8 Reasons to Fall in Love with Loudoun County

8 Reasons to Fall in Love with Loudoun County

Contemplating a move to Loudoun? Loudoun County is far more than just a pretty suburb of Washington, DC. It’s family-friendly, safe and offers “country living” right outside the nation’s capital. Loudoun has a small town feel with its local small businesses, farmers markets, close-knit neighborhoods, and friendly residents. However, when you are ready for a night out in the big city, DC is just a quick trip away. Many residents love this small town/big city balance because it makes living life in Loudoun anything but boring!

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How to Tour A Home Like A Pro

How to Tour A Home Like A Pro

You pull into the driveway of a home you have been eyeing online for days and you're ready to tour a home, finally! The exterior looks just as it did on the internet - nice yard and you love the landscaping. So far, so good! Your Realtor opens the front door for you and smiles encouragingly. You step inside and take your first look around. Now what?

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How to attend an open house

It can be a lot of fun to attend open house events and begin getting a feel for what you want in your next home! There are certain things you should always remember to do in order to maximize your time during an open house. First, always ask your Realtor for an open house checklist to help you stay focused! If you would like a copy of the one I send my clients, email me at Naomi@8thandHome.com and I'll send it right over!

The eight things I suggest you carefully look at during an open house are:

The neighborhood!

Take notice of whether the neighbors are out, scope out the yards near the home you're touring. Are there dogs? A lot of toys left out? Maybe you notice a lot of grills and outdoor furniture. Even if you don't have children, drive to the neighborhood school after you leave an open house to get a feel for distance and walkability.

Exterior!

Take note of the gutters (if it's raining, check the drain rate) and siding. Is the paint in good shape and how about the siding? Shut the front door when you enter (does it shut solidly and with no daylight showing through?)

Storage!

Open the drawers and closets to check for depth, width, issues with handles, etc. and look UP while you preview the home, scoping out any water stains on the ceilings.

Lighting!

What is the natural light like throughout the home?

Electric Panels!

Depending on the age of the home, ask the open house agent when the electric panels were updated.

Parking!

Check out the parking opportunities. Is there assigned parking, or ample street parking?

Vision!

Look past the staging and current decor of the home. Imagine your things in each room.

Water Pressure!

Flush a toilet and turn on a faucet to gauge the water pressure situation.

 

This is not a comprehensive list by any means, but it will give you a place to start, and a way to stay focused during open house events. If you have any questions or need to find a trusted real estate professional, no matter where you live, feel free to reach out using the contact form below!

Watch my LIVE video on this same topic if you're on Facebook and feel free to share the post with anyone who might find it useful!

 

Want to reach out? Have a question? Need a Realtor referral?

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How does a buyer's real estate agent get paid?

One of the most common questions we hear  -- when working with first time home buyers -- is “How does a real estate agent get paid?” It's not a discussion that is very typical to be heard out in the open, but we thought we'd bring a little light to the subject!

According to the National Association of Realtors, 88% of home buyers used a real estate agent when buying a home and approximately 91% of homeowners used a Realtor to sell their house. Those are numbers we like to see, because when a buyer or seller is represented by a really great Realtor, it means their rights are represented and the very stressful process of buying or selling becomes much easier to manage for YOU, the client!

In our market (Northern Virginia), the seller most typically pays all real estate commissions. That means if you are a buyer, you get to choose a Realtor to represent your interests at ... virtually no cost to you!

Real Estate Agent Get Paid

Realtors do not get paid until settlement / closing.

When a Realtor works with you  - - as a buyer - -  to find you a home, they know that they will not make a dime unless you purchase a house and use their services to do so. It’s not enough to simply get a contract signed. Real estate agents have to stick with the transaction and make sure that it makes it to the closing table, or they will not get paid. The seller will pay the Realtor fees out of the proceeds from the sale of their home (if there is enough equity). If the deal falls apart before making it to closing, the Realtors will typically never get paid for their work.

Buyer Representation Document.

