Steps To Buy A Home

The A-to-Z guide that answers all your questions about buying a home

Step 1 TO BUYING A HOME: Hire a Real Estate Agent

The first step to ensuring the best experience and most beneficial investment of your time and money in this process is to find and hire a Realtor ®. 

There is a difference between a Real Estate Agent and a Realtor®. The latter is held to a higher standard and provided more in-depth training to ensure the best possible service to you during the home buying process.

You can start on Realtor.com, or Zillow, or Trulia to read reviews, but when it comes down to the actual process, having a Realtor’s® access to the MLS system will give you earlier access to new homes in your frame of criteria. 

You choose how frequently you’d like to receive emails about new listings that match your needs, from every hour to every day. This technology saves you a TON of time and stress, knowing that you’ll be notified every time a home drops into your price-range, or is listed with your needs. 

Properties are moving fast in Northern Virginia, and it’s important to be able to make a move on them within a day or two of them hitting the market, or you might just miss out.

You’ve read about our team, and you know that Ask A Walker has your back, you can call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]. We want the opportunity to meet in person, and get to know your needs. If you’d still like to look at some other options, we understand.  

Not all Realtors® are the same. 

You need to find someone you feel comfortable with in sharing your wants and needs, you will spend quite a lot of time with your Realtor. They also need to be dedicated and good at their job. Sit down, have coffee and a conversation to see if you click. 

Start by looking at the response time from that first email or phone call. 

This can show you how quickly your needs will be addressed in your working relationship. If your Realtor® doesn’t respond within 24 hours, it won’t work. This industry moves fast. If you can’t rely on your Realtor® to respond and take action in a timely manner, it may cost you the house of your dreams.

In your coffee chat, remember that it is an interview. You shouldn’t be the only one answering questions.

Go into this meeting with the expectation of signing a legally binding Buyer Representation Agreement. Before you divulge any confidential financial information, this should be signed to protect both you and your Realtor®. This document also ensures that at the end of the process, your Realtor® gets the agreed upon rate of pay from the title/escrow company after closing.

If you have any questions give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

Step 2 TO BUYING A HOME GET MORTGAGE PRE-APPROVAL

Your mortgage lender is another crucial arm of your home buying team. 

It is important to find a lender that will find you the best programs and rates you qualify for, and let you know what you can afford to spend on your home. 

No one likes to shop without knowing what’s in their wallet, so why would you put in an offer on a home without knowing if you can get a loan for that amount? 

Having this lender contact will let you know what to expect in monthly payments before you even have the home under contract. 

Having a lender you trust can rely on is paramount to you having a smooth transaction. Much like with hiring your real estate agent you want to make sure your lender responses within a reasonable time frame.  

Your lender will make sure all paperwork is processed in a timely manner, this will go a long way in making sure settlement isn’t delayed. Without that active and dedicated lending partner on your side, the deal can be delayed or even fall through.

Disorganization or delays in processing can cost you the home of your dreams, so finding the right fit is important. The Ask A Walker team can recommend some highly tested and trusted lenders to work with you.

You can find a list of the documents you’ll need to provide to your lender below, you can also view a video interview we’ve done with one of our recommended lenders here, documents for the mortgage process.

Documents

  • A complete application – provided by the lender
  • Two months (recent) of asset information: 401K, stocks, Retirement funds, checking, savings, mutual funds, IRAs, CDs, etc. (These items will be listed on the application as well)
  • Most recent month of paystubs
  • The past 2 years of W-2s
  • The past 2 years of tax returns
  • The past 2 years of Corporate Tax Returns (if self-employed)

Pre-Approval- Generally, within the first 2-3 day of receiving the documents listed, your lender should be able to provide you with a pre-approval letter for the amount you can afford to borrow. 

The lender may ask for more documents to help process the loan application, or for clarification on one or more documents. 

Once we know how much you are pre-approved for we can build a search profile for you. Your budget may fall below how much you qualify for and that’s fine. Just let us know what your maximum budget is and we’ll take it from there.

