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Buying a House

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Buying a House | 4 Posts
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Homeownership | 9 Posts
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Richmond, VA | 29 Posts
RVA | 31 Posts
November
2

Get Ready to Buy Your First Home With This Checklist

First Home Checklist

Are you ready to buy your first home? Congratulations! This is a major milestone and an awesome accomplishment that you should be proud of. Our real estate agents understand how important this decision is, and we're here to help anyone who feels ready to enter into homeownership. Get ready to buy your first home by using this helpful checklist.

  1. Check Your Credit Score
    First, we recommend all first-time buyers check their credit score, resolve any issues, and increase their score if possible. A few simple tricks can increase your credit score in a matter of months, which may help you secure a better mortgage rate.


  2. Determine Your Budget
    Before you determine how much home you can afford, you should look at how much your rent and bills cost now. This will give you a baseline of what you can afford, which you can then use to determine how much farther your budget can stretch.


  3. Know Your Finances
    As you look at your expenses, you should also determine how you can save for a down payment. See where you can not only cut expenses but find additional ways to proactively save each month to hit your down payment goal.


  4. Learn About Real Estate Transactions
    Educating yourself about real estate transactions is never a bad idea. Learning the lingo, uncovering the "hidden" costs of buying a home (such as closing costs and moving expenses), and understanding how a transaction proceeds from start to finish will better prepare you for your own experience.


  5. See if You Qualify for Assistance
    Many first-time homebuyers qualify for federal, state, or local programs that either provide financial assistance or enable you to secure a lower mortgage rate. You should also look into other assistance programs available to see if you qualify for assistance.


  6. Get Pre-Approved
    Getting pre-approved for a mortgage loan is extremely beneficial. Not only will you discover how much you qualify for before you put in an offer, but you'll also look better in the eyes of the seller when you place an offer that already has pre-approval from a mortgage lender.


  7. Make a Wish List
    Before you begin your house hunt, create a list of what home features you need, want, and can live without. This will help you view each home objectively and not become distracted.


  8. Find a Real Estate Agent
    A knowledgeable, experienced, and honest real estate agent will be your best resource throughout the homebuying process. 


  9. Tour Homes
    It's time for you to begin your home search. Once you've narrowed the inventory down to your favorite homes, schedule private showings with your agent. Be sure to revisit your favorites multiple times at different hours of the day and night so you can truly get a feel for what the property and neighborhood are like throughout the day.


  10. Trust Your Instincts
    Ultimately, you need to trust your gut when buying a home. This is one of the largest purchases you'll ever make, and you must be completely confident and comfortable with your decision. Trust your instincts, and you'll achieve your homeownership goals.

Would you like to schedule tours of our latest Richmond homes for sale? Let us help you. Contact us today to tour the best homes in the RVA.  

September
21

5 First-Time Homebuyer Mistakes You Should Avoid

Homebuyer Mistakes

Purchasing a first home is one of the largest financial decisions most people make in a lifetime. The process can be an emotional roller coaster -- stressful, exciting, and overwhelming at the same time. For inexperienced homebuyers, it can be difficult to know what to expect and it's common to make mistakes during the house-hunting process. However, with a little preparation and research, you can avoid costly pitfalls and prevent major issues from popping-up down the line. Below are some tips to help you make the best decision when purchasing your first home.

  1. Don't Look at Homes Before Applying for a Mortgage
    While it may be tempting to dive right in and start viewing these beautiful Richmond Homes for sale, your first step should be to apply for a mortgage. Being pre-approved sends a signal that you're a serious, qualified buyer. Not only will this help you understand how much you can afford, but you'll be in the right position to make an offer once you do find the home you love.
  2. Consider Multiple Lenders
    Sometimes first-time homebuyers will accept a mortgage from the first lender they meet with instead of shopping around for the best rate. This can be an incredibly expensive mistake. Be sure to compare rates and evaluate at least three lenders and a mortgage broker to be sure you're getting the best deal.
  3. Draining Your Savings
    While putting down 20% is usually a good idea, it's also important not to drain your savings. Owning a home can come with many unanticipated costs, so it's a good idea to have some cash on hand for emergencies. If you barely have enough cash to make the 20% down payment, you might be better off putting a smaller amount down so you can be better prepared for emergencies.
  4. Forgetting About the Neighborhood
    Remember, you're not just buying the house, you're also buying a piece of a neighborhood. It's common for first-time homebuyers to fall in love with a house, only then to later realize the neighborhood isn't what they expected. Be sure to buy a house in an area that has the location, and amenities that are the best fit for you and your family. 
  5. Making an Emotional Decision
    Because purchasing a first home is such a major life experience, it can be easy to fall in love with a particular feature or amenity. It can be easy to envision some of life's great moments happening in a specific home. While it might be difficult, it's important to try to remove emotions from the decision making process and instead, make sure your future home checks all the right boxes.