It is Virginia law that buyers sign a representation document when working with a Realtor. This agreement protects all parties involved and is called an Exclusive Right to Represent Buyer document. You can work out the details regarding the length of the time for the agreement, and you want to make sure that you are comfortable with the terms (how the broker will release you from the agreement, should you choose to), etc.

Broker Compensation.

A standard percentage for a real estate transaction in Northern Virginia is between 5-6% for both sides of the deal. This is usually split equally between the buyer's Realtor and the seller's Realtor. The percentage is figured on the total sales price of the home (or the base price on a new construction home, not including any options or upgrades) and is disbursed by the settlement company (title company / attorney's office) after all parties have signed the appropriate paperwork.

Something that varies from brokers office to brokers office is the "split", the percentage that the Realtor receives, after any agreement that Realtor has with their broker. The question "how does a real estate agent get paid" is not necessarily an easy one to answer, as it depends on what that split is. A Realtor who has a higher split with their brokerage will earn more, however they may have fees to pay in exchange for that split.

The bottom line is, as a buyer, most often, you do not pay for that commission! Be sure to confirm this with your Realtor.

Administrative Fees.

You may be required to pay a minimal admin fee at the time of settlement, often less than $500. Be sure to request that your Realtor identify any fees that you are responsible to pay, at the time you sign your agreement.

How Hard Does Your Agent Work?

Just because you are not paying your Realtor's commission, doesn't mean they shouldn't work extra hard for you! They have only YOUR interests at heart, and they should work to the best of their ability in order to ensure that you are protected, and have all of the education you need to make an informed decision along the way. Your Realtor will work hand in hand with the agent for the seller to ensure that all paperwork is completed on time, deadlines are met and that both parties amicably reach the settlement table.

Any questions on how a real estate agent gets paid? Reach out and let us know! We're happy to help!

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Mortgage PreApproval Guide

Ready to buy a home? Preapproval is the first thing you'll need to get in order, but even before that, there are some things you need to know! Take a look at our mortgage preapproval guide and make sure you follow this set of steps to ensure that you are as prepared as you need to be before you start looking at homes! Approved Stamp  

1. Review your credit report.

2. If there are any issues on your credit report that do not look correct, dispute them right away!

3. Locate your last two years of tax returns and proof of income (W2s or pay stubs), or if you are self-employed, you will need to provide your year to date profit and loss statement. You'll need to repeat this step for anyone else who will be on the mortgage loan, as well.

4. Prepare to have your down payment funds and any closing costs you will be responsible for ready in the bank, and plan to keep it safe from being spent during the transaction!

5. If you are receiving any funds from relatives or as a gift, you will need to be prepared to provide an explanation letter to your mortgage company.

6. If you are a first time homebuyer and have been renting, ask your landlord for a referral letter and gather your recent rent payment receipts to show you have paid on time.

7. You will need to gather some other documents, such as divorce papers, personal identification documents, etc.

8. Income documentation will need to be provided, including all forms (Social Security, alimony, any government assistance, child support, etc.). In addition, any and all retirement accounts or IRAs will need to have proof provided, as well as any stock markets investments or money market accounts.

9. Be prepared to explain any past financial situations such as bankruptcy. You will be requested to provide a written explanation of the situation.

10. No matter what you do, do NOT:

  • Apply for new credit, even if it's a small clothing store credit card!
  • Make large purchases.
  • Close any credit cards.

When you are preapproved initially, your mortgage lender is approving you based on your credit scores at the time. If you have any changes to your credit score, it can impact your ability to purchase your dream home.

Once you have completed all of these steps, congratulations on receiving your preapproval! It is very smart to shop around and discover who will offer the best rates!

Need to talk with a lender you can trust? Message us, we have a short list of some really amazing lenders and loan officers!

