Buying a home in the competitive Northern Virginia real estate market may be daunting, especially if you are a first-time home buyer or a buyer who is new to the Northern Virginia market. You will need to work with a real estate agent who is experienced in the area and get pre-approved for a mortgage. A good agent and a savvy mortgage broker will help you find the right property for your budget and one that is a wise investment. Before you start house hunting, here is some information to help you know what to expect.
The Housing Market In Northern Virginia
Just last fall when the COVID-19 pandemic was worsening, the Northern Virginia Association of Realtors reported a 58% increase, or nearly $1.5 billion, in the amount of real estate sold in September 2020 compared to the same time period in 2019. Their service area covers the cities of Fairfax, Falls Church and Alexandria, and the counties of Fairfax and Arlington. They also reported an increase in the average home sales price. The average sales price was $690,981 in September, which was a 15% increase compared to the same time last year. The market was less competitive in the price ranges for single-family homes over $2 million and condos priced above $1 million.
What To Know About Buying A Home In Northern Virginia
With the market as hot as it is, buyers have to know what their budget constraints are and work with an agent who knows their way around. Buyers who have done their homework will have the edge over buyers who have not. Below is a description of what you can expect.
The Buyer Applies for a Mortgage
Buyers in Northern Virginia need to first get pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval will inform you, as the buyer, how much house you will be able to afford. Knowing exactly how much you can borrow with your credit score determines how much you can afford to pay. Once you know precisely what your budget will allow, you and your agent can narrow your search.
Pre-approval also gives you and your seller the confidence that you will be able to close the transaction. A seller is more likely to accept an offer from a pre-approved buyer than competing buyers who have not yet been approved for mortgage financing.
The Buyer Goes House Hunting
Once you are pre-approved, you can start your search. You and your agent can save time by conducting an online search of homes that appear to fit your needs. Your agent can use its own resources to access information about homes that are not yet available, such as homes that are about to come onto the market and are not yet listed, foreclosure properties, and bank-owned properties. Once you have selected interesting prospects online, your agent will accompany you for an in-person viewing of them.
The Buyer and Seller Negotiate a Sale
Once the buyer chooses a property, the agent will help the buyer initiate negotiations by making an offer and submitting it to the seller. The seller will usually return a counteroffer, and the negotiations will continue until the parties agree on a price or terminate the negotiations. The parties may negotiate the sales price along with other terms of sale. Other terms of sale often include sale contingencies such as a home inspection and financing.
The Buyer Makes an Earnest Money Deposit
Your offers will be submitted in writing on the appropriate forms prepared by your agent. You will submit an earnest money deposit along with your offer. The deposit amount is usually at least 1 percent of the purchase price. If the seller accepts your offer, the earnest money deposit will be paid to your title company, which will hold the funds in escrow.
Home Inspections Are Completed
If your purchase is contingent on a satisfactory home inspection, that needs to be completed before the sale will close. The home inspection should reveal any structural or other repair problems with the home. The inspector will provide a written report detailing all minor and major problems found. You can negotiate who will bear the burden of making those repairs with the seller before closing. The seller has the option to decline doing that work, and the buyer has the option of backing out of the purchase.
In hot markets such as Northern Virginia, some buyers do not make the purchase contingent on a home inspection. Not having such a contingency may make that buyer more attractive to the seller. Your real estate agent can guide you on whether a home inspection is advisable for your purchase.
Research First-time Home Buyer Loans In Virginia
If you are a first-time home buyer, you may be eligible for Virginia first-time buyer special financing programs. These financing programs offer mortgage financing to first time buyers on terms more favorable than what is available to repeat home buyers. An experienced mortgage lender can help determine if you qualify for a first-time buyer program.
Reach Out To An Experienced Virginia Mortgage Broker At Fairfax Mortgage Investments
The mortgage brokers at Fairfax Mortgage Investments are very experienced in mortgage lending to buyers in the Northern Virginia market. Make sure you consult with the Northern Virginia mortgage brokers at Fairfax Mortgage Investments to learn about their attractive first-time buyer programs and other lending programs.