Buying your first home can be an intimidating experience, but our REALTORS® can help. If you're a first-time homebuyer, contact us today for assistance. 

May
26

Study Up on These Real Estate Terms Before Buying a Home

Real Estate Terms

Buying a home requires learning a new language. It is normal to feel a little lost in the conversation until you learn the lingo. To help make buying a home in Richmond a little easier, our real estate agents recommend studying the following vocabulary words as you start the process.

Mortgage Terms

  • ARM - Adjustable Rate Mortgage (ARM) refers to a mortgage whose interest rate changes over time. ARM's can adjust at 5, 7, or 10-year intervals, and you will want to go over the terms of the loan carefully before deciding on this mortgage option.
  • Amortization - This option allows you to combine both interest and principal in your payments. This allows you to build equity in the home earlier in the process.
  • Discount Points - Don't like the interest rate offered by the bank? Ask about discount points. You can purchase these and receive a lower interest rate, which can save you money over the life of the loan.
  • Fixed-Rate Mortgage - A fixed-rate mortgage is a conventional loan. Most fixed-rate mortgages are for 15, 20, or 30 years. With a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate remains unchanged for the life of the loan.
  • Pre-Approval Letter - Pre-approval letters are issued by the bank and estimate how much money they will lend you to purchase a home. This requires proving income, employment, and credit history. It's a good idea to get a pre-approval letter before you start searching. There are two reasons for this. First, it helps you narrow your search to homes you can afford. Second, it shows sellers you can purchase the home, and it can give you a little leverage during the negotiation process.

Legal Terms

  • Active Contingent - When the seller accepts your offer, both parties may have certain contingencies, you will need to meet. Active contingencies can include the results of a home inspection, mortgage approval, and the seller's purchase of a new property before you can move in.
  • Appraisal - Lenders will require an appraisal of the home's true value before they will approve the loan. The appraisal needs to be conducted by a qualified third party.
  • Clear Title - It is imperative to conduct a title search before purchasing any property. The title search verifies that there are no liens or levies from creditors or government entities. When you receive a "clear title," you have a green light to purchase the home that verifies there are no building code violations, survey problems, back taxes, etc. on the property.
  • Escalation Clause - This clause establishes how much you are willing to bid on a property if a bidding war develops. This clause will set a ceiling on your bid price and the terms that you are willing to accept as part of the deal.
  • Dual Agency - The laws in Virginia allow real estate agents to represent multiple parties in the transaction. There are strict rules regarding this, and it is essential to ask your real estate agent all the parties to the transaction that they represent.

There are a hundred or more terms to learn when buying a home. Contact us and our team will help you study these as you start the process of examining which Richmond homes for sale are best suited for the lifestyle you want to enjoy. 

May
30

How to know if you're ready to buy a house

Buying a house should never be entered into lightly, and often many potential buyers may not realize just how much work it actually takes or the process involved. Doing as much research as possible can help determine exactly what is needed and required, to put a buyer in the best possible position to make a purchase.

Here are ten (10) great ways to help you identify the point at which making a home purchase becomes feasible for you:

1) Little to no credit card debt

When you're trying to get a mortgage, perhaps the most important aspect of doing so is getting your credit card debt reduced as close to zero as possible, according to Money Under 30. That's true for two reasons. First, the size of your credit card balances relative to your limits makes up a significant portion of your credit score. Second, lenders look at debt-to-income ratio. As long as you're carrying relatively small balances from one month to the next (or ideally, not carrying a balance at all), you'll be in good shape.

2) All other loans paid off

One of the biggest hurdles for the millennial generation when it comes to being financially capable of buying a home is student loans. It may not be wise to try to buy until your loan balances under control. That doesn't mean they have to be paid off in full, but they certainly need to be somewhat small relative to your income.