Vino 9

Vino 9 Market Logo  

At the corner of Clarke's Gap Road and Charles Town Pike in Paeonian Springs, sits Vino 9 Market. With an amazing selection of craft and specialty beers and a super large selection of wine, this is a great one-stop shop when you're in the area! With local foods, snacks, vintage sodas and an Ariston Olive Oil and Balsamic Vinegar Station, where you can purchase and refill your bottles. It doesn't stop there. They also have fantastic award winning pulled pork bbq and a full menu!

Photo Credit: Vino 9

You can pick up to-go, or enjoy a beer, cold drink or a bite to eat on their outdoor enclosed patio. With the WO & D bike trail only a block away, Vino 9 makes a fantastic rest stop on your journey. On the weekends, local music and entertainment grace the makeshift stage and you can often see not only bicyclists on the W & OD Trail but bikers (motorcycles) and folks stopping in on their wine tastings or antique shopping tours!

We happen to love Paeonian Springs and not just because of Vino 9. Check out our newest listing at 16999 Highland Circle, an amazing historic home just around the corner from Vino 9 Market:

 

To learn more about this amazing home, see photos or to schedule a showing please visit: 16999 Highland Circle | 8th & Home

 

Earnest Money Deposit

Earnest Money Deposit 8th & Home

Just what IS Earnest Money Deposit?

There are many terms and acronyms that one will hear during a real estate transaction and "EMD" or Earnest Money Deposit is one of them!

Broken down quite simply, the Earnest Money Deposit is a good faith deposit that is given by the purchaser or a property to the seller. You will make your deposit at the same time you present your offer to the seller. As each state is different, it is very important that you speak with your Realtor© about the ins and outs of this process. Most typically, the funds (usually deposited with your real estate agent's broker or the title company) are deposited into an escrow account.

An escrow account is a bank account that exists for the purpose of holding funds until they are needed, most often at the time of settlement. Once settlement occurs, the deposit is applied to either closing costs, your down payment or returned to you at closing.

 

Why is Earnest Money Deposit necessary?

When you write an offer to the seller of the home you are interested in purchasing, providing an Earnest Money Deposit shows the seller that you mean business, that you are willing to "put your money where your mouth is" and also allows your offer to stand out above the others, should there be multiple offers received.

If your situation is one of multiple offers, you may want to consider upping the ante a bit and offering a larger EMD. As you begin a relationship with the seller of the property you are interested in, it is important to start off on the right foot.

Contingencies and the Return of the Earnest Money Deposit.

Contingencies protect the buyer through the home buying process. If there are issues with the home inspection, or financing becomes unattainable, etc, contingencies are what exist to allow the buyer to walk away from the contract.  In these cases, the Earnest Money Deposit is typically returned to the buyer. However, if the buyer cancels the contract for a reason not covered by a contingency, the deposit is generally forfeited to the seller.

How Much Will My Earnest Money Deposit Total?

Depending on the area you are purchasing in, the price of your home, and the specifics to your transaction, the Earnest Money Deposit total will vary.  Typically the Earnest Money Deposit is between 1-2% of your sales price. As discussed previously, if you are competing against other offers, you may want to consider a higher EMD.

What are Contract Contingencies?

We cannot stress enough how important it is that you have a trusted and experienced Realtor© when buying a home. Your agent will help you understand all applicable dates for each contingency, as each one can impact the potential return of your deposit. Contingencies are written and utilized to protect both parties, but most specifically, the buyer. Below are some of the typical contingencies written into an offer to purchase a home:

  • Contingent on selling your current home
  • Contingent on a home inspection
  • Contingent on appraisal
  • Contingent on obtaining financing

If you have more questions about the Earnest Money Deposit process, or the steps to purchasing a home, feel free to email us or call for more information!

 

 

What is an ASHI Home Inspector

ASHI home inspector Mike Mallott

What IS a home inspection anyway?

Home inspections first began to be preformed in the 1950s as a regular occurrence during real estate transactions. By the early 1970s, home inspections were thought of to be essential to any and all real estate transactions. When you purchase a home, it is in your best interest to know all you can about that home before you sign on the final line!