Your lender will show you details about your loan including estimated payments, PMI, taxes, and insurance. Make sure you are comfortable with this payment amount before moving forward, you may want to decrease your budget based on these numbers.

Grants and Down Payment Assistance

There are several state and federal programs in place to help cover some of the costs of buying a home. These include, but are not limited to, down payment assistance programs, closing cost coverage programs and more. You may want to ask your lender about the details and find out if you qualify.

Understanding your Loan Estimate and Closing Costs

Regulations in the lending industry have been put in place to protect you and your assets when it comes to taking out a mortgage. 

Lenders are required to provide you with a Loan Estimate (LE) within 3 days of your pre-approval, this shows you your closing costs in addition to the down payment that you will need to have available at the time of closing. You should never be surprised by your loan, and if you have any questions about the numbers, you should feel comfortable asking the lender to explain them in more detail.

Please look over this Sample LE available below, this will outline the costs you should expect to see. Notice that the closing costs include lender fees. Make sure you understand all of these numbers before you move forward. 

This is only an example, interest rates may vary please get in touch with your preferred lender to get an accurate loan estimate for your situation.

Shop Around for Lenders- You should absolutely shop around for a lender that fits your needs. All lenders charge different fees and rates. 

If you have several lenders pull your credit rating close together in an attempt to get the best rates, it can affect your credit score. 

We recommend shopping at least two lenders before making a choice and waiting 2 weeks between meetings. The lenders will need to pull your credit reports to ensure accurate rates.

For any questions about the pre-approval process, call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 4 TO BUYING A HOME FINDING YOUR DREAM HOME

Everyone has a dream home.

Here is the step in the process where we put the numbers and the needs under extreme scrutiny. Hopefully, you’ve looked through and started to complete your checklist, this will help the process run smoothly. 

Now you need to look very closely at the things that you consider a “want” (it would be nice, but isn’t a deal killer) and a “need” (things that must be or not be in the home for it to be livable).

For example, if you have 2 kids that fight like cats and dogs, then you will need at least a 3 bedroom home. If you need an enclosed yard for your dog because you’re sick and tired of walking them in the brutal winter weather, this is also a need.

If you think it would be nice to have a soaking tub in the master bath, then this may be a “want”. You should also look at what you’re willing to accept with the plan of improving it later to meet your desires. 

When you look at a home, will you consider a bathroom without a soaking tub knowing that you can add one in later? Are you willing to put in a little sweat equity to save money on the initial purchase?

Sometimes a reality check happens at this point. We don’t want to dash dreams but need to ensure that you are shopping within a realistic budget based on your pre approval. 

Once your lists are made you will need to email them to us. ([email protected]) and we will input your criteria into our comprehensive MLS search feature. These lists can be altered if you need during the process. If you decide that the kids can probably handle sleeping in bunk beds instead of separate rooms, then we can change that. 

This process will send you a daily email of new properties that fit your criteria, or price drops that put a property into your budget. This also allows us to help you search, reminding you that the home with the perfect kitchen doesn’t have the central AC you listed as a need.

Check your MLS email daily, mark the homes appropriately in the comments, and leave any questions you’d like answered in the comments field as well.

Favorite = We want to see this home, set up the appointment.

Possibility = We’d like to think about this a little longer.

Recycle= No, we don’t like this home, and don’t want to see it.

It is important to communicate to us about the homes that are sent your way, we monitor the comments section of the MLS listings we send you for quick responses, and to set up showings as soon as we can. The market moves fast, so we need to jump as quickly as we can to view and offer on your dream home.

We will need to schedule a property showing, many of the homes that are available are still being lived in either by the owner, or a tenant. That said, most showings can be scheduled on weekdays between 9 am and 8 pm, or weekends from 10 am to 8 pm. 

While some sellers will acquiesce to a showing outside of these hours, try to plan on touring homes within these typical hours. Some homes will also require 24-hour notice, so we won’t always be able to see properties the same day as the request.

During the spring and summer, many properties sell in less than a week in our Northern Virginia market, it is essential that we move fast on them, or they’ll be gone before you know it. When you find a home you want to see, let us know when you’re available and we will do everything in our power to get you through the door to see it.

