Do you buy a house before or after starting a new job?
September 15, 2020 1:42 PM   Subscribe

Buying a house across the country during a global pandemic while job hunting - what's the order of operations here? I have a solid job history and nearly perfect credit and would like to do this right.

Because Reasons, I would like to leave my job of 3.5 years as soon as possible. I also want to move to Texas from Michigan with my husband (who has been unemployed since April due to COVID) and our cats. We want to buy a house. My job is remote "for now" but that will change as soon as the Michigan governor changes the rules. Because Michigan is in another spike, this might not be until 2021.

There's all kinds of advice about doing all of this online but not a lot of it is COVID related. Obviously, I can just pick up and go now before I find another job - if I get called back into the building, I can stay with my folks who live in the area until I find another job. But is that the right move? I've read that mortgage providers, besides verifying your employment, might ask my employer if it's okay that the house is 1000 miles away from my office. I would rather not have that conversation take place. ((Employer)) said I could not move from this area and keep my job. I am only looking at fully remote jobs.

The other option is to get the new job first and then attempt to buy, but will a job change look terrible if my salary is the same (or more), same line of work, but maybe a more stable company?   I have not had time between jobs in over 20 years and my last job lasted 15 years. I am not 100% confident that ((Employer)) will not do another round of layoffs.

The industry I'm in is such that I should be able to find a new job soon, at least by EOY. Affordability of the house on one income is not in question, and I would honestly prefer to move while Mr. Getawaysticks is not working. We have credit scores in the 800 range if that matters.

Further complications to the timeline are 1) Winter is coming and I'd like to avoid it and 2) the interest rates are rock bottom. Property values where we are looking are high-ish, but not high enough that we would want to pay the VERY HIGH RENT there now.

Do we buy before I find a new job or after? I can also ask our bank but I didn't know if even asking the question would put pre-approval at risk. You are not my mortgage officer. Thanks for any thoughts!
posted by getawaysticks to Work & Money (7 answers total)
 
same line of work

That's what matters - being in the same role or same industry for at least the last 2 years.
posted by NotMyselfRightNow at 1:52 PM on September 15


I would find the job first! What if they pay for relocation?
posted by bbqturtle at 2:07 PM on September 15


I've read that mortgage providers, besides verifying your employment, might ask my employer if it's okay that the house is 1000 miles away from my office.

They absolutely do this, and they're doing it extra hard during COVID. I am in HR, and I field these conversations with mortgage folks all the time.

And it's not gonna get fast tracked by someone who's only paying half attention on the phone, either. My work has really great support for remote working and no problem with people working far from a home office, and I tell the mortgage people this, but they always follow up in email with a SO TO BE EXTRA SUPER CLEAR and make me say it again in writing, promising that we will not reduce hours or adjust down for COL or anything similar if they move away.

(To be fair to your current employer, it is a gigantic pain in the ass to set up taxing for another state and to have to start filing in another state just for the one knucklehead who decides that they absolutely must run off to live in, for instance, California when your business is set up and has all its employees in Michigan. Let alone having to speed learn local employment law for that one knucklehead. If the place you work doesn't have an out of state presence, it's not them being mean to you for no reason. It's them being practical.)
posted by phunniemee at 3:01 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


@phunniemee - Right, I get it with the taxes for states and such. I was that knucklehead going in the other direction when I moved up to Michigan! :) But they do have remote people in other states, it's just a culture thing with this one branch of the company that I am in. (Thanks!)
posted by getawaysticks at 4:02 PM on September 15


As a manager, I have had two employees buy houses far away from our office -- once last year (pre-Covid) and once this year. In both cases, their lender required my company to provide a letter on company letterhead asserting that the job could be done remotely and also that their compensation would stay the same. With the most recent situation, my (new) company has a process where you need to ask permission to work remotely. My employee and I discovered this AFTER he put his house up for sale here, made an offer on a new house there, and needed that letter to get the mortgage approved. Fortunately, the company approved the remote work, but that is the kind of thing I would want to know before I put my house on the market!
posted by elmay at 4:19 PM on September 15


The other option is to get the new job first and then attempt to buy, but will a job change look terrible if my salary is the same (or more), same line of work, but maybe a more stable company?

You move to a new area and get a new remote job, and then want to buy a house there. This is extraordinarily common. I don't understand why a bank would hesitate to give someone a loan because they have a new job after having been in one for 15 years. You have excellent credit and you expect to have a job that pays the same. Are you worried this will look bad because it's not a promotion? I don't think the bank cares about your job title. Your bank wants to see your income and debt.

All of this is to say: unless I'm missing something, I think this is just fine.
posted by bluedaisy at 4:46 PM on September 15 [1 favorite]


Awesome, thanks everyone for the replies! I figured I was overthinking this, but I've been burned before on home buying.
posted by getawaysticks at 8:08 PM on September 15


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