Put quite simply, a home inspection is a framework designed to detect some of the major flaws or deficiencies in the significant components and systems of a home.

There are many types of certifications that can be held by home inspectors, but we encourage our buyers to only use someone who is certified as an ASHI home inspector (American Society of Home Inspectors). Formed in 1976, the ASHI Standard of Practice holds their home inspectors to a higher level of care. ASHI is the oldest and most respected organization of home inspectors in North America and an ASHI certified home inspector takes pride in his or her ethical performance of home inspectors and works hard to build public awareness of home inspection.

ASHI Code of Ethics and Standards

ASHI’s Code of Ethics stresses the home inspector’s responsibility to report the results of the inspection in a fair, impartial, and professional manner, avoiding conflicts of interest. An ASHI certified home inspector has to complete at least 250 inspections (with fees paid by a homebuyer), in addition to passing written examinations that prove their knowledge of residential construction, defect recognition, inspection techniques, and report-writing, as well as committing to adhere to ASHI’s Standard of Practice for Home Inspections and Code of Ethics.

An ASHI certified home inspector promises to:

  • Act in good faith toward each client and other interested parties.
  • Perform services and express opinions based on genuine conviction and only within their areas of education, training, or experience.
  • Be objective in their reporting and not knowingly understate or overstate the significance of reported conditions.

Often in the real estate industry, a home inspection becomes a laundry list of items that the prospective homebuyer uses to turn a resale home into a "like new" home. It is the job of the professionals involved to help guide and assist all parties with the home inspection process. When working with an ASHI certified home inspector, you can rely on the thoroughness, attention to detail and adherence to the standards set out for the home inspection industry.

Curious about just what a home inspector is looking for when they perform a home inspection? Take a look at this checklist from Checkmark Home Inspection. For more information on Checkmark Home Inspection:

 

What to expect when looking at homes

8th and home relocation and real estate When you begin looking at homes with your Realtor, here are some key tips and tricks that they may not think to share with you!

#1 - Do NOT rush through homes. No matter HOW tightly scheduled your showings are, insist on spending enough time at each home for YOUR comfort level. We like to plan for at least 30 minutes in each home to best get a feel for the home before heading off to the next.

#2 - Look at the neighbor's yards! Do they exhibit and display as similar set of values as yours when it comes to the care of their property?

#3 - Wear comfortable shoes AND bring socks in case a homeowner requests that you remove your shoes while you are looking at homes. Your own socks beat those awkward disposable booties any day!

#4 - You are totally allowed to look in every closet, behind the washing machine, and pull back curtains! STELLAR TIP: If you are curious whether there are hardwoods under the carpet, take a peek under the air vent.

#5 - If the seller is home, engage in polite conversation but don't allow the chit-chat to go too far. You may be tempted to ask 101 questions, but the less dialogue you have with the sellers, the better.

#6 - If you see items of concern during your tour, note them but don't lean too heavily on those items being deal breakers! You can put an offer in on your favorite home and deal with potential repair issues down the road during the due diligence time period!

#7 - If you like the home you've just seen, make time to revisit the neighborhood at night or at a time opposite of your initial showing. Pay attention to the happenings of your potential new street and make sure your initial impression matches what you see the second time.

#8 - If you see a neighbor outside, totally take advantage of that free information funnel and introduce yourselves! Ask questions about what happens on the weekends, and what they love the most about the neighborhood.

 

BONUS TIP: If you are going to be taking your own photos while looking at homes, take an introductory photo of the house numbers before going inside to help determine which photos belong to which home.

What tips would you add to this list?

19220 Kepharts Mill Terrace, Leesburg

Welcome home! Large fenced-in yard, end unit, fully finished basement with gas fireplace and full bath, walkout with multiple windows. 19220 Kepharts Mill Terrace 8th and Home

Main level boasts gorgeous hardwoods,  eat in / separate dining room and great room off the kitchen. Fabulous kitchen with a screened in deck, with secondary deck space for a grill. Lansdowne amenities with reduced HOA fees coming in January of 2016.

