The 13th-most populous state in the USA, Washington, is a jewel of the Pacific Northwest. From the beauty and urban splendor of the Seattle metropolitan area to the rolling farmland near Spokane, there’s something in Washington for everyone. It’s no wonder that people are moving to Washington State in droves. Whether you’re a Washington resident moving within the state or an out-of-state resident coming to Washington for the first time, there are a number of things you should do before moving, including downsizing your possessions, setting up utilities and getting a home loan pre-approval for a potential mortgage.

In this article, we’ll look at five key steps to take before you move.

Renting or buying?

One key thing to consider before you start on your checklist is whether you’re planning on renting a home or purchasing one. While many of the steps of a move are similar for both renters and homeowners, others may be quite different.

1. For buyers: get a home loan pre-approval

The hunt for the perfect home can take weeks or even months If you’re moving from elsewhere in the country (or even further away), many transplants to Washington State rent for a period of time before they look to purchase. However, in blazing-hot real estate markets like much of Washington, it’s vital to be able to turn offers around quickly. If you find a house you love but have to go to your bank for mortgage information before you put in your offer, chances are the house will be sold to someone else before you’re back.

So, what’s the solution? The answer is to get pre-approved or prequalified for a mortgage by a lender operating in the area you’re looking to move to. This is, essentially, a letter from a home mortgage provider that tells prospective home sellers the amount of money the lender is willing to contribute. This means that the seller knows the prospective buyer isn’t just talking hot air but actually has a reputable institution backing their offer.

In other words, if two individuals show up at a home and have similar offers, but one has a home loan pre-approval they can show the seller that day and the other doesn’t, the former has a much better chance of getting their dream home than the latter does.

Home loan pre-approval or prequalification can be a great tool in your arsenal when you’re buying your house in Washington, from Tacoma to Spokane and everything in between. However, it’s very important to keep your home loan pre-approval amount, like any mortgage, within your means. Just because a mortgage provider can offer a certain sum of money doesn’t mean you should go for the maximum.

2. For renters: make sure your insurance is in order

While at the end of the day homebuyers are accountable primarily to themselves and their home loan providers, whether pre-approved or otherwise, renters have obligations to landlords. Depending on where you are renting in the state, speed may be just as important in renting as it is in purchasing a home. In Seattle, for instance, landlords are required by law to rent to the first qualified applicant.

This means that if you have everything in order that landlords typically require, like renters’ insurance, you can secure that home much more quickly, letting you be that first qualified applicant. So make sure your paperwork is in order before you start looking for places to live in Washington State.

3. Downsize your inventory

This is a tip that applies to renters and home purchasers alike: it’s a lot easier to move when you have less stuff. Not only is this true of the actual move itself (fewer boxes to pack on your U-Haul), but it’s true once you’ve moved in too. Having fewer possessions will give you more flexibility in setting up your new home just how you like it, will mean fewer boxes full of unused items gathering dust in the corner of your garage and can honestly be something of a liberating experience.

So, in the words of Marie Kondo, consider whether the items you have “spark joy” or not before you pack them up. Clothes can be donated, furniture given to Goodwill or Habitat for Humanity organizations that help the needy. Downsize what you can, and your move will be much easier.

4. Set up utilities

This is a problem faced more by owners than renters, but it’s worth doing all the same: make sure your utilities turn on or transfer to your name the day you move into your new home. Since sellers typically turn off the utility arrangements when they move out, you’ll need to do the same when you come in.

Imagine moving into your new home and there’s no lighting or water or moving into a new apartment to discover you have to wait days before you get Wi-Fi—what a disaster that would be. Set up your utility arrangements beforehand, not afterward, to save yourself some cold, internet-free nights.

5. Update all your address information

The postal service can forward your mail for a time, but at the end of the day, you’re going to need to update all your information yourself. You get so much in the mail that updating mailing addresses on various sites—Amazon, your financial institution, your car payments, you name it—is a massive undertaking. So make a list of all the mail you regularly get and make a note to change your address in all of them once you move into your new home. Thankfully, you can continue updating things as you get forwarded mail, but why wait?

These are just a few of the things you should know before you move in Washington State. If you’re looking for home loan pre-approval or prequalification, contact a local lending institution such as the professionals at Solidarity Credit Union. We’ve been faithfully serving our Washington-based communities for many years. Why go with a megacorporation bank that doesn’t know your neighborhood as we do? Contact Solidarity Credit Union for your home loan pre-approval today.

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