As a result of remote work and the changes brought on by the pandemic, people are moving, many out of state, and helping out-of-state buyers requires a unique approach to customer service.
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Key takeaways:

  • It’s important to manage expectations up front, which means open and honest communication is a must.
  • Educate your buyers not just on the market in your area, but what it’s like to live in your area.
  • Get to know your buyers and the reasons they’re moving, so you can understand what want in a new home and location.

Latham Jenkins, associate broker and partner at Live Water Properties in Jackson Hole, Wyo., warns potential clients who want to move to that region that they might encounter a big moose in the driveway or face 400 inches of snow to shovel each winter.

“I don’t paint a picture that’s not true or that’s not in line with their expectations,” says Jenkins.

Wyoming is known for its tax friendliness, and Jackson Hole offers residents a ski resort lifestyle in a small-town setting. While it boasts a modest population of 23,000, Jenkins says, from 2019 through 2021, the area reported growth of 222 percent. Home sales rocketed from $922 million to $2.97 billion, much of which was fueled by out-of-state buyers.

With many companies moving to remote or hybrid work because of the pandemic, proximity to a physical workplace isn't as important, which means people can move to places they might not have thought about before. Some people want more space and better access to nature. Others who have lived the big city life want a completely different atmosphere, while yet others who want to move closer to family.

Jackson Hole isn’t the only location people are moving to en masse. Many people are rushing to Dallas as well.

“The rule of real estate used to be location,” says Rogers Healy, owner and CEO of Rogers Healy and Associates Real Estate in Dallas. “It has shifted to affordability, with places like Dallas, Utah, Arizona, and Georgia (leading the way).”

Healy leads a team of 500 real estate professionals, many of whom work with out-of-state buyers. The city saw quick expansion industrially, residentially, and commercially a few months after the pandemic hit. People and companies moved to Dallas for opportunities, space, a more moderate climate, and a metropolitan feel without the bustle of Los Angeles, New York City, or Chicago, he adds.

Plus, Dallas will not be running out of space any time soon, Healy says, because there is potential growth in all four directions.

He makes clear that the initial phone call is an important opportunity to let out-of-state clients know what the market looks like and what they can expect as they enter the buying process.

“The most important thing to do in that initial phone call or meeting is to manage expectations and manage reality. They need to hear what we have to say, or we are wasting everyone’s time,” he adds.

Buying is tough right now in Dallas, Healy says. People are making offer after offer on house after house, and they still aren’t securing a contract, even as they drop contingencies and submit thousands over asking price.

Healy lets prospective clients know that in his market, it’s not uncommon for a buyer’s wish list to go from dream house to a place they can live in the next three to five years.

The reality in today’s market is that things continue to evolve, which is why it’s important to let out-of-state buyers know all the pertinent details up front and keep in constant communication. Jenkins and Healy offer these other tips to handling all the nuances of working with out-of-state buyers:

Get a full picture from the start.

During the initial phone call or meeting, make sure to ask what the client is looking for not only in a home but also in a location. They are leaving their current community for a reason, and it helps to understand that. Ask them what they are looking for with the move. That information paints a realistic picture of what their client genuinely wants. “I go much deeper asking how they go about their day now, and how they would see their day going in Wyoming,” Jenkins states.

Position yourself as the expert.

“The best agents will have a list of three different chimney sweeps, three best pizza places, and more on their phone at all times,” Healy adds. Helping your new clients who move to a new place may need a lot of support getting acclimated and finding the right vendors for their new life. REALTORS® can ease that struggle. “We are still REALTORS®, and our job is to be the shepherd for the city. We can help them meet other people and become part of the community,” he remarks.

Tell it all: the good, the bad, the different.

Offer as much information about the areas as possible, especially if they’ve never even visited. Jenkins writes and publishes a digital magazine about Jackson Hole, which provides a wealth of knowledge to his clients. Though an agent might not go to the same extent, creating a relocation guide is a terrific way to give out-of-state buyers all the information they need in one place. Make sure to include links to the city, the chamber or visitor’s bureau, a community calendar, climate information across the seasons, a brief list of area activities, and other information you think they might find useful.

Stay true to yourself.

Authenticity goes a long way. You don’t want to try to sell something that might not work for the buyer, especially an out-of-state buyer who is relying on you for expertise and direction. “Be yourself and never waver from what is right,” says Healy. “I think now more than ever people need leadership and honesty. Don’t sell your soul for a dollar. You will regret it.”

Act as the coordinator.

Help them plan their visit to either get acquainted with the area or look at available homes. “I try and encourage them to come out as soon as they can with a face-to-face visit, and I show them all the different neighborhoods that fit into their family size, educational needs, employment, and budget,” Jenkins says.

Thoughtful and strategic planning is needed to help clients who don’t know a particular area understand whether a town—or state, even—is right for them. Jenkins, and all agents who are experts in their communities, are tasked with helping out-of-state buyers figure it all out.

But creating a system to educate out-of-towners with such items as in-depth tours and pamphlets or links to the area’s important amenities can ease these out-of-state clients’ stress. Giving them a sense of what it’s like to live in that area can also give them a reality check so they don’t get there and decide they made a mistake.