Remember to wear comfortable slip on shoes, it is standard practice (and good manners) to remove your shoes when viewing a property.

We will bring information sheets on each home we’re viewing, so just bring yourself, and some snacks if you get hungry. 

If you have any questions during this showing and touring process, we are here to answer them.

There will be no need to continue searching on sites like Zillow or Trulia, our automated system will do the work for you. It is updated more accurately and much faster than the data on the third party sites.

If you have any questions give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

STEP 5 TO BUYING A HOME SHOWINGS

In our last blog post, we outlined the steps to get showings scheduled, now it’s time to see these homes you’ve been falling in love with online.

There are a number of things to consider before setting out on the grand tour of homes.

Sellers require preapproval or proof of funds before showing their property. In this business, it ensures them that you are serious in this search, and aren’t just “window shopping” for your eventual dream home. Sellers require some level of notice before showing the home, therefore we ask you to email us the homes you’re interested in before tour day. Some sellers also impose restrictions, such as no showings after 6 pm, on the home. They have strangers walking through their property, and placing this type of restriction enables them some level of control and privacy during the time their home is on the market.

Wear comfortable clothing, and easily removed shoes. We will be in and out of the car, and in and out of the homes frequently. It is common practice to remove your shoes inside the homes.

Dress accordingly for weather forecasts. It is not unusual for winters to be cold and icy, you don’t want to slip and fall on the driveway because you weren’t properly dressed for the conditions.

Vacant homes may not have the utilities on, therefore the heat and air conditioning are likely not functioning. This could make the tour cold if you’re underdressed.

Restrooms are not always usable; therefore you should plan a rest stop somewhere if that may become an issue. This will give you an idea of the local businesses around the neighborhood as well.

Remember that you are buying the home, not the belongings. Look at the space, not the décor. Try not to touch the seller’s belongings, we do not want to be responsible if anything should break. Remind children not to touch things or play with toys.

Inspections will be executed after the home is under contract for a sale, there will be no need to look in crawl spaces or attic spaces unless the attic is a finished usable space.

Many homes have Nanny Cams in place, keep your thoughts and opinions on the home to yourselves until we are out of the home and in a private place to discuss the home. If you have questions about the home, those are fine. Don’t discuss price, what you’d like to offer, or anything relating to finances while inside the home.

If the sellers are home, don’t give away too much about yourself beyond a polite introduction. These details can later be used by the seller and their agent and can be detrimental to our negotiations.

The day before we are scheduled to tour, let us know if you’d like to drive yourself or ride with us. However, it we are touring four or more properties we’d prefer if your rode with us. 

We will discuss where to meet, and at what time in an email the day before tours begin. If you have any questions, this would be the time to bring them up.

Without further delay, let go see these homes!

If you have any questions give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

STEP 6 TO BUYING A HOME I LOVE THIS HOUSE! LET’S MAKE AN OFFER!

You’ve seen several homes and one has captured your heart and imagination. That’s great! 

Let’s talk details. We’ll send you a comparative market analysis for this property. It will show how much similar homes in the same area have sold for recently. This will help you determine your offer price.

Before we can put an offer in on a property, we need some details for writing the offer. The offer, if accepted, is a legally binding document. 

We will need to put in an offer as soon as we can, within the first few hours of seeing the home if possible. We will need you to send us an email with a few more details.

  • Full legal name of every person who will be on the contract.
  • Email addresses and phone numbers for each person on the contract.
  • Offer Price: Make sure you’ve had a discussion with us about the current sale to list price in the neighborhood, this will help you make an accurate and reasonable offer.
  • Your walk-away price: In some neighborhoods, you may get an acceptance, but most likely, you’ll get a counteroffer. Often, the counter is closer to the list price than you offered, and the sellers are needing to negotiate a price that satisfies both parties. You can accept the counter or counter back. Knowing what financial point you will walk from the property helps us with our negotiations.
  • Closing Date: In Northern Virginia, the typical closing date is 30-45 days after your offer is accepted. You can sometimes request a longer closing date, but it isn’t always possible for the sellers to wait that long. Most often, they are selling so that they, too, can move into a new home.
  • Earnest Money: Typically, the earnest money deposit can be expected to be 1-2% of the sales price. This will be due within the first 1-2 business days from the date the offer is accepted. This payment is part of your down payment.
  • Down Payment Amount: The contract outlines the details of the financial payments, we will need to know the amount you plan to put down on the home.
  • Closing Cost Credits: Will you be asking for credits at closing? If you’re unsure of what this means, let’s have a conversation about that as well.
  • Home Warranty: Will you be asking the sellers for a home warranty to cover the breakdown of any major appliances in the home?
  • Contingencies: Are there any things that must happen before you can proceed with the purchase, such as selling your own home before you can close on the new home?

