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?Read More
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:
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.
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?)
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.
What is the natural light like throughout the home?
Depending on the age of the home, ask the open house agent when the electric panels were updated.
Check out the parking opportunities. Is there assigned parking, or ample street parking?
Look past the staging and current decor of the home. Imagine your things in each room.
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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We get it! We really do! There are literally thousands of licensed real estate agents in Loudoun County, Virginia, so how on earth can YOU decide who truly are the best Realtors in Loudoun for you and your individual situation??
Listed alphabetically by team name / brokerage, then by first names, here is our take on the BEST Realtors in Loudoun County, Virginia! Click their photo to visit each Realtor's website! *
------> Please note, there are obviously more Realtors in Loudoun County that are amazing, this short list simply curates those we have either worked with during this past year, individuals whose online presence we admire, or Realtors whose values and ethics match those of our team!
Our favorite clients? Every single one of them! We love the challenge of multi-generational families ... enjoy educating first time homebuyers, and appreciate those ready to make the move from "city living" to being country mice!
Western Loudoun is our sweet spot and boy do we know it inside and out, as well as all that comes with that -- often times, no HOA, space to spread out and room to run! What better location to encompass farm stores, wineries, small businesses owned by locals, country schools and true community!
We also LOVE our heroes! We give back and say thank you with our commission by crediting teachers, military, fire, police, first responders and health care professionals with 25% of our commission -- which comes in handy on closing day!
I was born and raised in Sterling, VA. I’m so blessed with Loudoun County roots! The County thrives because of its diversity, award winning schools, incredible park systems, steady economic growth, and more! I’m starting my 18th year in Real Estate. It is an exciting career path filled with passion and purpose! I have the great pleasure of serving the needs of first time homebuyers, move up homebuyers, down sizers, and relocation clients. I enjoy navigating the process with all!
Kelly Stock Bacon, ERA Teachers | Facebook
I have resided in Loudoun County for over 30 years. Our family loves our small town community, neighborhoods, schools and local businesses. I enjoy working with all clients, but have a special place for the first time homebuyer. Providing them with the education needed, allows them to buy with confidence. This brings such a sense of gratitude and enthusiasm!
I love real estate because it allows me to provide expertise while easing my clients' stress during what is often the most important investment of a lifetime. I love the stability and wealth building home ownership creates!
Kieno Simeon, Keller Williams
With 22 years in the business, what I love about working in real estate is the realization that I have the honor to have a positive impact on the lives of others. First time homebuyers are my absolute favorite as I love to have the opportunity to teach and guide them in buying their future wealth with real estate. I consider myself a relational Realtor, nurturing the relationship through the years to meet my clients' ongoing needs.
I've lived in Loudoun County for almost 17 years and love the diversity of people, landscapes, and towns. Working in Real Estate I've met people from all walks of life and people who have lived or are from all over the world. Can't imagine a better job.
Martha Mason, Long & Foster | Facebook
Part of what makes the Platinum Group Real Estate team so unique is that our team is comprised of all moms! We understand first hand what it means to work hard to fulfill the needs of your family, and we do that not only for our families, but for yours too! Longtime lovers of Loudoun County, not only is one of the team owners is a lifelong resident, but all of our team averages more than 10 years as a Loudoun resident. We live here too, and we love it!
Platinum Group, Pearson Smith | Facebook
I absolutely love working with first time home buyers. There is something so special about seeing their dreams come true! And Loudoun County, it's our very own wine country! What's not to love about living and selling here?
As a realtor in Northern Virginia, I love the fact that I can work with many diverse individuals. When interacting with clients I get to travel from the city to the suburbs to rural farms and everywhere in between. All of this allows me to provide a vast amount of options for all my clients.
Being a Realtor in Loudoun County exposes you to wide diversity of cultural experiences. My military background, where travel was a key aspect of that career, allows me to interact with confidence and understanding of many of the sensitivities we need to respect when working with clients from different parts of the world.
I have had the great pleasure of working all over Northern VA but I am proud to be a homeowner in Loudoun County. I was personally drawn to the neighborhoods with a variety of home styles, the amazing schools for my kids, and the ability to be close to numerous amenities or head west and enjoy the open spaces and great wineries!
Real estate is exciting because it is constantly changing, no two days are alike! Most people do not trust the sale or purchase of their largest asset to just anyone. To be a trusted advisor, constant training, experience, great communication skills, problem solving skills, creativity and hard work are necessary. I have been a Northern VA resident for 30+ years, the last 19+ years in Loudoun and am in my 15th year of real estate. Whether first-time buyers, sellers, moving up, changing family status, relocating, downsizing or thriving in place, I enjoy them all!
Tanya Gonda, Weichert | Facebook
You might wonder why we are showcasing other Realtors in the same space where we ourselves work? We believe there is enough business for everyone. We do not believe in the spirit of scarcity or competition, and also firmly believe that each client deserves the very best fit for their real estate journey. We always suggest that you interview several Realtors before settling on the one you'll ultimately go with. You can learn more about our suggested steps by reading How to Find a Great Real Estate Agent or by following these 8 Steps for Choosing a Great Realtor.
