Have your finances and paperwork in order – You wouldn’t go to the grocery store without knowing what you wanted to buy and you certainly wouldn’t write a check without knowing how much you had in your checking account. This is essentially the same reasoning and planning required when considering a home purchase. While the investment is vastly larger, you need to know how much you can afford to buy before you do anything else. Talk to various lenders with the understanding that they can only give you estimates based on today’s rates. Until you ratify a contract, you will not be able to lock in a rate so the numbers you are given are to be used loosely. While the rates are increasing (and the Federal Reserve is expected to increase rates throughout the selling season if the economy continues to improve), keep a close eye on your budget and any consequences a rate increase could have on your bottom line.
Seek a local agent you trust or who has been referred to you – This is especially true if you are moving to an area you are not familiar with. But even if you are familiar with the area, if you have not been paying attention to the market, there are many factors that you need to consider. A professional is well equipped to help keep you on track without making you feel overwhelmed, make recommendations that you may not have considered important, provide resources that will help you make a more informed decision, and educate you on any changes in the real estate market.
Start your research online early – Once you know how much you can spend (and again, this is a relative number contingent not only on list price but also taxes, homeowner association fees, actual market value and probably sales price), you should start your search in earnest online. With help from your agent, you can receive automated updates that include specific criteria based on your unique home search. In this time, you can visit some homes that are open or set appointments with your agent to get an idea of what is actually available. Oftentimes, buyers start the process here and that is fine. However, before you make any serious considerations for a home purchase, you should contact your lender and Realtor® so you are well prepared should you want to proceed quickly.
Visit neighborhoods early in the process – Once you have an idea of how much you want to spend and what type of home you want, narrowing down the neighborhood is important. Visit communities that have homes within your budget and that you are attracted to. Drive through at various times of the day and night. Are kids out playing? Are there sufficient amenities? Is there significant traffic? Are people loitering? Are the neighbors out doing yard work? If so, walk through the neighborhood and talk to the neighbors.
Know your limitations – Price, schools, location, commute, neighborhood, contingencies, needs/wants – these are all important considerations when you are looking for a home but you and your family are the only ones who can prioritize these items. For some, having a short commute to home is much more important than the size or age of the home. For others, the size of the lot and the privacy it provides is paramount. Determine the things you cannot compromise on and know that with that comes a price (financial, time, amenities, size of home, etc.).
Be competitive – Be prepared to be aggressive and move quickly and decisively – especially if your search is within the Greater DC Metropolitan area. Remember, you are searching with a lot of other buyers and while prices are still more depressed than they likely will be in July, there is a limited inventory supply and with that, inflated prices. Don’t be surprised to see homes sell within a weekend and with multiple offers and above list price. Springtime is not the time to cut a “deal” if you are looking for a home in good condition and in an area within a reasonable commute to DC or a metro stop.
Concentrate on pros and weigh cons that can be changed – Don’t bother looking for perfection. Instead, make a list of all the items that will make this “home”. List the items that will need to be changed immediately that the seller might not address (trees too close to home) and items that can be changed in time (updating kitchen appliances). If the home sits on a cliff or backs to a very busy street, not much is going to change that, if anything at all. If you can’t change something easily, consider that carefully because it will be glaringly obvious down the road.
Put your best foot forward – A Realtor ® is well equipped to help present your offer to the seller in the best light possible. There are various strategies: a personal letter to the seller; strong financing using a local lender with a solid reputation; shorter contingency periods.
Stick to your budget – While some homes may come on the market that might tempt you to stretch your budget, it’s important to stay within your comfort zone. Researching a variety of loan programs and products with various lenders will give you more options to expand your price range.
Buy a home that “feels” like home – This I cannot stress enough. I always say you should “feel” like you’re home when you have come to the point of making a decision on a home purchase. That doesn’t mean you won’t have any concerns or anxiety. But you should feel like you can picture yourself in it with your family, in the yard, playing with the neighborhood kids or entertaining your family and friends in your kitchen. See yourself in the space and when it feels right, it probably is!
Working primarily as a referral agent, my main motivation is to be able to provide you the highest possible level of service as you look to buy or sell your home in the Northern Virginia Real Estate market. You should be so impressed with your service that you will feel compelled to refer me to your family, friends and colleagues. Our time together is always well spent meeting your specific needs because my time and effort is not spent looking endlessly to generate more business.
As a Buyer's Agent, the buyer's criteria becomes paramount during the home buying process. Your needs will never be compromised because Dual Agency is not something I participate in. This is a distinguishing characteristic from many in the industry and I stand firm in the belief that no client in a transaction (whether a buyer or a seller) should be without 100% representation. You deserve all the loyalty and attention from an agent who will always have only your best interests in mind.
Keeping in mind that Northern Virginia is a highly transient area, I am always privvy to sales reports and market analysis of all the surrounding counties from Alexandria/Arlington to as far south as Richmond County and from east on the Potomac and Rappahannock Rivers to the Shenandoah (and all points in between!). Between the military, corporate, and government relocations, having an agent working to provide you with the latest statistical information and market trends is imperative to a successful sale or purchase.
Also, as an e-Pro, finding you homes and communicating that to you becomes increasingly efficient, as does marketing properties for sale. Using exceptional photography for virtual tours, staging all listings, and incorporating "out of the box" methods to generate the largest number of buyer leads while Marketing Your Property For Sale, I can save you time, money and frustration.
Start your search for homes at http://www.IreneMoralesWard.com!