House Hunting vs. Summer Travel: Can You Do Both?

By late spring, homebuying season is in full swing. And right when all the good listings start popping up, so does summer wanderlust — especially if you were cooped up all winter.

House hunting can be exhausting, especially in today’s competitive market. So if you need a vacation, are you throwing away your shot at success?

Karen Wilder, a real estate agent with Mott & Chace Sotheby’s International Realty in Charlestown, Rhode Island, doesn’t think so.

“Sometimes, it can be the best thing for your search for you to just take a little time off,” she says.

If you want to travel and house-hunt at the same time, you have to plan ahead and consider your short- and long-term goals. Here’s how to balance the homebuying process with a much-needed summer getaway.

Weigh your priorities

First, gut-check your travel plans against FOMO: the fear of missing out. In a hot market, home shoppers need to act fast when a great house gets listed. Maybe you have a truly can’t-miss trip — say, your bestie’s destination wedding or a major work conference. But if you have the option to schedule your travel later, it might be worth it to wait.

To help you decide, consider how you’d feel if “the” house came along while you were out of town. Would you regret not being there for an in-person walkthrough? Would you rather be on the beach than on the phone with your buyer’s agent?

“Everybody needs to consider their own comfort level with shopping remotely — their own sort of FOMO when it comes to going away and unplugging,” Wilder says.

The homebuying process is less familiar for first-time home buyers, who might prefer to handle things in person. In her experience, Wilder notes that seasoned real estate buyers or investors are often more comfortable with overseeing a transaction from a distance.

Find a proxy

Krystal Stearns, branch manager at Valor Home Loans in Colorado Springs, Colorado, is one of those seasoned pros. She has purchased six properties across three states without seeing any of them in person first. Digital tools like virtual walk-throughs and listing videos can help, but nothing beats a boots-on-the-ground perspective, she says.

Before you travel, ask an experienced buyer’s agent, trusted friend or family member to attend walk-throughs or open houses on your behalf. When Stearns bought her Florida vacation home sight unseen, she knew she could trust her buyer’s agent to give candid feedback on the place.

“You really need someone who is going to be honest with you, that’s going to look out for you and your family and understand your goals,” she says.

If any must-see listings arise while you’re away, your proxy can walk through the house with you in real time on a video call. They might notice things the listing photos can’t fully capture, from a breathtaking view to a troublesome odor.

“You cannot scratch and sniff online,” Wilder says.

Stay plugged in

Unless you can accommodate a complete pause on your homebuying journey, it’s wise to remain somewhat connected during your travels.

“It might not be the time to climb Mount Everest or, you know, go somewhere completely off the grid,” Wilder says.

Heading on a cruise or long flight? Buy the Wi-Fi. Going camping? Bring a portable power bank to charge your devices (and make sure its battery is full before you leave). Share your travel plans with your buyer’s agent and mortgage team so they know the best way to reach you and how quickly you’re able to respond.

If you’re under contract, your homebuying squad can explain which time-sensitive requests to expect and who will be sending them. For example, if your loan is in underwriting, you might have to submit recent bank statements or pay stubs. Following a home inspection, you’ll want to review the inspection report and negotiate any requests for repairs.

“A closing is, you know, three to four weeks,” Stearns says. “A lot happens in that time period.”

Before you reply to any urgent-sounding emails, check the sender’s address to make sure the request is legit. If something looks off, it could be a mortgage closing scam. Identity criminals can send convincing lookalike emails that attempt to steal your money or personal information.

Watch your spending

A home is one of the biggest purchases you’ll ever make, so now isn’t the time to drain your savings. Before you leave, make a travel budget and stick to it. That’ll save you the stress (or regret) of wondering if you can afford something while you’re in vacation mode.

After mortgage preapproval, lenders keep a close watch on your finances. While you’re traveling, avoid making any unexpected large purchases or opening new lines of credit (like signing up for that airline credit card offer after too many tiny bottles of wine on the plane). Doing so could affect your credit score or debt-to-income ratio, potentially putting your loan approval at risk.

Ultimately, buying a house while enjoying summer travel is possible if you plan ahead and remain reachable by phone or email. It all depends on how you prefer to spend your time.

“Life is short, so live your life as much as you possibly can,” Stearns says. “Don’t let a vacation stop you from buying a house, and don’t let buying a house stop you from going on vacation. Just know it’s going to be a little bit of extra work.”