Home Buyer Tips

5 Ways To Stand Out In A Multiple Offer Situation

TBD Approval – this has helped us win in a lot of multiple offer situations. It’s something I just started using last year and in a nutshell buyers who have a TBD approval have already been fully approved through underwriting, the TBD is the property. As a buyer with a TBD approval you do not have to put a financing contingency in your offer should you choose not to do so and if needed can close extremely quickly. John Meussner has the Buyers Best program which is their version of a TBD approval. It can really make a big difference and sellers love it because it gives them peace of mind your financing is ready to go.

Clean Contract – I’m just referring to the overall presentation of the contract. Your agent’s needs to be sure everything is filled out, all of the details are taken care of, and all of the supporting documentation is included with the offer. It’s very frustrating for a listing agent when the buyer’s agent attaches 6+ pdf’s that then all have to be merged together to make a complete offer, even worse when there are parts of the contract that are blank and addendums missing. It might sound nitpicky but, presentation makes a difference especially when there are multiple offers to review.

Contingencies – make them as short and few as possible. For a home inspection consider making it for information only. I don’t like waiving them all together but, for information only still protects the buyer should they want to withdraw but, at the same time it also gives the seller peace of mind knowing they aren’t going to get nickeled and dimed over repairs. If the seller isn’t offering a home warranty, don’t ask for them to pay for one. I’ve seen this cause a seller to go with one offer over the other because it really can be a detail that small that makes or breaks you.

Loan Officer Communication – It always a good idea for your loan officer to contact the listing agent after the offer is submitted. I appreciate a call from the loan officer vs. having to track them down immensely. It shows you’ve got a team in place that’s on the ball and real estate takes team work for a successful outcome.

If you have questions about the home buying process we look forward to answering them for you. Contact us at 703-988-3151 to speak with one of our buyer specialists. 

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    Northern Virginia's Best Value Neighborhoods

    Northern Virginia’s Best Value Neighborhoods

    It is peak home buying season and homes are moving quickly in Northern Virginia. Finding the perfect home at the right price can be a challenge. Finding the perfect home in a great neighborhood can be a challenge as well. Luckily, it just became a lot easier thanks to Trulia. Using data from its site, Trulia, assessed all neighborhoods in the Washington DC metropolitan area for their overall value* considering the affordability of homes, number of restaurants, quality of schools, crime rates, and commute times.

    Northern Virginia's Best Value Neighborhoods

    City

    Neighborhood

    $$ Score

    Restaurant Score

    Commute Score

    School Score

    Crime Score

    Median Home Value

    Arlington

    Fairlington-Shirlington

    7

    5

    6

    8

    6

    $408,376

    Fort Belvoir

    Fort Belvoir

    7

    1

    6

    6

    10

    $403,821

    North Springfield

    North Springfield

    6

    2

    5

    7

    9

    $462,533

    Alexandria

    Groveton

    6

    2

    4

    10

    10

    $443,506

    Pimmit

    Pimmit Hills

    5

    4

    6

    2

    9

    $523,434

    Broadlands

    Broadlands

    4

    3

    5

    2

    10

    $604,847

    Topping the list is Fairlington-Shirlington in Arlington. The median home value in this Arlington Countyneighborhood is $408,376. Great schools, low crime, and a moderate commute are features making this neighborhood the best value in Northern Virginia neighborhoods outside the Capital. Originally owned by a friend of George Washington, John Carlyle, the neighborhood is steeped in history. The multitude of housing options from older apartments converted into condos, brick colonials, and many modern homes make it an attractive option for a diversity of homebuyers.

    Nabbing the second spot is a Fairfax County city, Fort Belvoir. This tight-knit military community is the largest employer in the county given that it is home to many US Military Organizations. The city has the lowest median home value of $403,821. Fort Belvoir is a very safe city with a wide selection of single-family homes and townhomes.

    Rounding out the top three spots is North Springfield, another Fairfax County city. Its median home value is $463,533, and is a very safe neighborhood with great schools. Straddling the southeast corner of the Capital Beltway, it also offers a reasonable commute.

    Tying for fourth best are Groveton in Alexandria & Pimmit Hills in Fairfax County. Groveton is just three miles away from Old Town Alexandria, boasting safe streets and great schools. Dog owners might choose to invest in some of this Alexandria real estate given it closeness the Lenclair dog park. The median home value in Groveton is $443,506.

    Pimmit Hills was farmland until the 1950s. Developers continue to add new housing options making Pimmit Hills one of the regions high-growth neighborhoods. It is located next to Tysons Corner and offers moderately priced homes in a low crime area. The housing options range from small homes built for soldiers returning from WWII to modern Craftsman style homes with open floor plans. The median home price is $523,434.