Three bedrooms, two full baths upstairs with upper level laundry as well!

Lansdowne amenities include:

30,000 square foot Potomac Club complex with amenities that include 25 meter indoor pool, heated whirlpool and locker rooms, outdoor resort style pool with spa, exercise and aerobics rooms, business center with computers, meeting rooms, ballroom facility, game room with pool table, television, air hockey table, foosball and video games.

If that wasn’t enough, access to a tot-lot, outdoor amphitheatre and a sand vollleyball court is also available. Additional amenities include three outdoor tennis courts and playing fields.

Stop by at our open house today, November 8 from 1-3pm ... comment on our Facebook page so we'll know to expect you!

Heroes Caring Community

In our efforts to save our local HEROES as much money as possible (and thank them for their services), we are beginning OPEN ENROLLMENT to all business owners, services providers and companies willing to give a discount to any HERO enrolled in the Heroes Home Advantage program. caring community

If you own or work for any of the following types of companies, or know someone that does (please share this blog post!) and are willing to offer a small discount, please contact us (naomi@8thandHome.com) and be a part of our Heroes Caring Community.

• Accountants

• Alarm/Home Security Companies

• Appraisers

• Appliance Stores

• Architects

• Asbestos Mitigation

• Attorneys (General Practice, Real Estate, Family/Divorce, Wills, Trusts, Estates & Probate)

• Auto Body Shops & Repair

• Auto/Car Dealerships

• Auto Mechanics

• Baby-Sitters

• Banks (Personal & Business)

Heroes Home Advantage Teacher

• Builders (New Home & Improvements/Add-ons)

• Cabinet Supply & Installation

• Caterers & Party Planners

• Carpenters

• Carpet and Upholstery Cleaners

• Carpet Supply Stores

• Chimney Cleaning and inspections

• Chiropractors

• Cleaning Services

• Clean Out Companies

• Computer & Networking Servicing

• Concrete, Cement & Pavers

• Construction Contractors

• Countertop Supply & Installation

• Credit Unions

• Day Care

• Deck Construction/Repair

• Dentists

• Dermatologists

• Doctors

• Driveway Companies

• Drone Services

• Dry Cleaners

Heroes Home Advantage Firefighter

• Dry Wall Companies

• Electricians

• Engineers (Civil & Structural)

• Estate Sale Companies

• Event & Community Centers

• Excavating Services

• Fencing Companies

• Financial Planners

• Fireplace Supply & Repair

• Flooring Companies

• Florists

• Furniture Stores

• Garage Door & Repair

• Garden & Nurseries

• Geological & Soil Testing

• Glass Shower Doors and Custom Glass Companies

• Gyms & Fitness Centers

• Hair Stylists

• Handyman Services

• Hardware Stores

• Home Inspectors

• Home Stagers

• Home Warranties

• HVAC Companies (Heating & Cooling)

• Insurance (Auto, Health, Homeowners, etc.)

• Interior Designers

• Jewelry Stores

• Landscape Stores

• Landscapers

• Lawn Care

Heroes Home Advantage Law Enforcement

• Lighting Stores

• Locksmiths

• Massage Therapists

• Masonry

• Mold Inspection & Mitigation

• Mortgage Lenders

• Movers (local & national)

• Mud-Jacking Companies

• Music (DJ & party services)

• Nannies

• Notaries

• Office Machines (copiers & printers)

• Office Supply & Furniture Stores

• Optometrists

• Orthodontists

• Paint Stores

• Painter

• Pediatricians

Heroes Home Advantage Health Care

• Pedicure Shops

• Personal Trainers

• Pest Inspection and Control Companies

• Pet Fence Companies

• Pet Kennels

• Pet Sitters

• Photographers

• Plumbers

• Pond Companies

• Pool Contractors

• Pool Care & Supply

• Pressure Cleaning

• Printing Companies

• Property Management

• Radon Inspection & Mitigation

• Rain Gutter Installation & Repair

• Restaurants • Retail Stores

• Roofing Companies

• Senior Living Communities (Convalescent Homes & Assisted Living)

