Homebuying Tips for LOUDOUN COUNTY, Virginia - PART 2
So now that you've passed the first two "tests" to determine if you're ready to become a homeowner...you're probably wondering what more is there to the process of getting keys to a place all your own...
3. "Window Shopping". Even before you consider engaging a real estate professional, use "no obligation" resources to get a jump start on figuring out the best location, home type, lot size, community, amenities, school pyramid, privacy, etc. that are the best fit for you or your family.
Sites like REALTOR.COM, Trulia, Zillow, etc. can help familiarize you with active listings. Get out on a sunny weekend day and "feel" your way through a few communities at a time. Who lives there? Are there kids running about? Do owners take care of their lawns and landscaping (AKA "pride in ownership")? Don't be shy about getting out to chat with neighbors...tenants especially will tell you what they think...if they would buy there. Ask the most tell-all of questions, "would you live/buy there again"?
Open Houses are another great way to get a taste of what might be without having to make any commitment to an agent. While touring neighborhoods by addresses is a great way to get a sense of community and exterior features, open houses get you on the inside. Floorplans from pictures come alive as you pass through each room, and the differences between two and three dimensions separate what will and will not for the family. Do you need a family room that opens to the kitchen? Is a den/study a must or just nice to have? Does the home have any exterior features (e.g. garage, porch, patio, deck) or will you need cash to get that done? How about a finished lower level?
Oh, and as a courtesy to the homeowner, please do sign in when you visit an Open House. You'd certainly want to know who went through your home if it were your home on the market for sale.
4. Consultation. Now that you've scratched the surface (and gotten very excited!) about being another step closer to ownership, you might also be overwhelmed by a seemingly complicated process with an unending stream of details to take into consideration. It's time to start interviewing agents.
A competent, caring and experienced agent will always put the client first. I recommend choosing a few from no less than three from different brokerages. In a business unfortunately riddled with breaches of ethical behavior, look out for your own interests by asking questions of the agents during the consultation process, or save them for the end. Google/Facebook/LinkedIn your prospective interviewees to see how they portray themselves publicly. Ask about everything from their productivity (are they full- or part-time), client references, to the end-to-end flow of the homebuying process. Inquire about professional partnerships (e.g. home inspectors, appraisers, contractors, lenders, title companies), how the agent intends to get compensated...and just exactly what your out-of-pocket expenses are going to be during the process. If you are a United States Veteran or active duty member of our military, VA offers special benefits and an agent familiar with Veterans Administration lending practices will be able to guide you in this regard.
Know that it's Virginia state law for agents to have a Buyer/Broker Agreement signed, so don't be put off by this request. If commitment to a complete stranger for such a significant purchase makes you squeamish...ask to spend a day together viewing homes and sign on for that amount of time.
At the end of this process, the chemistry will become evident and you'll be in a position to make your agent selection.
There are 10 sections to this series...more to come!
Have a question in the meantime...don't be shy...ask me!