Q: My husband and I are planning to relocate up north and change jobs and our environment. Should we get preapproved before changing places of employment, or would it be all right to take another job as long as it is the same type of work? What steps would you advise us to take?
Relocating can be a little tricky, from a mortgage perspective. It’s always advisable to get preapproved for a mortgage before you make a major move like a job change, but lenders are pretty good about scrutinizing all the details these days.
If you get approved for a home loan while you live and work in one town, then try to use that loan to purchase a home more than 25 miles away from your job, chances are good that your lender will require some sort of note from your existing job documenting that they understand you are moving and will allow you to have some sort of long-distance working arrangement, or will want to see proof of a new job in your new town.
To your point, though, by "new" job, lenders are looking for you to have a job in the same field as you’re currently working in. They don’t want you experimenting with entirely new lines of work on their dime, in case things don’t work out and you find yourself with the new mortgage but without any job at all.
Keeping those things in mind, I recommend you take the following course of action:
1. Find your local real estate and mortgage pros in your new home town. Get referrals from folks you know in your soon-to-be neck of the woods and ask questions of agents on the active Q-and-A pages of the big national real estate listing websites to develop a short list of agents to meet with.
Ask these agents to refer you to local mortgage professionals. Although most lenders are national, local mortgage brokers and bankers know what local financing challenges may exist; they know local appraisers; and they also know about opportunities like city and state down payment assistance programs.
Contact them, make appointments, then take a day trip to your intended hometown and meet with these folks face to face to find a great personality fit. When you feel like you’ve created a good connection with one real estate pro in particular, you might even ask him to give you a tour of a number of homes that are currently on the market, so you can get a real-time reality check on what price range of homes you’ll be aiming for.
2. Explain every part of your financial and job situation to both of your pros. Well before you quit your job, perhaps even while you’re meeting with these agents and mortgage pros, explain your financial, job and timing situation to them. Don’t miss out on the expert knowledge these professionals have, as well as their up-to-date experience of what lenders will want and will require from you. Talk with them about what specific paperwork you’ll need to produce in order to document that your next job is in the same line of work as this one. And keep all of these things in mind as you execute your relocation, your home purchase and your job hunt.
3. Work with your chosen real estate and mortgage pro to put an intentionally sequenced action plan in place. With so many moving parts in the air, don’t be surprised if some advise you to get a job, move and then rent a place on a month-to-month lease while you house hunt. Others may tell you to try to time it all perfectly, house and job hunting at the same time.
Personally, I’m inclined to eliminate any intense time pressures from the house-hunt experience whenever possible to minimize panic-based (i.e., bad) decision-making, so I would encourage you not to create a situation in which you have to close a home purchase by a certain date in order to have a place to live when you start your new job or have similar pressures in that vein.