Once these questions have been discussed and answered, we will write up a contract and send it to you for your electronic signature. We use an extremely secure digital signature program, Dotloop, that allows you to sign documents remotely and keeps our files on the purchase organized and our tasks scheduled on time.

Once the signed offer is submitted, it can take 24-48 hours for the sellers to review and accept or counter. This waiting part can be difficult, but worth it if it means you get your dream home. 

Try to be patient, every seller is different and while some may be able to make a decision quickly, others may need time to think.

Have a question, we’ve got an answer. Give us a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

STEP 7 TO BUYING A HOME SCHEDULING THE HOME INSPECTION

You’ve found a house, and submitted an offer! 

Excellent job! 

We can’t celebrate just yet, there is more work to do. You’ll need to schedule a tentative inspection. This puts your inspection on the books for your chosen inspector because inspectors are often booked out several days in advance, especially in the spring and summer seasons.

You can always cancel this scheduled inspection if the offer isn’t accepted. 

It’s important to get your inspection early in the process because the inspector will need a few days to compile the inspection report and you’ll want a few more days to discuss repairs. 

You have a limited number of days within the home inspection contingency period to get everything done and remain within the bounds of your contract.

You will need to attend the inspection, you can plan on 1-2 hours for a condo, 2-3 hours for a townhouse and 3-4 hours for a single-family home. The fees for the inspection are due at the time of the service, so don’t forget your checkbook or credit card. Also, wear comfortable shoes and clothes you don’t mind getting dirty, you may be asked by the inspector to go into the attic or basement space so they can show you some detail.

Give me a call at 703.539.2053 and I’ll introduce you to one of our preferred home inspectors.

Have a question, I’ve got an answer. Give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

STEP 8 TO BUYING A HOME YOUR OFFER HAS BEEN ACCEPTED!

Good thing you scheduled the inspection already! Your offer was accepted, and you’re officially under contract! 

If you didn’t schedule the inspection, now is the time to do it, this needs to be completed as quickly as possible. We can recommend an inspector or two that we trust to give you fast and thorough services.  

Now, your mortgage lender needs a copy of the signed contract to your mortgage lender. We will take care of this for you and make sure your paperwork all gets turned in on time. 

This step in the process will help move you from “pre-approved” to mortgage “approval”. Remember that you’ve only been pre-approved up to this point. 

Make sure to respond quickly to each request from your mortgage lender, any delays in this can result in a delayed closing. Some lenders joke that this is like getting a “financial colonoscopy”, there will be a lot of files they’ll need copies of. This is an absolute requirement of buying a home with a mortgage. The faster you file this paperwork, the quicker your lender can get an appraiser scheduled.

Within 3 days of your contract being accepted, you will need to submit your first earnest money deposit with the title company, this will be personal or certified check. We will let you know what kind you’ll need at the time of writing the contract. 

Make sure you receive a confirmation receipt.

Over the next several weeks we will inform you of anything else we need you to do to keep the transaction moving smoothly. Think of it as a little bit of homebuyer’s homework. We will work closely with you, your lender, and other vendors to ensure every t is crossed and every i dotted.

If you have any questions at this point, please contact us at [email protected] or 703.539.2053

STEP 9 TO BUYING A HOME YOUR EARNEST MONEY DEPOSIT – WHAT IS IT?

