Have you decided to make the big move to Eugene? Congratulations! We think you’re going to like it here.
But before you pack your U-Haul and set off merrily onto the open road, there are a few things you’ll want to know. Relocation presents challenges on both the practical and emotional levels. That’s the case even if you’re moving from one home to another in the same city. Make the leap to another city, state, or even country, and the pitfalls are magnified.
With the right approach, however, the rewards can be just as deep. By following the tips below, you’ll be feeling at home in no time. That’s our goal for all of our clients, and we hope to help make your relocation a smooth one.
Step Number One: Do Your Homework
This one goes almost without saying, but you’ll want to learn as much as possible about Eugene before you move here.
This is true whether you’re moving here because you’re attracted to the area or whether you’re compelled by work, family, or schooling-related circumstances. Depending on just where you land, your experience of Eugene could be vastly different.
We’ve designed our site to be a resource for aspiring Eugenians to get the lay of the land. Find out why other people across the country are moving to Eugene. Learn about Eugene neighborhoods or take a peek at our own list of Eugene’s 5 best neighborhoods.
You probably know already, but it needs to be said: it rains in the Pacific Northwest. You’ll get used to it, probably, and you’ll get to enjoy some of the country’s finest summers (not a lot of rain there.) You might have heard about the allergies, too. People sometimes develop tree pollen and grass allergies here.
Ideally, of course, you’ll want to visit Eugene before you take the plunge. Feel the vibe. Tour the streets. Attend some events. Spend some time in both the rain and the shine. Your Eugene life will have both.
What you’re really going to need to do your homework on, though, is the housing market, particularly if you’re looking for affordable housing. More on that in a bit.
Step Number Two: Get a Handle on the Rental Market
In all likelihood, deciding whether or not Eugene is right for you will be the easy part. Actually getting your foot in the door is where it gets tricky. It isn’t the all-out dogfight that getting a place in, say, Manhattan might be, but you’re in for a steeper challenge than in many cities Eugene’s size.
The most important material matter in play is that Eugene’s housing inventory is stupendously low. This is true whether you’re buying a home or renting. Properties go fast. By the time you see a listing online, there’s probably already a stack of applications on the property manager’s desk or half a dozen above-list offers on that cute little bungalow on a nice street.
Time is of the essence. Maybe the best advice we can give is to temper your expectations. Unless you have deep pockets, just try to get whatever foot in the door you can. That probably means finding a rental before you leap into the real estate market.
If possible, spend a couple of weeks in Eugene house-hunting and keeping your eyes and ears open. Have enough of a sense of what you want, rental-wise, that you’ll be prepared to put in an application at the earliest possible moment.
Looking for a rental before you land here is definitely possible, but you’re going to want to have a helping hand on the ground. Many Eugene rentals require a viewing beforehand. We’re more than happy though to look at properties on your behalf, connect you with rental owners, and help you work out the myriad logistics of relocation.
Most rentals in Eugene are managed by one of several handfuls of larger property management companies. Especially if you’re looking for work, have poor credit, or have a non-traditional source of income, the going can be rough.
Contact managers beforehand and try to find out if you have a chance before you throw money down the drain paying application fees. Know which companies allow you to apply to multiple properties with a single application. Be on the lookout for owner-managed rentals, and establish a rapport with the owner.
When the going gets rough, remember your original inspiration. The Eugene life is yours to be had, and once you’ve gotten your feet on the ground, you can expect a warm welcome.
Step Number Three: Get Settled, and Seize the Day
This is the fun part. Once you’ve started to feel more at home (finding a place to live helps), you can start to spread your roots. Get out there and explore. Make connections. Whatever your motivation is for coming to Eugene, there’s bound to be ways to plug in.
For some of you, this step might involve finding a job. Okay, that’s probably not so much fun. There’s some good news on that front though. As of publication, Google reports (via the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics) that Eugene’s unemployment rate is only 3.6%. That’s well below Oregon’s average of 4.1% and below the national average.
With the University of Oregon’s student population rising to well above 20,000, higher education is an obvious source for jobs. But the tech industry is also booming.
Eugene’s Register-Guard reports that nearly two dozen tech local companies have started in the past year. The average annual pay for these new jobs: an impressive $74,343. Fed up with the high cost of living in Seattle and the Bay Area? Then head here to the Silicon Shire. Your skills will be very welcome here.
Step Number Four: Learn about the Eugene Real Estate Market
You knew that we were going to get here eventually, right? Real estate is our expertise, our livelihood, our raison d’etre. We’re here to help you find your home and feel at home, both in the literal and metaphorical sense.
