Tuesday, May 28, 2013

How to Close Quickly on Your Northern Virginia Home

You've picked the perfect home and started to process of closing— but a quick closing has become a thing of the past in real estate markets across the country. In today's economy and with current mortgage standards, you're looking at close to three months before your NOVA real estate deal is all said and done. When buying a home in NOVA, the following bits of advice just may take off a month or two and get you that much closer to moving into your Northern Virginia dream home.

The Closing Documents
As a NOVA homebuyer, be sure to sign all of the bank paperwork and send in the necessary documents as soon as possible. One document you should prepare to view in advance is the HUD-1 settlement statement which states the required costs and fees associated with the deal. Viewing and familiarizing yourself with the real estate documents will cut hours off of your closing time and give you extra alone time with your loan papers.

Bring the Check
It's important to bring a certified check to the closing and not one that you find in your checkbook. According to MSN Real Estate, it's important to ask your escrow company if they prefer your payment be by wire transfer or cashier's check. This can save you a number of weeks or days as they are able to cash the check and certify your funds.

Appraisal Process
The appraisal is a major part of the closing process. The appraisal process can take weeks if the appraiser is stalled, but by working with the seller, the appraiser can work in a timely manner and assess every space. If the appraisal comes in lower, you then have time to negotiate with the seller on the repairs and updates needed.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

A Letter to the Seller: Northern Virginia Real Estate Tactics

In today's tight real estate market, being outbid on one of the few homes for sale in NOVA and losing the property to a fierce bidding war are scenarios that are becoming increasingly common. So, what's a NOVA home buyer to do? The answer may surprise you. 

Northern Virginia home buyers are actually solving their problems with pen and paper— writing letters to the sellers of homes they wish to buy. Real estate professionals suggest a letter provides a human element to the home sale as sellers are more willing to part with their property if the buyer is someone they're comfortable with and can relate to.

An example given by the Sun Sentinel involved one buyer who fell in love with a home and proceeded to write an offer— unfortunately, four other buyers were also interested. The home was perfect for someone with pets as the property boasted a big backyard and doggy doors. Not willing to lose the home, the buyer wrote a letter dictating how much the home would mean to her and her pets, even including a photo. The result? A successful sale.

The letter appealed to the seller's personal side and confirmed that this particular buyer was the perfect person for the property.

It seems the simple act of writing a letter can prove to be a most effective strategy in today's real estate market and one that NOVA homebuyers may benefit from. And with low inventory barring buyers from a wealth of choices, you will not want your Virginia dream home to get away from you.

As many traditional buyers do not want to sell their Fairfax, Arlington, or Alexandria property to just anyone, you may have the edge in taking to the page and telling the sellers exactly why you are the right candidate for the home. With a solid offer and this bit of insider knowledge, you may never get caught in another bidding war again.

Earle Whitmore

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Your NOVA Home May Checklist

Now that summer is on the horizon, May is the month to get your Northern Virginia home for what lies ahead. Start at the very top with your attic, work your way out with a stop in the kitchen, before heading outside to tackle the outdoor projects. According to Bob Vila, these are the 5 most important projects for your NOVA home to prepare for the dog days of summer.

1. Prepare for the Heat
While the weather has been enjoyable as of late, we tend to forget just how warm it can get during the summer months. If you prepare ahead of time, you can enjoy the summer with comfortable indoor temperatures without breaking the bank. No unnecessary cooling bills for the NOVA homeowner here!

The first step is addressing your attic insulation. Think about installing an attic fan to sweep out the heat and keep your HVAC system in tip-top shape. Next up, ceiling fans. These should be installed in rooms where you spend the most time— kitchen, family room, and bedrooms— and using these instead of the AC will save you money in the long run.

2. Update the Kitchen
For this season's update, it doesn't have to be a total renovation. Want a quick change? Think about swapping out your old tile for a new backsplash. Or if your ready for a more lengthy weekend project, try refacing your kitchen cabinets. A new wood or a bright coat of paint can instantly brighten up the kitchen in your NOVA home.

3. Yard and Garden Sprucing
May is the time to prepare to spend your days outside in the summer. Improve your landscaping with edging, or plant container gardens or flowers that will cheer up your walkways. For some added fun, try creating your own outdoor pots out of everyday items. Old shoes and even appliances make interesting yard embellishments.

4. No Summer Pests
The best way to deal with outdoor pests in the summer is the natural way. For instance, mice cannot stand the smell of peppermint and cockroaches will flee from Tabasco sauce. Find natural ways to scare off these critters and your summer in the Northern Virginia area will be one of the best yet.

5. Get Ready to Barbecue
Spruce up your deck and patio before barbecue season. Make any necessary repairs to the patio surface and check that your grill is in working order. It's best to clean off old residue and dirt before you fire up the charcoal!

Earle Whitmore

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Unique Situation for Retired NOVA Homebuyers

In a new article from the New York Times, it is suggested that retirees trying to obtain a home mortgage may find that their great credit history and healthy retirement accounts are not enough. It turns out, lenders are also looking for a consistent monthly income to go along with their usual debt-to-income standards. 

For some NOVA homebuyers, they expect that making a purchase, with interest rates as low as they are, would be as easy as it has in the past. But that is just not the case as of late. The problem retirees are facing on the current real estate market has to do with their income.

According to Richard Pisnoy, a principal of the Silver Fin Capital Group, when lenders look at dividends, they want to see a regular annual amount on the tax return paid out over at least the last two years. If retirees are supplementing their incomes with part-time positions, lenders want to confirm the buyers are actually employed at the moment of their mortgage application

Social security paid to retired homebuyers is always counted as their income, but borrowers should also be aware that Fannie Mae guidelines allow lenders to increase that income by 25 percent if the beneficiary isn’t paying taxes on it, Pisnoy stated.

And while some lenders are still issuing loans without confirming homebuyer income, their interest rates and down payments are higher— some at 30 to 40 percent.

So what's the solution? A program called asset depletion is being used by lenders to qualify retired homebuyers. It involves taking a fraction of one's assets, amortizing it, and applying it as income. Retired Northern Virginia homebuyers may have a difficult time obtaining a home mortgage with current lending standards, but it is by no means impossible.

Earle Whitmore