After your contract is accepted, and you’re moving forward in the process, you’ll need to submit an Earnest Money Deposit to the title company. 

This will act as a “deposit” and proof of your intent to fulfill your end of the contract. This will be applied to your down payment or closing cost at settlement.

We will provide email documentation of the required value of your earnest money deposit, as well as who it should be made out to and where it should be delivered. 

In the “for” or “memo” line of your check put “EMD (property address)” then put it in a sealed envelope labeled “EMD (Property Address)” and your name. This will ensure the check is deposited into the correct account within the title company.

Go to the company during business hours and ask the receptionist for an earnest money deposit receipt, which you will need to email to us for your file. Also text or email us to let us know that you’ve dropped it off, and to confirm we’ve received the email. We will let the seller’s agent know that the EMD has been deposited with the settlement agency.

Remember that this will be included in your down payment or closing cost, and needs to be deposited within the allotted days in contract to avoid breaching the contract.

For any questions or if you need further clarification, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected].

STEP 10 TO BUYING A HOME GIVE NOTICE TO YOUR LANDLORD IF YOU’RE RENTING

If you’re renting your current home, congratulations on making the big steps towards homeownership. 

You may be obligated to give notice to your landlord or property management company. Depending on your individual lease terms, you may need to give 30-day or 60-day notice of your move before your lease term expires. 

If your lease isn’t expected to expire soon, you have a couple of options.

You can maintain the monthly rent and your mortgage while you settle into your new home, or do repairs before you move in. This is a great option if you don’t want to rush, or if there are major projects you wanted to take care of before the official move.

You can also try to push back the close date to be closer to the end of your lease. This is a more feasible option if you’re just a few months out from your termination date.

If your lease allows, another option may be to terminate your lease early and pay any fee for breaking the lease. 

These are all options you can discuss with your landlord and with us before making a final decision.

Have a question, I’ve got an answer. Give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email me at [email protected].

STEP 11 TO BUYING A HOME HOME INSPECTION NEGOTIATIONS

Now that the home inspection has been done and you have received the inspection report you need to decide how you’d like to proceed. You have a few options here:

Negotiate repairs or credit from sellers. You may request a number of issues are remedied by a licensed contractor at the seller's’ expense prior to settlement. You may also choose to request a repair credit in lieu of repairs. This will reduce the dollar amount you are required to bring to the closing table by the amount of the credit and thereby provides you with the cash necessary to do repairs.

Do nothing. In some instances, you may decide not to request any repairs. Example: If you are in a highly competitive market you may put in an offer that waives the right to request repairs while keeping the right to perform the inspection and void the contract during the inspection period. In this case, the home inspection is for informational purposes only but repairs are not negotiable.

Void the contract. You may choose to void the contract for several reasons. If you and the seller are not able to come to an agreement regarding repairs during the negotiation period you may decide to give notice voiding the contract. Perhaps there was a glaring issue discovered during the home inspection that has turned you off from moving forward with the purchase or maybe there are several issues that are greater than what you are willing to deal with.

If you have any questions about the home inspection negotiation process give me a call at 703.539.2053 or email [email protected].

STEP 12 TO BUYING A HOME NO FRIVOLOUS SPENDING

This isn’t the best time to buy a new car, purchase new furniture, or take a vacation. This type of sudden spending can be a red flag for your mortgage underwriter or can cut into the funds you’ve set aside for your closing costs or down payment. 

Your pre-approval was granted based on your current account balances, debt,  and income. If you suddenly add to your expenses, you risk the loan not being approved upon the final funding request. 

The mortgage underwriters will pull your credit again before closing. It is critical that you heed this advice because it can keep your loan from being approved.

Buyers often think they can charge it to a credit card, but it will show up in a credit report before closing. If there is any question, if something may affect your funding, ask your mortgage broker BEFORE making the purchase.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 13 TO BUYING A HOME APPRAISAL PERIOD

Your lender will order the appraisal within a few days of ratifying the sales contract. 

The appraiser will contact the listing agent to conduct an appraisal inspection. Once the appraiser has viewed the property they will make a price recommendation based upon recent sales of similar properties. 