There are a lot of steps you’ll need to work through in between deciding that you’re ready to own a home and actually owning one. For that matter, it’s going to take some time before you can be clear that you’re even ready to leap into the market.
Now, this advice is going to sound counter-intuitive, but we think you ought to consider working with a Realtor as early in that process as possible. To know whether you’re ready to own a home, you’re going to need to know what the market is like and just how far your own finances will get you.
Most people nowadays begin by researching the market on their own. Zillow, Redfin, Trulia, Realtor.com, et al are great resources for prospective homebuyers. The problem is that online listings can be highly deceptive.
You won’t actually know what a home is really like until you step foot inside. And unless you’re a professional contractor, an experienced agent will notice a lot that you probably won’t. They’ll also be able to translate what they see into monetary value.
Knowing whether a home is over-priced or under-priced is absolutely crucial when it comes to setting your own expectations and, later, in making a successful bid. Importantly, your Realtor can connect you with a trustworthy lender who will help you figure out just how far you can stretch your finances.
Crucially, you also won’t know what you want until you’ve seen at least a handful of homes. More likely, you’ll need to see several handfuls of homes before you know what your real priorities are.
The thing is, in Eugene’s highly competitive market, you won’t find anything that checks off all the boxes unless you’re really lucky. Since you’ll probably need to make some compromises, it’s crucial to know just where you can compromise and where you absolutely can’t.
Basically, we suggest that you don’t start looking at homes with the idea that you’re going to be making bids right away. We’ll get there, don’t worry. In the beginning though, let your Realtor help you dip your toes into the market.
It’s true that some agents don’t want to work with buyers who aren’t firmly committed. The solution is simple: don’t work with those agents!
We, for one, are more than happy to help orient you. We love showing homes, whether or not it ends in a sale. That’s why we’re Realtors!
Step Five: Get Ready to Make an Offer
As you’ve probably figured out already, it’s good to arrive at this most crucial stage of finding your home in a deliberate, step-by-step fashion.
A lot of people these days are “stealth buyers,” meaning they peruse online listings for a while, find what they think is “the one,” then do a drive-by. If the place looks good from the outside, they’ll then dial the listing agent’s number off the sign.
Unfortunately, that’s not a great way to go about this whole business. First of all, you’ve set yourself up for disappointment. What are you going to see when you get inside? And if you’re working with the listing agent, how likely are they to reveal their opinion of how much it’s really worth?
When an agent is working with both the buyer and seller, this is what we call “dual agency.” Has a kind of sneaky, spy movie feel to it, doesn’t it?
Realtors are of course required to deal with these situations as ethically and impartially as possible. But for obvious reasons, it’s just better to have someone working for you exclusively and not for the seller. Think about it: how can a single Realtor both get their seller the highest price and you, the buyer, the lowest possible price?
If you’ve followed our advice, you’ve already been inside plenty of homes with your Realtor and really honed in on what you want and can afford. Congratulations: that’s half the battle.
But let’s say a promising new listing pops up. Your Realtor gets you inside right away. It’s not quite perfect, but you’ve seen enough of what’s out there to know that this could be the one. Your spouse or partner agrees (let’s not forget that part.)
It’s time now to make an offer. This, of course, is where the rubber hits the road.
Desirable listings in Eugene tend to go off the market in days. A day, even: take away the plural. That’s why all of the prep work you’ve done up to now is so crucial. You have to be ready to pull the trigger when the right place comes up.
Don’t be trigger-shy, but also don’t be trigger-happy. Your agent, knowing you as well as they do by now, can help steer you away from properties that strike a temporary resonance but may cause future regrets.
The crucial question at this juncture is usually “How much?” If a property is desirable and priced competitively, in Eugene you can almost count on multiple offers above list price.
Our advice here is simple: don’t make an offer that you’ll regret. A skilled agent will have a good sense of what kind of an offer will be competitive. It’s up to you to decide whether you can make that offer or whether you’d rather lowball it.
We’ve gone into much further detail in our article “Tips for Home Buyers in a Tight Real Estate Market.”
Check it out, and also get in touch with us. We’ll work with you from Step Number One all the way through Step Number Five, and even beyond. Of course, you’ll also want to get a sense of what’s on the market right now: look at Eugene homes currently for sale.
We’re still giving clients advice who we worked with almost ten years ago! This is a journey that never really ends, and we’re ready to help you every step of the way.