• Septic & Sewer Companies

• Siding & Stucco Contractors

• Sign & Banner Companies

• Snow Removal

• Spa & Tub Supply/Service

Heroes Home Advantage Military

• Sprinkler/Irrigation Supply/Repair

• Stock Brokers

• Storage Companies

• Structural Inspector and Company

• Surveyors

• Tax Exchange (1031 Tax Exchange Consultants/Accomodators)

• Tailors

• Tile & Grout Contractors

• Title & Escrow Companies

• Trash Disposal & Hauling Services

• Veterinarian

• Video Services

• Water Damage Remediation

• Wedding Planners

• Well Inspection & Testing Companies

• Window & Glass Supply

• Window Covering Supply & Services

• Window Cleaning

Once we hear from you with your interest, we will be in touch to obtain your logo, website and contact information so that we can feature you on our Heroes Caring Community site! THANK YOU in advance for partnering with us to save our heroes even more of their hard-earned money!

If YOU are a Veteran or active duty military, in Law Enforcement, Firefighter or First Responder, a Health Care Provider or Teacher, please contact us to find out how to register for these amazing savings.

So you've been pre-approved for a mortgage

Congratulations! You've been pre-approved for a mortgage!! Now what? Pre Approval 8th and Home

  • Keep the process moving by responding to your loan officers’ requests for documents ASAP!
  • Make decisions as soon as possible.
  • Keep your Realtor informed during the process (!!!)
  • Relay questions or concerns AS they develop.
  • Continue to make all of your rent or mortgage payments on time.
  • Stay current on all other accounts, including utilities, credit cards, etc.
  • Continue to work your normal work schedule with no unplanned time off. If you have planned vacation time, be sure to notify your lending / Realtor team.
  • Do not open any new accounts or charge large amounts.
  • Be prepared to explain any large deposits in your bank accounts.

preapproval 8th and home

After you have been pre-approved for your mortgage:

  1. DO NOT make any major purchases (car, boat, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
  2. DO NOT apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved or “xxx days same as cash”).
  3. DO NOT pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer to do so).
  4. DO NOT make any changes to your credit profile.
  5. DO NOT change bank accounts.
  6. DO NOT make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around from one account to another.

pre-approval 8th and home

 

Are you in the market for a new home? Do you need to speak with a trusted loan officer? Check out our trusted loan officers here: 8th & Home Lenders

VHDA 3% Down Payment Assistance Grant

Do you know the definition of first-time homebuyer? Did you know you can qualify to be a first time homebuyer even if you've purchased before? Simply moving to a new state can qualify you as a first time homebuyer! 19195 Sweig Terrace Leesburg

VHDA’s First Time Home Buying programs are truly a breath of fresh air!

Did you know that:

  •  a First Time Homebuyer by definition is someone who hasn’t had a mortgage in 36 months!
  • in “Targeted VHDA Areas” you don’t have to be a first time homebuyer at all!
  • the VHDA offers 100% loan options for buyers!
  • the VHDA offers a 3% grant to help with the down payment of a loan!
  • the VHDA program works with all eligible buyers to make sure they understand how to balance their finances.

19195 Sweig Terrace Leesburg

 

Qualified buyers may receive up to 3 percent of the purchase price, to help with the down payment on their first home.

Buyers must have household incomes at or below program limits. Down Payment Assistance Grant may be used with only the following VHDA purchase programs: Conventional, FHA and Fannie Mae. Additionally, grant funds may not be used in combination with other down payment assistance resources (including FHA Plus). Finally, the down payment assistance grant has no repayment (with no note or deed of trust).

19195 Sweig Terrace Leesburg

VHDA's first mortgage must be locked on or after March 12, 2015 and the funds (available on a first-come, first-served basis) must be allocated by September 30, 2015.

As a Certified Licensed VHDA Instructor and Originator, Joe Sable's knowledge can unlock the door to your new home! Contact him directly for more information about this program and more!