If the home appraises at or above the sales price and satisfies your lenders’ requirements we are free to remove the appraisal contingency.

Should the home appraise for less than the agreed-upon sales price there are a few options including re-negotiating the price and voiding the sales contract. 

Should the appraisal come in low for any reason we will discuss all your options at that time.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 14  TO BUYING A HOME CONNECT UTILITIES

One of the most overlooked tasks of the moving process is the transfer of utilities. This means calling ahead to put the electricity, trash, recycling, natural gas, cable, and internet into your name for the closing day. 

With your purchase, if it’s in a condo community check with the board president to see if any of your utilities are included in your condo fees. With a condo, you’ll also want to confirm if you need to transfer any parking passes into your name.

Once you’ve established your closing date, try to schedule the transfer and setup of your utilities for that day, some companies may require days or weeks of advance notice for installation technicians. 

Further, utility companies work on established coverage lines, therefore, you’ll need to make sure your service providers work in the area of your new home or find the service providers that do. See our resources page for service providers in the area.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 15 TO BUYING A HOME GET HOMEOWNER’S INSURANCE

As a requirement of underwriting, you’ll need to carry homeowner’s insurance for the life of your loan. Beyond being a smart idea to protect your investment, this is a legal requirement, and you should  start the process ahead of time.

Shop around for your homeowner’s insurance. Check with your car insurance company, and a few other companies to find the best rates for the level of coverage you need.

Set up the insurance policy to begin the day of the closing date as a precaution in the event that there is damage during the closing proceedings.

Request proper documentation from the insurance company to provide to your underwriter, and keep a copy saved in digital format. You’ll be required to provide proof of insurance before the underwriter will fund the loan.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 16 TO BUYING A HOME PREPARE DOWN PAYMENT TRANSFER

Remember that you’ll be bringing the down payment and the closing costs to settlement. Some title companies offer the option to wire the funds securely through your bank. Prepare to have roughly 3% of the loan amount in closing costs unless you negotiated all or part of the closing cost in your offer.

Sometimes family or friends will gift you the funds for your closing or down payment. You will need to let your mortgage broker know that that the money can be properly documented for the underwriter. This applies in cases of inheritance as well.

Funds in this process must be tracked, therefore, all the funds for closing and down payment should be transferred to the same account and you need to make your mortgage broker aware of this account. This is to protect you and your investment as well as the bank from illegal transfers and activity.

Approximately three days prior to closing, you should receive emailed instructions from the title company or mortgage lender giving you an estimate of the final closing costs and instructions for a wire transfer. 

You’ll need to transfer the entire sum in one wire, or cashier’s check one day before closing. To ensure that the title company can accept and process the funds, it’s essential that you transfer them the day before closing.

Prepare your bank for the upcoming wire transfer. While you’re waiting for the lender to communicate the final numbers, it’s best to give your bank a heads up and make sure there is nothing they need from you to complete the process. This would be a good time to ask about the bank’s wire transfer cut off time, some banks cannot process transfers after 4 pm. 

It may seem like we’re harping on this piece of advice, but it is crucial to hit this deadline in order to avoid delaying your closing. Once the transfer is complete and you have confirmation, email us at [email protected] with the subject line “Wire Transfer – Property Address”, also email the same confirmation to the settlement company and your lender.

Schedule time off work if necessary to spend the time needed at the bank the day before closing to initiate the wire transfer and see it through.

If there are any overpayments or refunds due to you, you will receive these after closing in the form of a check.

IMPORTANT NOTE: IN RECENT MONTHS, THERE HAS BEEN AN UPTICK IN FRAUDULENT ACTIVITY AROUND WIRE TRANSFERS. HACKERS HAVE BEGUN TO SEND LEGITIMATE LOOKING EMAILS GIVING FALSE WIRE TRANSFER INSTRUCTIONS AND DIVERTING YOUR DOWN PAYMENT AND CLOSING FUNDS TO THEIR OWN UNTRACEABLE ACCOUNT. IF ANYTHING LOOKS WRONG OR YOU DON’T RECOGNIZE THE EMAIL ADDRESS OR FORMAT, DON’T SEND MONEY UNTIL YOU’VE CALLED THE TITLE COMPANY AND YOUR REALTOR TO CONFIRM THE INFORMATION. FURTHER, AT NO POINT WOULD ANY PARTIES INVOLVED IN THIS TRANSFER ASK FOR THE ACCOUNT NUMBER YOU’RE TRANSFERRING FROM.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 17 TO BUYING A HOME YOU SHOULD GET A HOME WARRANTY

First and foremost, a home warranty is not the same, nor can it replace the homeowner's insurance!