    A notable sixth best in the greater metro is Broadlands, located north of DC in Loudon County. Broadlands is a safe community offering a moderate commute. Outdoorsy homebuyers may want to consider this community’s closeness to the Blue Ridge Mountains offering a multitude of activities including hiking, white water rafting, and wine tasting.

    To move into one of these top-rated neighborhoods contact the Amanda Davidson Real Estate Grouptoday. Stay abreast of the changing interest rates and make sure to know home much home is affordable with tools like this mortgage rate calculator.

    *Value does not mean cheapest home but general affordability combined with access to desirable neighborhood features such as good schools, ease of commute, dining options, and safety.

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      Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

      Are Home Inspectors Ever Wrong?

      Most of the time when we’re talking home inspectors it revolves around buyers hiring one to inspect the home they’re purchasing. That’s not always the case though. Homeowners and seller’s hire home inspectors too. Home inspectors can identify repairs that are needed or going to be needed in the future and that can avoid costly deferred maintenance for homeowners or give sellers a chance to correct a problem prior to going on the market.
       


      I always like to compare a home inspection to going to the doctor to get a physical. It’s not a pass or fail activity. Home inspectors are looking for items that need repair or even replacement, safety items, and do a visual overview of the home. They’re not there to take drywall down, to look behind walls, or do anything invasive to the home. After they complete their inspection they’ll compose a report often with pictures that includes their findings.
       


      This poses the question – are home inspectors ever wrong? Let’s start by pointing out they’re human and no one is perfect so based off that alone yes, there are times inspectors are wrong. We’re all wrong at some point in our lives. Aside from being human and capable of error they’re also not able to see behind walls, under concrete, under floors etc. No two home inspectors are the same. Odds are if you have a home inspection done by two different inspectors they’ll have items that are the same in their reports but, other items that one found and the other didn’t or vice versa. A professional and reputable home inspector will recommend further evaluation if he’s unsure of something or feels there’s more that needs to be looked into.
       


      Fortunately it’s rare but, I have had a few situations where an inspector listed a full write up on something he or she thought was wrong and needed repair or replacement but, after hiring a tradesmen that specialized in X area it was shown that the inspector wasn’t correct. Occasionally buyers will take the inspectors report as the final word and withdraw from a contract. That’s worst case scenario and it’s always a good idea to get a second opinion before making any decisions.

      As with every other profession not all inspectors are created equal. Do your research before you make a decision on who you want to inspect your home or if you’re a buyer your future home. Ask your agent for recommendations and check inspectors qualifications. If something comes up that’s questionable, get a second opinion so that you know where you stand. 

       

       

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        First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

        First Time Home Buyer Mistakes

        Being a first time home buyer can be overwhelming. It comes with a lot of unknown territory and it’s a big investment. Avoiding these common first time home buyer mistakes can not only make it a more enjoyable process it can also save you a lot of headaches.

        Not Knowing What You Can Afford- once you’ve made the decision to purchase a home getting pre-approved should be something that’s at the top of your list to accomplish. Working with a competent and trustworthy loan officer will set you up for success. They will review your finances and credit and then issue a pre-approval for the amount you can afford to purchase a home for. This absolutely doesn’t mean you have to spend the maximum amount you get pre-approved for. It simply provides a guide for what your buying power is and keeps you from seeing homes that are out of your affordability range. Choose your loan officer based on recommendations from your Realtor®, family and friends. They're an integral part of the home buying process.

         

         

        Not Hiring a Realtor®- buying a home is a big decision and it’s far more complicated that what you see on TV. Touring 3 homes and then closing on the one you like best isn’t reality. There are legal contracts, deadlines to meet, inspections, appraisals, and a lot of steps to work through before you can get to closing. Learning about different neighborhoods and what they have to offer to finding the home you want to buy is just the tip of the iceberg. Work with not only a local expert but, also someone that you trust and that you feel comfortable with. You’re going to be spending a lot of time with your agent and communicating almost daily so you want it to be a relationship you feel confident about. As with most professions, not all agents are created equal and selecting the best person to represent you is imperative.

        Emotional Buying- emotion and home buying go hand in hand but, there are emotions you should act on and others that you shouldn’t. Feeling excited or happy towards the home you are purchasing are on the good end but, on the opposite end of the spectrum is making a decision to offer on a home based on emotions such as you’re tight on time, there isn’t much inventory to select from, or because there are other offers on the property. None of those are the right reasons to enter into a home purchase. Look to your agent to be your advocate and provide you with neighborhood information, comparable homes that have sold, and to answer your questions. Trust your instincts, you will know when you’ve found the one. It sounds cliché but, all home buyers get a certain feeling when they’ve found the right home and only then should you start the offer process.

