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Expat’s Guide To Buying A Home In Washington, DC

Buying A Home In Washington, DC

Moving to America’s capital is an exciting prospect. There’s a lot to look forward to. This fascinating city has much to offer – from great job opportunities to year-round cultural activities. Additionally, it boasts excellent outdoor areas, outstanding schools, and cuisines from all over the world. The weather is hot and humid in summer, cold and snowy in winter, with particularly enchanting fall months.

Washington, DC is especially popular among expats for many reasons. Many of them find jobs in foreign embassies and non-profit or international organizations. Also, Washington, DC attracts many foreign students who want to study at George Washington University, Georgetown, American University, etc. Unfortunately, all this means that the real estate market is among the most expensive in the US. There is a variety of housing options, but demand is high. So, if you’re buying a home in Washington, DC, there, here are some things you should know.

How does buying property in the US work?

Before you decide to buy a home in Washington, DC, you should learn more about the current US housing market as well as how the purchasing process differs from your country. Whether you’re a citizen or not, you can buy and own property in the US. If you plan to pay in cash, the process is relatively simple.

However, if you need a mortgage loan, you’ll have to take some extra steps. What loans you’re eligible for will depend on your residency status (permanent resident with a green card, non-permanent resident with a work visa, etc.). As a foreigner, you might experience some difficulties finding a lender due to the complexity of assessing risks. You’ll need to build your credit history and boost your credit score. Additionally, it would be a good idea to get approved for a mortgage before purchase.

Assess your budget

The next necessary step is to estimate your budget. Before purchasing your dream home in Washington, DC, take into account all possible expenses. Apart from hiring a realtor and mortgage advisor, there are some costs of closing the purchase. If you’re not paying in cash, consider the down payment and interest rate, too. Also, the sale price of your new home is not the only expense you’ll have. For example, if you opt for buying an apartment, there are monthly maintenance and upkeep fees. Additionally, homeowners in the US have to pay annual property taxes. So, before the purchase, don’t forget to consider future costs, too.

Learn more about various housing options

After you determine your budget, you also need to consider your housing wishes and needs. Also, if you’re moving abroad with your family, you’ll have more aspects to think about. There are plenty of housing options in Washington, DC, and what you buy will depend on your specific needs and circumstances. Here are some of the options:

  • apartments – they’re the most common type of housing and range from studio apartments to multi-bedroom lofts and penthouses; naturally, the price will depend on location and size
  • townhouses – also known as row houses (Victorian-style homes set in rows along the street)
  • single-family homes – these are located out of the city center and are ideal for families with children
A row of colorful townhouses available for buying in Washington, DC.
If you’re buying a home in Washington, DC, consider charming and spacious townhouses

Find a reliable real estate agent before buying a home in Washington, DC

While you can hunt and purchase a home on your own, finding a trustworthy realtor will help you avoid the most common mistakes. Find someone who knows the local market inside out and can provide you with valuable advice. Also, your agent should be able to help you with all your transactions and paperwork. Finding a realtor with CIPS (Certified International Property Specialists) designation would be of great help as they’ll know everything you need for buying a home as an expat. Interview several agents and check their referrals before you find the realtor who’ll have your best interests at heart.

Choose the right neighborhood/location

What many expats forget is that Washington, DC has a population of only about 700 000 people, and there’s not much available housing in the city center. Instead, many people opt to live in the wider Washington metropolitan area and surrounding suburbs. They commute to work by metro, bus, or their own car. However, if you want to hunt for a perfect home in the broader area, you might need a realtor with a license to work in a different state. Some areas of the Washington metropolitan area belong to Virginia or Maryland, so don’t forget to take that into account.

Before you can start making your home abroad feel like home, you need to find your ideal house. Naturally, take some time and research different neighborhoods and locations to find the one that best suits your wishes and needs. For example, students often choose Georgetown due to its vicinity to the university. It’s also popular with expats who work in foreign embassies in this area. On the other hand, families often opt for DuPont Circle or Anacostia. So, explore all possibilities and choose the neighborhood that best suits your lifestyle.

Plan your relocation in advance

Another good idea is to plan your move ahead of time. As you probably know, relocation can be a stressful process, especially a long-distance one! And when you already have so much on your plate (from buying a home to adapting to a new environment), it’s best to avoid as much stress as possible. Finding and securing reliable Washington, DC movers in advance is the key to a smooth transition into your new home. If you join forces with professionals when it comes to relocation, you’ll be able to focus on more important things. Not to mention all your belongings will be safely and quickly transported to your new home.

A couple after moving to their new Washington, DC home
After the successful relocation, you can enjoy your new home and start a new chapter in your life

Final thoughts

Although it may seem overwhelming at first, buying a home in Washington, DC is also an exciting task. With a bit of research and determination, you’ll be able to find a home that will perfectly suit both your budget and preferences. Follow this guide and find the home you’ll enjoy in years to come.