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Closing on Your Home While Out of Town

What you'll learn:How to handle paperwork, staging, and payments so you can close remotely.


Closing on Your Home While Out of Town

Buying and selling a house is complicated enough. But what do you do when moving to another state and you won’t be in the area to sign on the dotted line or stage your old place to sell? Fortunately, remote closings are becoming increasingly common and options are available to make it all possible.

Here are four potential hurdles and accompanying solutions when buying and selling properties from afar.

Hurdle #1: Too much to keep track of

A real estate transaction is much more than an agreement between a buyer and a seller. There’s typically a broker or agent to facilitate the purchase, a home inspector and appraiser to review the property, a lender to provide funding for a mortgage, and a title company or lawyer to close the sale. Feeling overwhelmed already? You’re not alone!

Matters become more complicated when a cross-country move is involved. You’re already busy comparing moving costs and preparing to start a new job. Is there any way to know who to contact and what they’ll need from you before you leave?

The solution: Find the right real estate agent

A real estate agent is one of the most important people in your home buying or selling process. They’ll act as your guide as you navigate through listings, showings, negotiations, and – yes – closings. They’ll field calls from different parties and ensure you don't miss any steps along the way.

To find the right agent, look for someone licensed, experienced in the area you need, and who makes you feel comfortable. Be sure to ask about their experience with remote closings and specific examples of clients in a similar situation. If you’re moving to another state, you’ll likely need separate agents for buying and selling.

Hurdle #2: Staging your home to sell

What happens if you’re moving across the country to start a new job before your old house sells? Your agent is handling most of the logistics, but there’s no denying your old place looks drab and barren without furniture and decorations. Not the look you’re going for when you hope to find a buyer that’ll pay top dollar.

According to the National Association of REALTORS© (NAR) 2021 Profile of Home Staging, 82% of buyers’ agents said staging a home made it easier for a buyer to visualize the property as a future home. Staging the living room was found to be most important for buyers (46%), followed by the master bedroom (43%), and the kitchen (35%). How can you make these spaces more appealing to potential buyers?

The solution: Hire home staging services

Home staging companies help make a house look and feel its best. This can be accomplished through updated decor, rearranged furniture, and even photography for use on listing websites. Though it’s hard to measure buyer perceptions, many industry experts believe staging can lead to faster sales, higher offers, and fewer seller concessions.

If you’re interested in getting help with staging, make that part of your conversation when vetting real estate agents. Some agents may include staging as part of their scope of services.

Hurdle #3: Handling payments

It’s a few days before closing and you’re asked to make a payment of $20,000 to cover the down payment and closing costs. Credit cards and digital wallets have made our society no stranger to cashless transactions, but how does that look for real estate? How do you make such a big payment from afar or accept tens of thousands of dollars from a buyer when your house sells?

The solution: Learn how to wire funds safely

A wire transfer is an electronic money transfer usually reserved for larger transactions. They’re faster than an ACH transfers, typically arriving in 24 hours. It’s important to note that if the recipient receives the funds, the transfer can’t be reversed.

While that’s great news when you’re working under a tight closing timeline, it also means criminals have found ways to take advantage of consumers trying to initiate wire transfers during the home buying process. And when the scammer receives the funds, they can’t be returned. Learn more about safely wiring funds for closing.

Hurdle #4: Signing and sending documents

If it sounds like lots of people are involved in real estate purchases, just consider the paperwork. A California real estate agent estimated 180 sheets were required for one deal! Contracts, records, disclosures, and reports are all part of the required documentation.

So should you worry about documents going back and forth via snail mail or that you won’t be around to sign with your closing agent or mortgage lender on closing day? Or worse, that you may need to buy a plane ticket to be there in person?

The solution: Use digital signatures

In 2022, this is one obstacle that’s no longer an obstacle. Real estate agents use secure digital programs that allow for valid e-signatures. And if a particular document, such as something from an attorney, requires a physical signature, overnight delivery has you covered.

With so many things to consider when moving out of state, there's no need to be plagued by how to close on your home. Trustworthy professionals and digital services are available to help with any hurdle you may face.



Preparing for a move?  Find more resources in our Mortgage Knowledge Center.

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Apply before becoming a member.

After your application, we’ll help you:

1. Discover you’re eligible to become a PenFed member

2. Open a Savings/Share Account and deposit at least $5