Homebuying Tips for LOUDOUN COUNTY, Virginia - PART 1
So...you think you're ready for homeownership in Loudoun County?
This was exactly what I asked myself back in 2002 when I first considered transitioning from the "safe" role of renter to owner. Back then I was reluctant to commit to a relationship much less a 30 year mortgage. But I found an area (Loudoun of course) I felt comfortable in, figured out what was (beneath my means) affordable, what was reasonable to maintain in light of a heavy travel schedule...and said "I Do". And I'd done it eight times since, weathering several real estate markets and still coming out ahead.
1. So what is "readiness" when it comes to homeowneship? A few questions to ask of oneself are:
- Am I in a stable financial position (lender will look at two years of consistent employment at or near your current salary)? What can I easily afford and still do the things I enjoy?
- Am I in a stable emotional place in my life? Buying a home is not the answer to divorce, a breakup, death of an immediate family member, etc.
- How long can I commit to being in one place?
- What school pyramid do I want my kids to be in?
- What kind of activities are the largest part of my/my families' lifestyle?
- How accessible are my friends, family and colleagues
- What does the local area infrastructure look like (e.g. roads, hospitals, airports, public transportation)
- How long am I bound to my current housing situation?
- What kind of a commute am I able to tolerate?
- Do I need a community that is "pet friendly"?
- ...and the list goes on. Why you should consider #3.
2. Determining affordability. There is nothing worse than being house-poor, and being prepared "in writing" is the best way to thwart the temptation to buy more than you really need. It costs you two credit points to have a lender go through your financials to pre-approve you for a home. But surprisingly many would-be buyers stop at pre-approval before consulting a real estate professional. When requesting a pre-approval letter from a lender, also make sure to ask for a Good Faith Estimate (GFE), loan analysis, fees worksheet - or whatever label of the week they're slapping on it. This breaks down a "sample" home from list price to the total cost of ownership - which includes everything from your PITI (Principal, Interest, Taxes, Insurance), HOA fee - as well as closing costs and prepaids (What?! A buyer is not just responsible for the advertised price of a home?!), which are comprised of costs to finance your loan, title fees, funding your tax and hazard insurance escrows, purchase taxes, etc.
To obtain a GFE, send the lender a listing that contains:
- List price
- HOA and/or Condo fees
There are 10 sections to this series...more to come!
Have a question in the meantime...don't be shy...ask me!