         

         

        Not Having a Home Inspection- without exception, get a home inspection. Even if you’re in a multiple offer situation and trying to strengthen your contract you can make the home inspection for information only vs. waiving it all together. Information only just means you’re letting the seller know that you will have a home inspection done but, that you won’t ask for any repairs. This protects you and your earnest money if a major problem is found and you decide to withdraw from the contract but, still gives the seller peace of mind that you aren’t going to nitpick on repairs. Waiving the home inspection is a very risky decision and not one we recommend. Even if you’re purchasing a new construction home, have your own inspection completed.

        Not Budgeting for Home Maintenance Costs- being a homeowner is exciting and rewarding. It is also a big responsibility and that includes maintaining your investment. Deferred maintenance costs substantially more than routine maintenance. It’s important to allocate money each month for home maintenance and/or repairs. It can be a good idea to setup a separate bank account that’s used strictly for savings for the future maintenance your home will need. After you become a homeowner if something breaks or needs repair it will all fall under your budget. Saving money each month will put you on the right path to always being prepared when your home needs attention.

         

         

         

         

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          How Many Homes Should You See Before Making An Offer?

          How Many Homes Should You See Before Making An Offer?

          This is a question I get asked a lot. It comes from first time home buyers the most but, there are many buyers out there who wonder just how many homes they should see. The answer … there is no magic number. Sorry to disappoint but, there really isn’t a one size fits all number.
           


          A home buyer who is focused in on one specific neighborhood probably won’t see as many homes as one who is looking at multiple neighborhoods or even multiple cities. That just comes down to the number of available homes in relation to a specific area. A narrow or even just a focused search area equates to less homes to choose from.
           


          Technology has always changed the average number of homes a buyer sees. When I started in real estate over 10 years ago on average clients would look at 10-12 homes. Virtual tours, 3D tours, videos, and improved photography allow today’s buyer to see a lot about a home without ever stepping away from their computer. In the last 3 years the average number of homes my clients tour has decreased to 7-9. Those are averages though – that’s not to say some don’t walk into the first house they see and know they want it where others could look for months to up over a year. Again, there’s just no one size fits all.
           


          I also think asking the right questions and really listening to my clients can impact how many homes they see. Sometimes it’s what they don’t say but, what they react and connect to while touring that really gives me insight to what they are seeking in their next home. From there I can target homes that have similar characteristics and help them really hone in on what’s important to them.

           

          Buying a house that you’re planning to live in and make your home is emotional. There’s a feeling that comes when you know it’s the one. I know, that sounds really cliché but, it’s the absolute truth. My clients probably think I’m crazy when I tell them they’ll know when they’ve found “the one” but, then when the right feeling comes over them they know what I meant.

           

           

           

           

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            Buying A Home In Northern Virginia In 2018 ? Part 1

            Buying A Home In Northern Virginia In 2018 – Part 1

            Buying a home is a big decision and it takes proper planning. We sat down with senior loan officer Brian Pawsat of Caliber home loans to talk about what he’s seeing for mortgage rates and down payments in 2018. We also picked his brain about the Northern Virginia real estate market.
             


            Mortgage rates – they’re on the rise. We’ve all been talking about it for years but, it’s really happening. As of today’s post they’re over 4%. An increase in mortgage rates makes the biggest impact on buying power. In Northern Virginia the current average sale price is $500,000 with an average loan amount of $400,000. If rates increase just as little as 1% that would reduce buying power by $50,000 assuming the buyer wants the same monthly payment. Another way to look at it would be based off a $400,000 loan if rates increase 1% the payment would go up by $260 per month.

             

            Down Payment – this is different for every buyer but, we want to make sure that if you’re considering buying a home this year that you know you don’t have to put down 20%. There are other options that are available. A 10% down payment is something we see frequently. It really comes down to each individual borrower’s profile. Selecting an experienced loan officer that you trust is important, they can show you what your options are and help you decide what down payment is best for you. Brian mentions in the below video that he has programs that enable as little as 3% down.
             


            Waiting To Buy Until You Save More – this might not be the best plan. While you’re saving more money for a down payment home prices and interest rates are on the rise. Run the numbers with your loan officer to see if waiting is really the best plan. It could mean you’re missing out on building equity and that a loan will cost you more down the road in the form of a higher interest rate.

             

            Stay tuned for part 2 – coming next week!

             

             

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              How To Determine What To Take With You When You Move ? Take It or Toss It?

              How To Determine What To Take With You When You Move – Take It or Toss It?

              We recently wrote a post about working on getting your home ready for sale on the interior while it’s still cold out. Tackling overflowing closets by getting rid of items you no longer use was one of our main points. It got me thinking that while de-cluttering sounds easy to many of us (and for some it is) for others it poses the question of what to take and what to toss?

