How To Purchase Your First Home in Northern Virginia

The thought of purchasing a home can be overwhelming.  For someone like me who has helped first time home buyers many times over, it’s a very easy and systematic process.

Here are 7 easy steps to the home buying process:

1) Know your timeline

If you have a deadline or a lease that ends, make sure to give yourself a month prior to your deadline for the loan to go through.  Nowadays, most loans require 30-45 days to get approved, but on some rare occasions, lenders can do 3 weeks minimum to close.  So in addition to this month for the loan to go through, you want to add however long you think it will take to find the right home.  If you aren’t too busy or aren’t too picky, maybe give yourself a month.  If you tend to be pickier, give yourself more time such as 2-3 months prior to your deadline.

2) Get pre-approved

Many people are excited to start looking for a home, however, this is oftentimes putting the cart before the horse.  First of all, you don’t know if you will qualify.  Second, you won’t know how much home you can actually afford.  We can be out searching for weeks, looking at $500k homes, and then find out you qualify for $400k homes – so we both will have wasted our time.  So that’s why it is important to get the pre-approval letter first.  The lender will also help you figure everything out – what type of loan, how much down payment works best for you, what your monthly mortgage will be, etc.  I work with great lenders so I can connect you!

3) Get set up on an auto-email

Basically, you just tell me what your criteria is – maximum budget, location, minimum number of bedrooms and bathrooms, as well as minimum square footage, etc.  Many of you like to use Zillow or other online sites, but many are not accurate or up to date.  Therefore, I will set you up on an auto-email through MLS, so the information comes straight from the Multiple Listing Service database which all realtors use – it’s the most real time information you can get, and you will only be getting active properties.  When you get an email from me/MLS, just start looking at the descriptions and pictures of the property listings.

4)  Viewing properties

This is where you can actually start shopping.  Just send me the addresses of what you would like to see in person and I will start scheduling the showings.  A hint about home searching during a sellers market:  if you see something that just came on the market, you want to go see it right away – either that day or the next day.  Sometimes if something comes on the market Thursday, it will be gone by Monday.  If you see a home lingering on the market for a few weeks, you might be able to wait until the weekend when you have more time to view.

5) The offer

This is where we really get into the nitty gritty.  Basically, when you tell me the property you are interested in putting an offer on, I will run comparable (“comps”) for you so you can know what the home is actually worth.  Perhaps the listing agent overpriced it, underpriced it, or maybe it’s just right.  Also, I will call the listing agent to find if they have any offers in hand, or if they are expecting any offers.  This is important to know because you want to know how competitive to make your offer so you can win over the other offers.  Other items to consider is if you are going to ask the seller to pay closing costs, a home warranty, and if you will waive the home inspection or appraisal contingency, etc.  These are the parts I will walk you through, step by step.

6) Ratified contract

This gets very detailed but the general overview is that you want to provide an earnest money deposit that will go towards your down payment later (usually 1% of the sales price), receive HOA or condo documents to ensure this is the community you want to live in based on the rules and regulations of the community, you will do a home and radon inspection and negotiate if there any repair requests that you will ask of the seller, you will do a termite inspection, and then you will also be waiting for the appraisal to come in which helps you figure out if the home is actually valued at contract price – all while your loan is going through.  Your lender will also be asking you for a ton of documents during this process to get you to loan approval.

7) Final walk through and settlement

You want to make sure at the walk through that all the repairs that you requested of the seller are completed and that the home is substantially in the same condition as when you put in the offer or did your home inspection.  After this, you go to settlement.  You should have received a settlement statement ahead of time that shows the home price, loan price, all your closing costs, any seller credits, and how much money you need to bring to the table.  And after you sign a million documents, you are the proud owner of a beautiful home! 😉

I hope you found this article helpful! I love working with first time home buyers, so please contact me at 703-298-3051 or kathy.kchao@pearsonsmithrealty.com!

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