3) Tens of thousands of dollars in savings

Ready to buy?If you're trying to buy a home in today's market, you'll almost certainly need to make a sizable down payment. While it's possible to get mortgages with down payment requirements as low as 3 percent, the added long-term expense could end up costing you significantly over the life of the loan. Making as large a down payment as possible is going to keep your borrowing costs down.

4) A rainy day fund

In addition to the money that will go toward your down payment, it's vital to have some additional money saved just in case something goes wrong with the home, according to Mint. As a general rule, having about $1 per square foot - or 1 percent of the purchase price - in the bank will help cover some basic expenses you're likely to encounter after your home purchase.

5) A long-term plan

Whether you're buying a home for a whole family or as a single person, you need to know what your situation is going to look like two, five, 10 or even 20 years down the road. That will inform a lot of decisions about the kinds of homes you're looking to purchase - i.e. not buying a small one that you'll have to move out of in a few years when you have kids - and how much work you'll have to put in to make sure your finances are in good enough shape to do so.

6) Reliable income

Lenders also want to make sure you're going to be able to keep up with your mortgage payments in the long term, so a steady job is a must, according to Credit Sesame. While no one can predict their employers' future with 100 percent accuracy, it might not be a good idea to go house hunting at a time of turmoil. As long as you're fairly confident in your position, shopping should be no problem.

7) A comfortable cushion

One issue some homeowners encounter after buying a home is they've pushed themselves so far financially trying to get ready for the real estate sales process that they come out the other side in rough financial shape. Being "house poor" means people own a house but otherwise struggle financially because of the cost of that property. You'll need to make sure you're not buying too much house or else risk running into other financial problems even if you can technically afford the mortgage and other costs.

8) An understanding of what constitutes affordability

Along similar lines, it's vital to not only factor in the cost of the mortgage, taxes and so on themselves, but also other expenses. This may include higher electric and heating bills that come with living in a bigger space, more costly insurance coverage (especially if your new home is in an area prone to flooding) and so on. Sitting down and doing the math around the true cost of homeownership will help you avoid being house poor or running into expenses you might not have realized will crop up

9) A list of must-haves and nice-to-haves

When people actually start shopping for homes, it can be easy to fall in love with certain properties, according to Forbes. However, while it would be nice to have a state-of-the-art kitchen with stainless steel appliances, it's probably going to be expensive and not necessary to your happiness in the home. Having a list of things that you will absolutely need out of your new property - big backyard for the kids, finished basement for a home office, etc. - will inform your choices and help you get a better idea of what you can actually afford.

10) A talented and experienced agent

The key role of real estate professionals in every portion of the process cannot be overstated. They will be able to help first-time buyers as well as those who have previously been through the process get as prepared as possible so they can maximize their understanding and the value they get out of buying a home. Experienced agents have likely seen it all and can help shepherd any client through a sale - as either buyers or sellers - with ease.

 

Buying a home is usually going to be the biggest purchase anyone makes in their entire lives, so it's important to put in a lot of legwork - over a period of months or more - to ensure things go as smoothly as possible at each step of the shopping process. That, in turn, will help you feel more confident in your ability to make a purchase with confidence that you've done everything right. 

 

Brought to you by HMS Home Warranty.  HMS is an industry leader with over 30 years of creating success for clients and providing peace of mind for customers.  To learn more click

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Disclaimer: All information deemed reliable but not guaranteed. All properties are subject to prior sale, change or withdrawal. Neither listing broker(s) or information provider(s) shall be responsible for any typographical errors, misinformation, misprints and shall be held totally harmless. Listing(s) information is provided for consumers personal, non-commercial use and may not be used for any purpose other than to identify prospective properties consumers may be interested in purchasing. Information on this site was last updated 08/09/2022. The listing information on this page last changed on 08/09/2022. The data relating to real estate for sale on this website comes in part from the Internet Data Exchange program of CVRMLS (last updated Tue 08/09/2022 8:52:54 AM EST) or Bright MLS (last updated Tue 08/09/2022 8:46:23 AM EST). Real estate listings held by brokerage firms other than Joyner Fine Properties may be marked with the Internet Data Exchange logo and detailed information about those properties will include the name of the listing broker(s) when required by the MLS. All rights reserved. --

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