When buying a new home, it is important to understand what you are looking for in a new home, what you can afford, what to expect during the search and contract stages of the process, and how to make loan application and prepare for settlement process.
Make a list of desired features for the new home
Consider house style, house size, number of bathrooms, number of bedrooms, neighborhood and proximity to schools, parks, retail services, and public transportation. Will public schools be an important consideration for this purchase?
Prioritize your list
Determine which features are essential needs (“have to haves”) and which are extra needs (“nice to haves” such as a master bathroom with Jacuzzi, three-season porch, etc.). Almost nobody finds the perfect home with all the features they want and none of the things they don’t want. Some degree of compromise is usually necessary, but you should not have to forgo the things that are most important to you.
Know what you can afford
This depends on how much income and debt you have and the amount of money you can put into the down payment. In general, lenders don’t want borrowers to spend more than 28 percent of their gross income per month on a mortgage payment or more than 36 percent on debts. Your loan officer will be instrumental in helping you determine what price home will comfortably fit within your budget.
Work with your realtor to include contingencies with your offer
Most offers include two standard contingencies: a financing contingency, which makes the sale dependent on the buyers’ ability to obtain a loan commitment from a lender, and an inspection contingency, which allows buyers to have professionals inspect the property to their satisfaction.
Understand the home you are about to buy
Home inspections, seller disclosure requirements and the agent’s experience will help. Sellers are required to indicate any significant defects or malfunctions existing in the home’s major systems. If the home is a condominium or a townhome, make sure you are fully aware of the rules and regulations that govern the association.
What Every Buyer Should Know
Get Representation: Some buyers (especially first timers) feel they can handle buying a home on their own. But the key question they should ask is, “Would you want to buy a home from an agent that represents the seller and not you?” That’s the situation unrepresented buyers put themselves in by going it alone. Remember the listing agent works for the SELLER, not the buyer.
Get Loan Pre-Approval: A buyer must be pre-approved BEFORE starting the house tour process. Sellers won’t consider an offer that does not have a letter from a lending institution stating the buyer is pre-approved for a loan to cover the amount of the contract.
Be Specific: You need to have a good idea of what you’re looking for in a new home. So make sure you know which features are “Have to Haves ” (Colonial, hardwood floors, etc.) and which ones are “Nice to Haves ” that you can live without.
Be Honest: Tell us exactly how you feel about the homes you see. If something bothers you about a specific property, say so. We work for you, not the owners of the homes you’re seeing.
Know How Offers Work: The buying process is driven by several key factors, and these factors will determine what your offer should have:
- Mortgage interest rates
- How competitive the local market is
- How long the property has been for sale
- Number of other buyers
- Does list price represent Fair Market Value?
Be Professional: If we’re working together, we ask that you treat our relationship in a professional, business manner. We always treat our clients this way.
As your agent: We can show you any home on the market, regardless of how you found it (Internet, newspaper ad, etc.).
We can help you get financing: The lenders we work with are all top-notch. Let us know if you want their contact information.
Search for a Home
To search for properties in the D.C. Metro area, please use this site. It’s the public page for the D.C. area MLS. Unlike the better know sites (Redfin, Zillow), this site is much more current with its information on property listings. If you have any questions, please let us know.