Now that that is out of the way, a home warranty is a contract put in place to protect the major functioning systems and appliances in your home for (generally) a period of 1 year from closing. 

This means that if the refrigerator you received with the home purchase stops working a month into your ownership, the warranty may cover the cost of replacing it. Similarly, these contracts may cover, in varying degrees, the sewer, furnace, air conditioning systems, and many other household systems. The home warranty will not, however, cover external damages like water intrusion, roof damage, etc.  

Meanwhile, a homeowner’s insurance policy covers damages to the home, and the personal property of the homeowner’s in case of fire, hail, property crimes, and some water damage. It doesn’t cover the replacement of systems unless they are stolen from the home. 

What does a home warranty usually cover?

Coverage will differ based on the policy that is purchased. They range from $300-900 for the year and will have different tiers of coverage. The warranty will pay for a technician to inspect and repair the issue. You will be responsible for the service fee charged to have the technician come out, this may be between $75-125, depending on the service agreement. If the problem cannot be fixed, they will replace the appliance or system with a similar model, but not often the same brand.

Who pays for the home warranty?

Sometimes the purchase can be negotiated into the seller's’ costs and will be added to the sellers closing costs. You will receive the details of this policy at closing. If you haven’t negotiated for the sellers to pay, you will need to decide for yourself if protecting the appliances and systems of the home is important enough to you to put the money into a warranty.

Where can I buy a home warranty? If the seller purchases the home warranty, they may choose the company to purchase it from, unless it is negotiated into the contract for a specific company and tier level. If you are purchasing for yourself, there are many companies we can recommend with good reputations and competitive pricing. You should have this sorted before closing, and ready to go into effect on the day of closing.

With adequate understanding and proper utilization of a home warranty, this is a cost-efficient way to prepare for repairs as you settle into your new home.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 18 TO BUYING A HOME CLEAR TO CLOSE

Realtor’s favorite phrase in this process is “Clear to Close”! This is a statement from your lender and underwriter that means they’ve processed all your paperwork, double-checked bank accounts, and all the other little factors that affect your approval, and have approved the loan. 

With the Clear to Close, we have the okay to move forward with closing and the lender has agreed to fund your loan. This means you are good to go, it’s like a ref reviewing the footage and deciding it was a good play, you can continue the game!

Once the Clear to Close is in place, we will confirm the closing date, time and location.

For further questions or advice, please call us at 703.539.2053 or email us at [email protected]

STEP 19 TO BUYING A HOME FINAL WALKTHROUGH

The day is here, and it’s time to see your new home one last time before settlement. The final walkthrough is typically the day of or the day before closing. You need to take this time to ensure the home is in the same condition as it was during the inspection. 

You should expect to spend 20-30 minutes on this process. It’s best if you let us know what time works best for your walk-through appointment.

Here are a few things you should check during your final walkthrough:

  • Make sure the repairs have been made and that you are given the receipts and related paperwork, and warranties on the repairs.
  • Make sure the appliances are all in working order.
  • Make sure there was no damage done when the sellers moved out.
  • Take a list of the things that were supposed to remain after the sale and check that they are there. This includes but isn’t limited to lighting fixtures, blinds, curtains, wall-mounted shelving, tv mounts, etc.
  • Window screens and storm windows are in place or in a safe storage location.
  • Test any intercom, doorbell, alarms, HVAC, and hot water systems in the home.
  • Don’t expect the home to be spotless, the sellers moved, and the home should be “broom clean”, meaning that it's been cleared of basic debris. If you’d like to have a residential cleaning company come in before you move, this is an option.
  • Find out when the trash is collected, appropriate parking, special storage, etc.
  • Ask for the warranty brochures and instruction manuals for appliances and fixtures.
  • Make sure all the seller’s personal belongings have been removed. This should include food in the pantry and refrigerator, clothing from the closets, etc/

The final walkthrough ISN’T:

The time to bring friends, parents, etc. to see the property, or to schedule contractors to give estimates, etc. The better time for this would be after closing and recording.

