What Home Buyers Need to Know – Northern Virginia
Buying a home is one of the biggest life transitions you can make. In a single transaction you are not simply spending a large amount of money, but you are moving yourself, your family, and starting your future. You are not just purchasing a home, but buying a lifestyle. We have the tools, knowledge, and resources at our fingertips to set you up for success in your purchase.
The Online Home Search
We are often asked: “What is the best website to search for home online?”
I recommend you search for homes on Listingbook.com. ListingBook provides real time data, so unlike the other sites that come up when you search for “Northern Virginia Homes for Sale” what you see with ListingBook is what’s actually on the market. With your FREE ListingBook account you truly will be able to search just like real estate agents do. However, you do need an agent to provide access to this site. Contact us today to get set up.
Up Front Expenses in purchasing a home
Most of your expenses come at settlement and are paid for that day. There are a few expenses you need to be prepared to pay for along your journey:
- Earnest Money Deposit: This is often a check that you submit with your contract as “good faith money” which shows the seller that you are serious. It will be applied to your costs and expenses at settlement. These funds will be deposited into a neutral escrow account once your have a ratified contract (complete agreement between buyer and seller). How much is the Earnest Money Deposit? There is no set amount, but in NoVA it’s typical for it to be 1-2% of the purchase price.
- Home Inspection(s): A home inspection will be paid for when it happens. This is often within a week or so of ratification. Additionally any specialty inspections will be paid for at the time of the inspection.
- Appraisal: Your lender will typically ask you to pay for the appraisal before they order it. This will also take place within about one week of ratification.
You need a qualified REALTOR to represent you in your purchase. Here is what we will do as your agent:
- With our local knowledge we will guide you in your needs and desires in relation to price, location, size, amenities, schools, local economy and more.
- Help you understand pricing and your offer so that you do not overpay for your home.
- In writing and negotiating your contract we will keep you informed of important terms and timelines that will set you up for success within the terms of the agreement.
- After your home inspection we will help negotiate repairs between you and the seller. We can educate you on items found in the inspection by putting you in touch with someone from our team of licensed contractors. This can help you understand the cost and risk of potential repairs.
- We will help you navigate through understanding what is important in choosing a lender. See “Finding a Lender” below.
- We will lead you in communications with the settlement company so that you can be assured you are on the right track.
Finding a Lender
First of all, you need a lender letter before you can make an offer. A seller needs to know that you have been working with a lender and have the income, assets and credit to purchase their home. A loan officer will review your financial information and ask for important documentation. Start this process before looking at your first home.
Also — You need to know that you are getting the best rate, the lowest fees, and a lender that is ready to work for YOU! Rates are competitive these days and no doubt hugely important. That’s what we all think of in regards to a loan. However, you also need to ask about fees. Make sure you are not overpaying on miscellaneous fees to a lender. My final criteria for a lender loan officer is this: Do you have their mobile phone number? Are they willing to take and/or return a calls, texts or emails on a weekend? Obviously you can’t expect anyone to jump instantly at all of your requests, but buying a home is not a 9 to 5, Monday through Friday ordeal. Keep that in mind when interviewing lenders. We know several fantastic loan officers. Just ask!
Settlement Costs to Expect
We can help you understand how much you need for closing costs based on your purchase amount. These funds will be needed in addition to any down payment and will be on your final settlement statement.
- Lender fees typically include charges for loan processing and underwriting
- Third-party fees include charges for the title search, title insurance, government recording and transfer charges, and other inspections such as termites/wood-destroying insects
- HOA/Condo Associations often charge a transfer fee
- Government fees include deed recording fees and state and local transfer taxes
- Escrow and interest fees include homeowner’s insurance, loan interest, real estate -taxes, and occasionally private mortgage insurance.
Can I ask the seller to pay my closing costs?
We have many buyers that get a portion (or more) of their closing costs covered by the seller. Ultimately you have to keep in mind what the seller’s NET proceeds will be. Meaning: If you offer a seller $450,000 to purchase their home, but ask them to pay $5,000 of your closing costs, then you are technically offering them a NET price of $445,000. Also, if you are in a competing situation then it may be in your best interest to not ask the seller to pay your closing costs. Every offer is different, and we will help you navigate the landscape of each offer situation that gives you the best chance to get the home you desire.