               

               

              Clothing – start by asking yourself when the last time was that you wore it. If the answer is more than a year ago the odds of wearing it anytime soon aren’t high. Toss it! If you still can’t decide ask yourself if you’d buy it again – perhaps in a different size or color. If the answer is no it’s time to toss it.

               

               

              Household items – if you have multiple sets of dishes that you don’t use it might be time to get rid of some or maybe you’ve accumulated various sets of bed sheets over the years and aren’t sure what to take with you. We again recommend asking yourself a couple questions to determine the take it or toss it answer. If you’re using an item regularly chances are there’s no question you’re taking it but, if it’s been collecting dust ask yourself if you want to pay to move it.

               

               

              Sentimental items – this can be a broad category. Things from high school, items your grandparents gave you, something from on old flame – the list can go on and on. Hold an item in your hand and see what memory it jogs. If you can’t recall where it came from you don’t need to move it with you but, if it’s an item that you’d be sad if it were broken or lost it’s likely worth taking.

               

              Cleaning and organizing prior to a move means you will have gotten rid of or donated what you don’t want and in turn won’t be paying to move it. It’s time consuming but, well worth it to save money on your move and not clutter up a new home as soon as you move in. Invest the time it takes to go through each item and make a decision on what it is you really need.

               

               

               

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                Buying A Home In Northern Virginia In 2018 ? Part 2

                Buying A Home In Northern Virginia In 2018 – Part 2

                This is part 2 of our buying a home in Northern Virginia in 2018 series. You can read part 1 of our series here. We pick up where we left off with senior loan officer Brian Pawsat of Caliber home loans to talk about taking the right steps to purchase a home this year and what the current market conditions mean for home buyers.
                 


                Brian makes an excellent point that unless you live with your parents you’re going to have a housing payment – that could be rent or it could be a mortgage. When you become a homeowner you are able to then include tax write offs (even with the new tax laws) and when you’re renting it’s strictly an expense. No write offs and no building equity.
                 


                Pre- Approval – it’s never too early to get pre-approved. In Brian’s words you don’t know what you don’t know. Finding out what you can qualify for is the first step towards owning a home. Gone are the days where a 20% down payment is a must, there are lots of other options available. Getting pre-approved as soon as you’re considering buying will also alert you if there’s anything that needs attention on your credit report. Waiting can mean a surprise comes up when you’ve already found a house you want to make an offer on and that’s not the kind of surprise anyone wants.
                 


                To recap rates are rising and in Northern Virginia so are prices. This is expected to continue throughout the year and impacts buying power. Down payment varies by each individual borrower, don’t assume you need to put 20% down in order to purchase a home. Get pre-approved even when you’re just considering purchasing a home so that you know where you stand.

                 

                 

                 

                 

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                  Tips For Buyers In A Seller's Market

                  Tips For Buyers In A Seller’s Market

                  Many areas are experiencing extreme sellers markets right now and Alexandria is no exception. How can you prepare as a buyer who is looking for a home in a seller’s market?
                   


                  Get Pre-Approved – the market is moving very quickly and when you find the home you want to make an offer on you need to act quickly. If you have to wait one to two days to make an offer because you’re waiting for a pre-approval you risk the house going under contract. Sellers are not going to consider an offer that doesn’t have documentation included showing that you qualify to buy their home.

                  Be Prepared For Competition – in a seller’s market it can be a good idea to focus on homes that are slightly below what you want to spend. Multiple offers equate to homes being sold for above list price and by looking slightly below your budget you leave yourself room to be competitive if you want to offer above list price to appeal to sellers.
                   


                  Do Not Delay – go with your instincts when you find the right home don’t delay in making an offer, especially if it’s a new listing and getting a lot of traffic. Homes that show well, are priced correctly, and easy to show are moving in a matter of days. In the current market conditions not acting quickly when you know it’s the right home can mean you never get a chance to make an offer.

                  Best Offer – a seller’s market is not the time to test the negotiation waters. This will vary for each home and you should consult with your agent on offer terms. If the home has only been on the market a couple days or if you know there are multiple offers always put your best foot forward when making your offer. You might not get another chance to improve it and want to have the best shot at the sellers selecting your offer to work with.
                   

                  Use A Professional – you need a buyer’s agent to represent you and your interests. The sellers have a listing agent working on their behalf and exclusively representing them. You need the same! An experienced agent will advise you on market conditions, gauge activity on a home to guide you on an offer, negotiate, and be an advocate for your best interests throughout the entire home buying process.

                  The current market conditions can be tough on buyers but, with the right representation and planning ahead you will be successful in your home purchase. Reach out to us if you have questions about the Alexandria real estate market! We are always happy to answer questions and would be happy to setup a complimentary home buyer consultation with you. 

                   

                   

                   

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