If you'd like to speak with us about your real estate needs, feel free to get in touch using the contact form below or give us a call at 571-482-7356!
* Realtors are licensed by State, not segmented by county, however, the Realtors on this round up practice primarily in Loudoun County.
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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!
The size and style of a home is one of the first things most Realtors talk to their clients about. "Do you want a single family home or a townhome?" If you currently live in a townhome and are considering the move up process to a single family home, we wanted to provide some insight into the different aspects of moving from a townhome to a single family home.
Yard Size and Lawn Care
The size of your yard can be both a benefit and a detraction. If you are used to, and enjoy not having to spend much time caring for your lawn, a single family home might not be the right fit for your lifestyle. However, the opportunity for a larger outdoor living space can add enjoyment to your daily living (and truth be told, you can always hire out the lawncare!).
The size of your lot can impact your future resale value as well. Be sure to ask your Realtor about the average sizes of lots in the neigborhoods you are interested in, as well as peruse the various footprints to discover the differences in where homes are placed on the lots to get maximum use out of your yard.
Whether it be by virtue of shared parking stalls or common green areas or even the reality that townhomes share walls, moving from a townhome to a single family home means more privacy! Parking with a single family home will often offer at least one dedicated parking space off-street, and in many cases, a dedicated garage with space for storage as well as driveway spaces in addition.
Homeowners Association Fees
In some cases, the HOA fees (Homeowner Association Fees) may be lower for single family homes because there are not additional fees to cover the repair or replacement of shared roofs or common areas. Many neighborhoods in Northern Virginia have HOA fees, which provide for services such as garbage pickup, snow removal, pool and community membership, etc. If you are looking to move from a townhome to a single family home, make sure you check the difference in HOA fees between the two options.
Do you already have a pet or plan to have one in the future? Some townhomes restrict the size or type of pets you can have, especially when talking about dogs. Single family homeowners do not have the same restrictions and also often have a greater sized lot for their pet to utilize.
There are many things to think about when considering a move from a townhome to a single family home! Utilize the advice of your Realtor and friends and family when looking at your lifestyle and future needs before making your ultimate decision.
One of our featured listings is a perfect example of what a single family home can offer its residents. This 5 bedroom, 3.5 bathroom home at 1511 Barksdale Drive in Leesburg offers a large fenced back yard, a generous sized deck, a fully finished basement and more. Interested in making Potomac Crossing your new neighborhood?
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?
Congratulations! You've been pre-approved for a mortgage!! Now what?
- 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.
After you have been pre-approved for your mortgage:
- DO NOT make any major purchases (car, boat, jewelry, furniture, appliances, etc.).
- DO NOT apply for any new credit (even if it says you are preapproved or “xxx days same as cash”).
- DO NOT pay off charges or collections (unless directed by your loan officer to do so).
- DO NOT make any changes to your credit profile.
- DO NOT change bank accounts.
- DO NOT make unusual deposits into your bank accounts or move money around from one account to another.
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
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!
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.
- If you are paying rent, you very likely can afford to buy
- 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
- The lack of a substantial down payment doesn't prevent you from making your first home purchase
- A less-than-perfect credit score won't necessarily stop you from buying a home
- The best way to get closer to buying your ultimate dream home is to buy your first home now
- 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?
- Educates you about your market.
- Analyzes your wants and needs.
- Guides you to homes that fit your criteria.
- Coordinates the work of all needed professionals.
- Negotiates on your behalf.
- Checks and double-checks (and triple-checks!) paperwork and deadlines.
- 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.
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
- Choose a loan officer.
- Make a loan application and get preapproved.
- Determine what you want to pay and select a loan option.
- Submit to the lender an accepted purchase offer contract.
- Get an appraisal and title commitment.
- 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.
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:
- What do I want my home to be close to?
- How much space do I need and why?
- Which is more critical: location or size?
- Would I be interested in a fixer-upper?
- How important is home value appreciation?
- Is neighborhood stability and priority?
- Would I be interested in a condo?
- Would I be interested in new home construction?
- 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:
- Schedule of events that has to happen before closing.
- Conveyances are the items that stay with the house when the sellers leave.
- 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.
- 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.
- Home warranty which covers repairs or replacement of appliances and major systems. You may ask the seller to pay for this.
- 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:
- Stay in control of your finances (do not buy anything major or open a new line of credit!).
- Return all phone calls and paperwork promptly.
- Communicate with your agent promptly and consistently.
- Several days before closing, confirm with your agent that all your documentation is in place and in order.
- Obtain certified funds for closing.
- Conduct a final walk-through.
On closing day, with the guidance of a team of trusted professionals, you'll sign documents that:
- Finalize your mortgage.
- Pay the seller.
- Pay your closing costs.
- Transfer the title from the seller to you.
- 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.