When you're a first time buyer , you will have to decide whether to contact an agent or lender first. In Virginia, I suggest that you interview and choose an agent first. You might have to interview a few agents before finding one with experience working with first time buyers, and one you feel that you will work well with together. Some agents are more familiar than others with lenders that offer the best loan programs to first time buyers. Some agents are more familiar with required home buyer education courses that buyers must complete to qualify for financing. Some are aware of new loan programs, for example a new proram with a 100 million dollar commitment that just became available June 15th, 2012 and offers 97% LTV with no MI, and requires a 640 credit score to qualify, and currently only 9 lenders are participating in the program. You'll probably want to use one of those 9 lenders. If you plan on buying a home that needs work, some lenders don't offer 203k loans, so you need to know that up front. You need to know that you can still get 100% financing with a variety of loan programs. Many times you will only need $1000.00 out of pocket. Will your agent know the difference between buying inside or outside of a Federal Targeted Area? You'll need to know that Income, Sale Price, and Loan Limits are different. For example, in the Washington DC area, with some loan programs, the Maximum Gross Household Income for 2 or fewer people is $120,900.00, but if 3 or more people will be buying, the max gross income is $140,000.00, and the Maximum Sale Price on any house you might want to buy is $450,000.00. The Washington DC area includes 8 counties and 4 cities under this program. I'll use Prince William County for this example. Prince William is a "Partially Federal Targeted Area". So what does that mean? It means more flexibilty for buyers. For example the Max Sales price of a home can be $498,800.00 which is $48,800.00 more, plus you don't need to be a first time buyer to qualify for financing in a Federal Targeted Area, and your income can be higher. In Virginia, there are 8 counties that are "Fully Federal Targeted Areas, and there are 29 counties that are " Partially Federal Targeted Areas". That information could be important to you when choosing a lender and shopping for a home.
Agents can't make choices for you, but we can help you make informed choices when it comes to choosing a lender. We can help you and guide you, answer your questions, but on the other hand, we are not loan officers, so at some point you will need to choose a loan officer as well. I've only covered a small % of the things you'll need to evaluate when buying a property in Virginia. Contact me for more information, especially if you're a first time homebuyer in Virginia!
Jeff Pearl / REALTOR / Lic in VA
Re/Max Distinctive / Reston VA
Equal Housing Opportunity Provider