1st Congrats on this big decision – buying a home is a very big deal! It’s one of the largest financial decisions you are going to make. This decision will also determine your lifestyle, your monthly budget and your long-term neighbors. My point is – don’t take it lightly.
Due to the size of this responsibility I have a process to help my clients buy a perfect home. I don’t just put you in my car and start showing you houses – most of the time that’s a waste of your time and mine. If you just want to pick houses off the internet and see them – use Redfin. If you want to get clear about what you need, want and consider all your options, then here is how I can help.
1. The very 1st step is for us to chat over the phone or email. I want to find out the basics – why are you looking to buy, when and what areas you are considering. I will also ask you about your price range and if you had a chance to talk to a lender (if not – not to worry). Once we chat we will set up a time to get together and discuss your home buying much deeper.
2. Consultation in person. Usually we get together at my awesome office in Courthouse, Arlington. Here is what we discuss:
- Your current situation
- What is your search criteria for the new home
- How I can help you achieve your goals
- Buying process: loan, making an offer, contract period, closing costs
- Current market conditions
- Paperwork for me to represent you (if that’s what we want and decide)
- Look through available listings in MLS with your search criteria and select the ones you’d like to see. I use an elimination process vs. selection – so we will consider all homes within your search criteria and then eliminate the ones that won’t work. This way we will make sure we are not missing out on anything.
3. Loan pre-approval. Before we start looking at homes – you will need to get a loan pre-approval from a lender. I recommend a lender Marc Aymard – he is really great about explaining the loan process and presenting you with the options available to you. With all the media talking about strict lending guidelines – there are lots of options for buyers with low down payments. Once you have a pre-approval letter – we can start looking at homes.
4. Looking at homes. This is the fun part – at least in the beginning. Some homes are vacant, but many are occupied and need an advance notice for showings. During our 1st tours we will see ALL listings that might work for you. Our goal will be to keep a roll of top 3. There is no 100% perfect home – if it’s 85% perfect – it’s probably the right home for you. If we find “the home” that you are interested in – we will make an offer. If not – we will continue looking. I will set you up on automatic listing updates from our MLS that has the most accurate and up-to-date listing information. We will be keeping track of the market together and the minute the right home comes along – we will jump on it quickly. Keep in mind – the best listings – I call them “cream puffs” – usually sell in a few days.
5. Making an offer. Once we find the perfect house we will make an offer. We will look up similar homes that sold in the area to make sure we don’t offer too much. There are standard forms that we use for all resale transactions in Norther Virginia to make an offer. There are similar forms for DC and MD, but they are different jurisdictions with slightly different form requirements. Most important items that seller will be looking for:
- Offer price
- Closing cost credit from the seller towards your closing costs
- Earnest Money Deposit (good faith deposit – I usually explain this in person)
- Settlement date
- Type of financing and lender’s reputability
- Items that we expect the seller to leave in the house (we will mark all appliances that stay, etc)
- Inspections: home inspection, termite, radon, possibly lead based paint
- Other contingencies – financing, appraisal
- Potential pre-settlement or post-settlement occupancy
If the house has been on the market for a while – there usually is a lot more negotiating with the seller. In this case we go back and forth a few times and play an increment game. If the house just hit the market and we are competing with an 2nd offer – we will have no negotiating power and will try put put our best foot forward right away – no playing games.
6. Contract period. Let’s say the negotiations went well and we have a ratified contract. (that’s what the final agreement is called) This process is usually 30-60 days. During this process we will be doing our due diligence and will be removing the contingencies one by one. Your chosen lender will get the loan process started and order an official property appraisal. Title company will be making sure you will be receiving a clear title. We will be scheduling inspections, moving money for the down-payment, fulfilling every lender’s request and reviewing condo/HOA docs. Buyers have a few ways to cancel the contract: home inspection, HOA condo/document review. If the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price and the seller does not agree to lower it – you have the right to cancel the deal.
7. Walk through inspection. Right before the final signing we will get a chance to go to the property and inspect if the home is in the same condition and if all agreed upon repairs were completed.
8. Settlement. The final signing is called a settlement. Usually is happens at the physical location of the Title Company. You will have to bring your ID’s and the remainder of the down payment. Once all the documents are signed and the money is delivered to the Title agent – you get the keys! Yay! You can move in! Congratulations!!!
There are a lot more details in this process and I did not want to overwhelm you! I usually walk my clients through all of them in a timely manner. During the contract process I send my clients a email every week with a to do list – so they know what to expect. If you have any questions about the process – please don’t hesitate to ask. I’m here to help!
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