Are you thinking about taking the plunge into the housing market? Now is a great time to think about buying a house, with record-low interest rates and tax rebates for first-time buyers available. Buying a Northern Virginia home can be a complicated process, so it’s good to have an idea of what you’re getting into before you begin. Here’s what you need to know to get started.
First order of business is to determine your price range. Think about how much you will be able to afford for a down payment – generally 20 percent of the purchase price. Then consider how much you can afford for mortgage payments each month. A good rule of thumb to calculate what you can afford is 28 to 33 percent of your income.
Since the housing market crisis, it’s gotten tougher to get a loan. Before making an offer on a home it’s advised that you get preapproved (not pre-qualified) for a loan. You will submit to a lender your financial information and they’ll give you a letter stating how much they will lend you. There are government programs in place to help homebuyers as well, such as the Federal Housing Administration.
What kind of Northern Virginia home do you want? In what neighborhood would you like to live? How many bedrooms do you need? Is the size of the yard important to you? What other amenities would you need, such as a pool or a fireplace? Make a list of what you’re looking for, and determine the order of importance and where you can negotiate.
Once you’ve determined what you’re looking for, begin your search for your Northern Virginia home. This is a great time to start a relationship with a real estate agent. They can help you sort through listings to find homes that meet your criteria. As a buyer, the agent costs you nothing. The seller will be paying the costs for the agent, usually 3 to 6 percent of the sale price.
Once you’ve found a home you like, you can put in an offer. You agent can help you decide what to offer. Going too low could be risky and make you look like you are not serious. You’ll also need to put down “earnest money” so the seller knows your offer is good.
Once you’ve negotiated with the seller and your offer is finally accepted, you’ll need to have a home inspection. This will determine if you want the seller to fix anything, and the seller will let you know if they are willing to make those repairs. In addition an appraiser will determine the value of the Northern Virginia home. The hope is that the home appraises for at least what you’ve offered, or you might not get all the loan money you need.
Closing on the home means signing lots of paperwork. Your money will be turned over into an escrow account and you’ll get the keys to the home. From here you just have to move out of your old home and into your new one!