free to start your customized search now for free on my website at or call me at 425-270-7292 if I may answer any questions for you.
1 vote
Dave Skow, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Seattle, WA
Wed May 14, 2014

Tara – hi there …I am following up to see if you are still in need of any assistance regarding your OK – WA moving plans next year ?

Dave Skow
WA MLO #278613
Eagle Home Mortgage
w 206 714 9745
0 votes
Ray Akers, Agent, Seattle, WA
Sat Dec 7, 2013
It's never too soon to begin the search for a new home. Seattle real estate is pricey compared to most U.S. cities so that may be a limiting factor for you. Seattle offers a surprising variation in lifestyles and neighborhoods. If you don't know Seattle well, I'd start with a couple of visits. Explore the different neighborhoods. It won't take long to narrow your search to a few neighborhoods that fit your budget and lifestyle. During these initial visits I'd encourage you to make connections with an experienced Realtor. Having the help of a Realtor will really shorten your learning curve and help you to hone-in on the neighborhoods that are most compatible with your lifestyle.

You should expect a lot of change in the next 16 months, including higher prices and higher interest rates. The sooner you get the process started, the better. If you have any other questions feel free to get in touch with me. I'm born & raised in Seattle, and a Realtor for 27 years.
0 votes
Tara Gradney, Renter, Tulsa, OK
Thu Dec 5, 2013
Question was cut short... I have about 16 months before I will definitely be moving.
0 votes
Tara - thanks

1)will you have employment when you move ? if so - thats helpful especially is you will needing a loan ......if you wont have income / employment - you will need to secure this before buying ( unless you dont need a loan )

2) Possible to consider buying asap ? before 16 months ? reason I throw out that idea is to take advanatage of prices before they increase and to also take advanatage of lowish rates ( if needing a loan )

3) if you definitely dont want / cant buy before 16 months from now - best to begin looking agressively 2-3 months prior to the targeted date
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