Tag Archives: home buying tips

Drive Before You Buy

Whether you are shopping for a home in a familiar location or a new neighborhood, remember that you are buying more than a home. You are also buying the neighborhood, so it helps to become familiar with your favorites, whether you drive them or walk them.

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Why is that important? It’s the neighborhood that helps establish home values, which depend largely on location and local amenities (close to high-paying jobs, high-scoring schools, high-starring restaurants, transportation, etc.)

Neighborhoods can also change over time, so look for signs of transition. Do you see reinvestment or decline? Homeowners reinvest by repainting, making repairs and refreshing their homes with updates. What kinds of stores and services do you see? Dollar stores or boutiques, payday loan shops or investment firms, fast food or upscale restaurants. Are you the right target demographic?

Visit the area at different times of the day and on weekends. What’s traffic like? How long is your commute?  If you are looking in a neighborhood a little further out than where you currently live, you definitely want to drive your commute at rush hour traffic.

As you drive, check a few home-buying apps. On your Realtor.com app, you can see crime stats and amenities and save your favorites to show your Berkshire Hathaway Home Services network professional.

You’ll be happier if you pick the neighborhood first, then choose the home.

Ready to get started?  Call 703-836-1464 today!

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10 Tips for Homebuyers and Sellers

Spring is here, and so is spring home-buying and -selling. Buyers and sellers preparing to take action this season should put those plans into play now—according to Zillow Group’s Report on Consumer Housing Trends, the No. 1 regret for both buyers and sellers is “not starting their home search or prepping their home to sell soon enough.”

“This spring, both buyers and sellers should be prepared for fast-moving sales, intense negotiations, and even bidding wars,” says Jeremy Wacksman, CMO at Zillow Group. “Home shoppers and sellers are motivated to become more strategic and knowledgeable about what’s happening in their neighborhood. Understanding whether you are in a buyer’s or a seller’s environment will help you manage your expectations and will give you insight into what you’re going to need to bring to the table in order to close the deal.”

For buyers, that means:

Keep your options open. More than half (52 percent) of homebuyers surveyed in the report said they also considered renting, and more than one-third (37 percent) of first-time buyers seriously considered continuing to rent. Savvy shoppers should have a Plan B in place, hoping to buy if it works out, but willing to sign a lease for a home if they don’t make a deal by the time they need to move.

Be realistic with your budget. Once you set it, stick to it. First-time home buyers are more likely to exceed their budget than repeat buyers (39 percent versus 26 percent), according to the report. Before you meet with a lender to determine how much mortgage you’ll be approved for, take a good look at your individual finances and spending preferences to determine the monthly payment range that you feel you can comfortably afford.

Get your financing squared away early. Plan to meet a few lenders four to six months ahead of when you’re planning to buy to ensure you can make a competitive offer quickly when you find your dream home. The majority (82 percent) of buyers get pre-approved, with 77 percent getting pre-approval from a lender before finding a home on which they are interested in placing an offer.

Find an agent with a winning track record. Take the time to find an agent who has expertise in fast negotiation, leveraging escalation clauses, and winning bidding wars. Only 46 percent of buyers got the first home on which they made an offer, according to the report, demonstrating that competition is now part of the process. Choose an agent based on sales and listing activity, area of expertise and reputation.

Communication is key. Make sure your preferred method—and frequency—of communication matches that of your agent. One-third (33 percent) of all buyers surveyed in the report preferred phone calls with their agent over emailing (21 percent) or texting (15 percent). Buyers can use the agent reviews on Zillow to learn more about prospective agents and their clients’ experiences.

And for sellers:

Start early and be strategic. Sellers consider putting their home on the market for five months before they list it—but the top seller regret is that they wished they spent more time prepping for the sale. Many cities have a magic window in the spring when homes have a higher likelihood of selling quickly for more money.

Work with an agent from the start. The vast majority (90 percent) of sellers surveyed in the report who sold quickly and for more than list price worked with an agent, and two out of three (58 percent) began working with an agent at the very beginning of their selling journey.

Pay attention to your online curb appeal. The majority of buyers begin their search online. Sellers who sold their home for more than list price made imagery and home information available online: 48 percent had professional photos taken of the home; 30 percent shot video footage; and 21 percent shot drone footage. Zillow’s video walk-throughs give sellers an easy way to show home features that are hard to capture in photos.

Home improvements can be a worthwhile investment. Sellers who fetched above list price tackled home improvements before listing their home, being 50 percent more likely to take on a large project like modifying an existing home plan and 20 percent more likely to renovate a kitchen than the average seller.

Don’t be afraid to try again. In many markets, nearly half of listing views occur in the first week the home is on the market. Twenty-six percent of those who sold above list price took their home off the market once to adjust the sales price, opting to start anew, rather than letting the home languish on the market with minimal activity.

Reprinted with permission from RISMedia. ©2017. All rights reserved.

Top 5 Reasons the Mortgage Process Gets Bogged Down

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Questions? Call Maxine for answers! 703-836-1464

Things are moving along at a nice pace and then BAM! out of no where come mortgage issues… how could this happen?!  Believe it or not, there are a few very common things that frequently are the sources of those bumpy roads. Read on for some tips from Jason Banks, with Presidential Mortgage.

1)         Internet banking – With the invent of internet banking, we find clients are very active with money transfer.  Each transfer has to be paper trailed and followed.  We once had a client with 23 different accounts that they would push money to every month.
2)         One day sale! – I get called a few times a month by the client that is at LOWES, HOME DEPOT, SEARS, etc. stating they have a fantastic sale on Washer Dryer.  Keep in mind, the mortgage process is like a recipe…change one ingredient and you may not end up with a house.
3)         Availability of Funds – any time a borrower is withdrawing funds from a 401k, IRA, TSP, or some other “non-cash” account, we recommend that the client withdraw the funds at least 2 weeks prior to settlement.  We have had clients try to wait to the last minute only to find out it is a 10 day process…
4)         Lack of Urgency – The mortgage process is many times a very tight time line.  I find that for some clients, they are not aware that every day counts.  I have sent loan papers out on a Monday to be told they can get them back to me within a week OR SO….  The quicker we get the loan package the quicker we can get everything ready to submit.  On every file we hope to have the loan ready to submit the minute we get the appraisal in hand.
5)         Appraisals – The timing of appraisals continues to be an issue.  We are now requesting the reports be turned into us with 15 days.  This is up from 10.  So please write your contracts accordingly as we cannot push appraisers for expedited service based on HVCC guidelines.

Everyone wants a smooth deal… taking these observations to heart will be a huge help in keeping the mortgage process moving smoothly along.

Renegotiating After the Home Inspections

Negotiations don’t necessarily end when you and the seller sign the contract to purchase. You have the right to have the home you’re buying inspected for soundness, which you can include as a contingency to your offer. That way, if the inspection reveals a serious issue, you and the seller can address it through renegotiations.

During the inspection process, the inspector is required to tell you about the condition of the appliances, heating and cooling, electrical and plumbing systems, foundation, roofing, exterior materials and so on.

Depending on where you live, you may also get separate inspections for pests and environmental issues such as radon. You’ll also learn if your future home is up to current building codes and what needs to be done to bring it up to code.

Most sellers expect to make reasonable repairs and replacements if the inspection reveals an issue that wasn’t obvious when you first agreed to terms. As long as communication remains open and civil, the seller should have as much desire to make the sales contract work as you do.