On the road again, just can’t wait to get on the road again… –Willie Nelson
Such a classic road tune as you head down the Interstate.
With Northern Virginia creating so many jobs, more people than ever are on the Interstate relocating here for work, and a new home where they know few people and little about the area (other than it’s close to D.C.)
You may have looked at every house online in your price range, even looked at the Vienna real estate market where I spend most of my time, and come to the realization that relocating is a huge undertaking (chore) even for your dream job.
I get that too.
Real changes – the second half of 2022
Let’s review some important next-steps to help you move in the second half of 2022.
Even around Vienna, the inventory of homes for sale this summer has increased over the recent market.
All mortgage rates have popped up, and reviewing options like using 7 or 10-year fixed programs which are certainly worth discussing.
You will be able to negotiate pricing and other contract terms, and will find more sellers open to win-win negotiations.
Home inspection contingencies are back! They aren’t considered “offer-killers” anymore.
Unfortunately, Northern Virginia remains an expensive place to buy a home.
Dry-run the 72-hour test
The 72-hour test may seem extreme but you’ll thank me for putting you through my version of the Academy’s infamous Plebe Summer. Here’s a quick overview.
Even for clients who have moved before, they quickly forget how buying a home can feel like a five-alarm fire even in our modern real estate tech reality of Docusign, 3D Matterport virtual tours, Zillow estimates, and instant mortgage approvals (which aren’t actually instant at all).
You need to be prepared to work as a team, be decisive, know your numbers, react to changing seas quickly, and know that, ultimately, there is a safe harbor waiting for you.
This idea popped into my head after a Navy Commander and his wife came up this winter from Florida and told me they had 72 hours to find a house. That was during the peak of the spring market, and the one Saturday when a snow storm hit the region. Undaunted, we saw a dozen homes in seven hours.
- Know the location of your new office
- Add apps to your smartphone and research the market
- Prioritize your wants and needs (exchange lists with your significant others)
- Get pre-approved for a mortgage
- Have money in your account ready for the Deposit
- Know your timelines
- Think like a winner
Location of your new office
Anyone who commutes in Northern Virginia will tell you about missed birthday parties, road construction, and distracted driving incidents.
So, understanding your upcoming daily commute is important because it will help you refine your search area and actual housing expectations. There are over 2.0 million people here, two major airports, bridges crossing the Potomac, Interstate highways, trains, planes and automobiles… planning ahead is essential.
Oh, and then there is a Metro System.
Hopefully, you get the point that having a driving or commuting strategy is important to the future quality of your life when you relocate here.
Real estate apps on your smartphone
Most of my clients already have multiple apps which help them see what’s new or what’s sold. These include Zillow, Redfin, Homesnap, Trulia, Realtor.com just to name a few.
Clients typically will identify styles, areas, and other criteria. Any house that pops up should be sent to me (or your agent) to review basic criteria like HVAC, water, location, or whatever.
My couples workshop – the wants and needs lists
Moving with your significant-other is complicated… to say the least. My recommendation is to put together separate lists of what you hope to find (be specific) in a new home.
Look it over, add a few things, and prioritize the list into “essentials” vs. “would be nice”.
…Wait 5 minutes…
Exchange lists, and discuss.
Today’s mortgages – the elephant in the room
It is important to start the pre-approval process with a local bank or established mortgage provider.
The increase in 30-year mortgage rates has impacted the market. It is important to consider many options including mortgages that are fixed for 7 or 10 years.
If you are a Veteran, know that those VA rates are a tad lower than Conventional rates.
And if you are looking in financing over one million, I can recommend local banks that have very competitive rates for super-jumbo loans.
Essentially, any offer needs to show a letter from a third party confirming that you are financially capable to buy the home. Cash buyers will need a statement from their financial advisor, and I can tell you what you’ll need to satisfy a seller.
In Virginia, the Deposit or Earnest Money Deposit is due within 5 days after contract Ratification.
Ratification happens when your offer is accepted and becomes a Ratified Contract.
So, have that money ready to go into an Escrow Account per the terms in your Contract.
Knowing your Timeline
For my clients moving up from Florida, their ideal timeline was to go to Closing in approximately 45 days. This date is important to include in your offer upfront because you’ll only want to move once!
If the seller is inflexible or needs a rent-back period, then that will be part of your negotiation.
Buyers who have read/watched video that they’ll have to give into seller demands may be surprised when I discuss negotiation strategies. Offers may result in counter-offers, and counters to those counter-offers.
Think like a winner
Having a positive mental attitude is important when you are relocating to Vienna or anywhere in Northern Virginia. Be ready to see homes, make decisions and move on to the next home if one isn’t up to par.
Buying real estate is comparison shopping, and until you handle the merchandise you can’t be sure if those online photos were really telling the whole story.
Like, what’s that weird smell?
Back to the Commander and his wife… when we saw a nice home in a great neighborhood that they wanted to buy, a quick call to the listing agent revealed multiple offers way over the asking price. But then (it must have been Karma), a home that wasn’t on our scheduled list of homes to see caught their eye and it had the ideal backyard they had hoped for.
They bought that house!
Other ideas to help you get started
Home Inspections – Virginia is a caveat-emptor state so having a week to get a home inspection done is smart. A good inspector will give you an excellent opinion of the house and help you plan or budget for updating equipment like a hot water heater, AC unit, or the roof.
Radon – Northern Virginia is close to the Blue Ridge mountains so there is Radon in the ground. Plan to have a contingency and a test done (about $150). If the levels are above the EPA action-level, know that a remediation system (about $1,200) can be installed in 3 hours which will solve this issue.
Having a Buyer Agent – I mentioned before that this is a team effort, especially for people who value their time and understand that real estate has nuances, like location, nearby amenities like grocery stores, schools, or lifestyle. There are offers involving standardized sales contracts, specific local customs, deadlines, and many other moving parts.
A smart Buyer Agent will also help you craft a strategy, give advice in a negotiation, and not leave you hanging if something needs to be done today. Professional resources are important especially when you need specific, expert advice. Talk with a Buyer Agent, sign an agency agreement with them and understand the significant professional experience and value they bring to your team.
Questions? – I am open to answering real estate questions and can typically get back to you quickly.