Whether you are relocating for work, buying a home where your child plans to attend college, or have another reason altogether, buying a home out of state can be uniquely challenging. You don't have intimate local knowledge of neighborhoods or school districts, and you don't have the luxury of spending weeks or months keeping an eye on "for sale" signs that pop up over time. In order to navigate this unique real estate challenge, just follow these three tips when looking at homes for sale out of state:

Hire an Experienced Local Real Estate Agent

Your new real estate agent should know the city where you're buying your home inside and out. If a home looks great on paper but is in an unsafe neighborhood, or if you seem to be focusing on a part of town that is outside your budget, your real estate agent will guide you back on course. Since you won't be able to meet your real estate agent in person, at least not until you come out to look at homes, be sure to schedule a video meeting. You can also email them notes with your house hunting preferences.

Your real estate agent can also streamline the showings process for you so that when you come to town for a house hunting visit, you can see the most promising homes on your list in a short period of time.

Apply for a Loan Early

The process for getting approved for a mortgage in another state can be more complicated than a typical mortgage application. It's a good idea to find a mortgage lender in your new state and begin the application process as early as possible. This way, if you need to submit additional documentation, you will still have time to get pre-approved before you find your dream home.

Take Advantage of Online Tours

One great thing about today's real estate market is that many home listings now include professional, panoramic photography and video tours. You can really get a feel for what a home looks like before you even get to town. If there's a home you're especially interested in, your real estate agent may be willing to visit it on your behalf to make sure the photos are accurate.

Following these tips and working closely with your real estate agent will make the process of buying a home out of state much easier and less stressful.