Joe Sable SWBC Mortgage

 

Joseph Sable         

Senior Loan Officer, NMLS# 1090019

8521 Leesburg Pike, Suite 275, Vienna, VA  22182

CELL:  703.554.7216 | EMAIL JSABLE@SWBC.COM

Apply Online: https://www.swbcmortgage.com/joesable

 

And ... if you're in the market for a new home to purchase with your VHDA program loan, take a look at this beauty:

 

To learn more about this listing, visit I Saw A Sign

8 Steps to Buying a Home

Have you ever wondered exactly WHAT steps are involved in buying a home? HGTV and other television shows make it seem like a super simple process, don't they? Clients visit 3-4 homes, debate the pros and cons and before you know it, they have an accepted offer and they are packing up their boxes!

8 Steps to Home Buying Naomi Hattaway

1. Deciding to buy.

Home ownership is the best “accidental investment” you could ever make. When done correctly however, home ownership becomes an “intentional investment” that lays the foundation for a life of financial security and personal choice. There are solid financial reasons to support your decision to buy a home, and, among these, equity buildup, value appreciation, and tax benefits stand out.

Some facts?

  1. If you are paying rent, you very likely can afford to buy
  2. There is never a wrong time to buy the right home. All you need to do in the short run is find a good buy and make sure you have the financial ability to hold it for the long run
  3. The lack of a substantial down payment doesn't prevent you from making your first home purchase
  4. A less-than-perfect credit score won't necessarily stop you from buying a home
  5. The best way to get closer to buying your ultimate dream home is to buy your first home now
  6. Buying a home doesn't have to be complicated - there are many professionals who will help you along the way

Call me at 571.482.7356 for a list of my trusted mortgage lenders who can help you determine the health level of your current financial situation.

2. Hiring your agent.

The typical real estate transaction involves at least two dozen separate individuals-insurance assessors, mortgage brokers and underwriters, inspectors, appraisers, escrow officers, buyer's agents, seller's agents, bankers, title researchers, and a number of other individuals whose actions and decisions have to be fine tuned and orchestrated in order to perform in harmony and get a home sale closed.

It is the responsibility of your real estate agent to expertly coordinate all the professionals involved in your home purchase and to act as the advocate for you and your interests throughout.

So just what does YOUR agent do?

  1. Educates you about your market.
  2. Analyzes your wants and needs.
  3. Guides you to homes that fit your criteria.
  4. Coordinates the work of all needed professionals.
  5. Negotiates on your behalf.
  6. Checks and double-checks (and triple-checks!) paperwork and deadlines.
  7. Solves any problems that may arise.

Click for my list of questions you should ask every agent before you select the right fit for you.

3. Securing financing.

While you may find the thought of home ownership thrilling, the thought of taking on a mortgage may be downright chilling. Many first-time buyers start out confused about the process or nervous about making such a large financial commitment. The first step is to determine how much house you can afford.

[affordability]

From start to finish, you will follow a six-step, easy-to-understand process to securing the financing for your first home.Six steps to Financing a Home

  1. Choose a loan officer.
  2. Make a loan application and get preapproved.
  3. Determine what you want to pay and select a loan option.
  4. Submit to the lender an accepted purchase offer contract.
  5. Get an appraisal and title commitment.
  6. Obtain funding at closing.

It is important to choose between several loan officer or lending institutions and it is wise to shop around. I am happy to provide you with my top list of trusted lenders and loan officers. If you feel you may have credit issues, I can also refer you to several programs who can -- some for free and others for a reasonable rate -- offer credit repair services and advice.

[mortgage mortgage_term="30"]

4. Finding home.

The process of finding your new home does NOT have to begin on those large monster sites with ads for random real estate agents popping up left and right. It also does not begin by driving all over town looking for for sale signs. While it may be exciting to begin attending open houses and perusing the internet for new listings on the market, the most important thing you can do -- first -- is to carefully look at your wants and needs.