You can NOT begin moving things into the property during the walkthrough, you MUST wait until after the property has officially closed.

This is not when you will get your keys, that will happen at the end of closing.

Now, you may find some damages or that the sellers didn’t complete a contracted repair. How do we handle that?

You’ll have a few options to consider:

You can choose to delay closing for a reasonable amount of time to complete repairs.

You can request the sellers contribute into escrow the cost of the repairs, this will allow you to close on time.

If the sellers are unwilling to do either of the above, you can void the contract. You may get your Earnest Money Deposit back because they were legally obligated to make those repairs agreed on in the contract. 

Most sellers will do what needs to happen to close on time.

We’re almost to the finish line! If you have any questions about the final walkthrough, contact us at [email protected] or give us a  call at 703-539-2053.

STEP 20 TO BUYING A HOME IT’S CLOSING TIME

As it’s been described in past sections, the closing will be scheduled by us in conjunction with the settlement company. This is the point you’ve been waiting for. You will receive a confirmation email to show you the final location, date and time for the closing.

When you’ve got your closing time and date schedule, confirm your movers one last time. This is a good chance to make sure they’ve scheduled the right size moving crew, and truck to move you and your family efficiently. 

Make sure to let them know details that may affect the move, such as multiple flights of stairs, or if you’re moving into a condo and they may need special parking instructions.

Closing should take about an hour, use this estimate to properly schedule your movers.

Reminders for Closing:

You’ll need a photo ID, Driver's License, and Passport are good options.

Bring your checkbook, just in case there were any last-minute adjustments made.

Bring copies of your wire transfer confirmation from the bank.

On rare occasions, the closing can take up to 2  hours. 

In addition to yourself, the following people usually attend the closing:

The title attorney: to go over all the paperwork, explain details about your first mortgage payment, and subsequent payments, including where and when to send it. They’ll also ensure everything is properly signed, and issue any refund checks after the loan is funded.

Us, Your Realtors

It is critically important to understand what your title attorney is telling you, if at any point you have any questions, no matter how small, ask them. This is a huge investment, and it wouldn’t do you any favors to miss a major detail.

During the closing, ask about the taxes, and when they’re due, and how to get the expectations you’re entitled to. This extra consideration can save you several hundreds of dollars a year.

It will seem like they’re handing you a mountain of paperwork. Keep all copies, but especially the HUD statement, or Settlement Statement. This will be an important piece of documentation that you’ll need when you prepare your taxes.

When all's said and done, you’ll receive your keys, and you’re set to move!

Congratulations!

STEP 21  TO BUYING A HOME, CONGRATULATIONS!

You are NOW a lucky homeowner!

We hope that you’re getting settled into your home and are happy with the final outcome of this process.

There are a few minor details we need to wrap up, now that closing is complete.

In the future, we would like to send you periodic reports to help you stay on top of the property values of your neighborhood so that you can track how quickly your new home is improving in value and you’re gaining equity. 

Would you prefer these reports monthly, quarterly, or yearly?

We recommend setting up a google alert for your property to ensure you’re made aware of any changes.

Finally, we ask that you write a review for us. You will receive an email to help with this process. Ask A Walker doesn’t advertise, so your reviews and referrals help us build our brand and our business. 

Further, if you know of any of your friends and family have any need for a real estate professional, please let us help them. Ask A Walker is here for you and your referrals!

Most of all, we want to thank you profusely for trusting us with your home purchase. Please reach out to us if we can help with finding a reputable painter, handyman, electrician and more.

Again, 

Congratulations, enjoy your new home!

Onward,

AW

The Next Step

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