Here are some basic questions to ask:

  1. What do I want my home to be close to?
  2. How much space do I need and why?
  3. Which is more critical: location or size?
  4. Would I be interested in a fixer-upper?
  5. How important is home value appreciation?
  6. Is neighborhood stability and priority?
  7. Would I be interested in a condo?
  8. Would I be interested in new home construction?
  9. What features and amenities do I want? Which do I really need?

Clients who work with me receive access to a detailed, customized and unique Decision Matrix, a series of 8 topics with 8 questions each that really dive in deep to an individual or family's wants vs. needs. We then look at it together to begin identifying and structuring a home search plan that truly makes sense.

We will utilize our time together in the best way possible and focus on homes, neighborhoods and communities that will truly allow you to flourish and thrive in your new setting. Your home purchase is most likely the most money you will spend in any one transaction. Isn't it important that you sit down with a trusted advisor to help you with this process?

 

5. Making an offer.

When searching for your dream home, you were just that-a dreamer. Now that you're writing an offer, you need to be a businessperson. You need to approach this process with a cool head and a realistic perspective of your market. Keeping a cool head can be even easier with a professional real estate agent. When you present your offer, you will be offering a price, stating terms and discussing contingencies.

Some of the items that will be included in an offer:

  1. Schedule of events that has to happen before closing.
  2. Conveyances are the items that stay with the house when the sellers leave.
  3. Commission is the real estate commission or fee, for both the agent who works with the seller and the agents who works with the buyer.
  4. Closing cost which are standard for buyers to pay. If you want to roll the costs into the loan, you need to write that into the contract.
  5. Home warranty which covers repairs or replacement of appliances and major systems. You may ask the seller to pay for this.
  6. Earnest money protects the sellers from the possibility of your unexpectedly pulling of the deal and makes a statement about the seriousness of your offer.

6. Performing due diligence.

Unlike the purchase of a car or an appliance, once you buy a home, you can't return it if something breaks or doesn't quite work like it's supposed to. That's why home owner's insurance and property inspections are so important. A home owner's insurance policy protects you against loss or damage to the property itself and in case someone sustains an injury while on your property. The property inspection should expose the secret issues a home might hide so you know exactly what you're getting into before you sign your closing papers.

7. Closing Day.

The final stage of the home buying process is the lender's confirmation of the home's value and legal statue, and your continued credit-worthiness. This entails a survey, appraisal, title search, and a final check of your credit and finance. Your agent will keep you posted on how each if progressing, but your work is pretty much done.

You just have a few preclosing responsibilities:

  1. Stay in control of your finances (do not buy anything major or open a new line of credit!).
  2. Return all phone calls and paperwork promptly.
  3. Communicate with your agent promptly and consistently.
  4. Several days before closing, confirm with your agent that all your documentation is in place and in order.
  5. Obtain certified funds for closing.
  6. Conduct a final walk-through.

On closing day, with the guidance of a team of trusted professionals, you'll sign documents that:

  1. Finalize your mortgage.
  2. Pay the seller.
  3. Pay your closing costs.
  4. Transfer the title from the seller to you.
  5. Make arrangements to legally record the transaction as a public record.

With the right team in place, and as long as your expectations match that of the process, closing can be an exciting finale to the process of finding the perfect home for you!

8. After the closing table.

Now that you've spent a considerable amount of time with your real estate agent, it's time to keep that relationship going! Instead of throwing all of that trust and rapport out the window, instead use your new relationship to your advantage!

My clients receive frequent communication from me, whether it's a home maintenance schedule for their new home, a birthday card or anniversary greetings. I also assist my clients with the documentation they will need for their first tax return as a new home owner (including advice on which receipts to save to maximize benefits). I also maintain a solid list of vendor referrals that I provide to those who work with me.

In addition, a referral is the best thank you a client can give to their agent!

Would you like to learn more about the home buying process? No matter which stage of life you're in, I would love to talk with you about your real estate needs.