Tag Archives: First Time Homebuyer

What is the role of a title company in Northern Virginia?

What is the role of a title company in Northern Virginia?

During the home buying process, roles like those of the realtor and home inspector are easily understood. Other roles, like the role of the title company, may be puzzling. It’s important to understand the critical role that the title company plays in the purchase of your new home, as it protects you from legal disputes over the property. If you are purchasing a home in Northern Virginia you have the right to use a title company or a real estate attorney to close and process your transaction. With most residential transactions in Northern Virginia, a title company is used. Here are some key points to know about your title company. Continue reading

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Local Real Estate Market Stats and What They Mean to You

Local Real Estate Market Stats and What They Mean to You

Are people buying real estate in today’s market? What price are homes in the area selling for? How long are homes staying on the market? All of these are good questions to ask your real estate agent whether you’re buying or selling. Continue reading

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Home Buying IS Within Reach!

So many people, especially the young, are discouraged about their ability to buy a home, especially with the newest generation of homebuyers having born witness to the “housing bubble.” But let’s face it, that was almost a decade ago and the real-estate market has made a strong comeback with fair pricing and an honest loan system accessible to those who never thought it possible in their lifetime. Lucky for us, we have the details on how you can reach buying a home especially if your profession is in law enforcement, education, firefighting, and healthcare thanks to the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA).

The VHDA offers free grant money for down payment and closing cost assistance for qualified homebuyers to help overcome common barriers in the housing market. Income levels have to meet specific requirements and the home has to be a primary residence. There are also programs for non first-time buyers so read on! Credit scores, income level and location are the factors that drive the type of VHDA financing you can qualify for. Not one program fits all and there many VHDA grant and loan programs to consider.

Some people are deterred by interest rates, others by the ever-increasing qualifications for acquiring a home loan. Then there’s that huge down payment that far exceeds the money many of us have available to use. And last but not least, the word “mortgage” in and of itself can be mighty intimidating. But have no fear! You can find the solutions here:

Homebuyers Classes and Education

Young couples and other first time homebuyers can benefit from free classes offered by the VHDA to help de-mystify the home buying process. If you don’t have the time for a class you can also request a packet of information to review at your leisure. But more importantly, and what I always recommend is a face-to-face meeting with a qualified VHDA loan officer. Empower yourself by learning the most recent qualifying information, which can change yearly, and to better understand the process and timeframes to finance and complete a purchase.  Knowing your lead times is critical to not only you but to your realtor and closing team to best plan your home search. Understanding the ins and outs of the home buying process can help lift the intimidating feeling many have when considering a home purchase.

Low and Zero Dollar Down Payments

For many homebuyers, coming up with that huge down payment is the main hurdle. However, the VHDA offers loans with low down payments — some as low as zero! This is easy to qualify for, especially for veterans and rural housing options. Rural housing options are not as daunting as they sound. You don’t have to buy a 50-acre spread. Most rural options allow for areas just outside of city limits and Prince William, Loudoun, and Fauquier Counties are just of few of the nearby counties that qualify.

30-Year Fixed Interest Rates

Home Buying IS Within Reach! What?! Thirty years without fluctuations in interest may seem like a pipe dream for some homebuyers. However, it’s as real as it gets with the VHDA. First time homebuyers and young couples can feel secure with the  “low 30-year fixed interest rate” as the primary feature on all VHDA home loans.

Fixed Monthly Payments

Just the sound of the words “mortgage payments” makes some people cringe. Yet, the VHDA offers a low fixed monthly payment to qualifying loans. VHDA fixed payments can make home owning less stressful.

I encourage you to take a look for yourself, and see just how easy it is to access these great benefits and buy a home of your own. For more information regarding the loan features and benefits mentioned here, visit the VHDA Home Loan page, or contact Belinda Jacobson-Loehle at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

 

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Real Estate Contingency

It’s Always Something: Contract Contingencies

The real estate seller/buyer contract is an amazing thing. The seller is moving on to new adventure, and the buyer is moving in to a new adventure. Both the buyer and the seller must agree to the terms, and their signatures imply they will follow through. Then, you notice it, a contingency.

A contingency is an additional request clause in a real estate contract that outlines the actions to be satisfied to bind that contract.

There are two important things to remember when dealing with contingency. First, there will be contingencies. Yep, there is never just one. The seller and the buyer, as well as the mortgage company or other entities involved in the contract, have the right to request specific actions be fulfilled to close the contract. Second, contingencies are for the protection of all the parties involved in the contract, working to catch problems in several areas of the complicated real estate process before the contract binds either party to the sale. Below are two examples of what types of contingencies may be included in your realty contract.

Home Inspection Contingencies

Many contracts include a home inspection clause.  Inspections of the water and septic systems or for radon can tell the buyer how safe the home actually is or if the septic system is about to fail. Older homes may contain lead-based paints that are dangerous, specifically to young children. The home may be in a high radon area, which could lead to health problems for the new owner if this easy-to-fix but not inexpensive issue has not been detected.

Homeowners insurance is a valuable tool in any owner’s toolbox, but without an inspection, how will you know if issues such as synthetic stucco or polybutylene pipes may cause the home to not be insurable as well as bring on possible added expenses and repairs?  Polybutylene pipes, also known as gray poly pipes, have been known to burst, leaving devastating water damage. Exterior insulating and finish system, or synthetic stucco, can harbor water and mold if not installed properly.

Market Contingencies

The financing game is never a sure thing, and the real estate market can be booming in one area and static just a town or two away. Many times the house may be perfect, but all the financials are not aligning with the stars. In these cases, several contingencies may be included in the contract to ease the process or cover issues that are not controllable by all parties.

The seller may include a “home of choice” clause that keeps the sale from going through until they have selected a new property. The buyer may include a version of this clause, having the closing be contingent on the sale of their current residence. Both parties may agree to include coinciding settlement contingencies allowing for the need that both the buyer and the seller must be in a position to close on other properties before the lender provides a loan commitment and the contract between them is binding.

The seller might also want to include a “back-up contract” contingency clause if the viability of an existing offer and its contract is in question. The back-up clause allows for the seller to be in a contract with you that goes into effect immediately if the first contract falls though. Basically, the back-up leaves you standing in line, waiting to see if you will get the property, but when the market gets hot, it is best to be at the beginning of the line than the end.

I could have discussed so many more examples, but that could get mind-boggling. In fact, not all contingencies have a category, and many times miscellaneous clauses are included. As in life, there is always something! The best way to understand the world of contingencies is to ask a trusted expert in the real estate field. If you are ready to buy or sell a home and want someone that can work through the complications, contact Belinda at Jacobson Realty and Home Staging today.

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What is a Buyer’s Agent?

What is a Buyer’s Agent?

Homebuyers (especially first time homebuyers)Homebuyers (especially first-time homebuyers) need an advocate and a fiduciary to represent their best interests. This person is called a buyer’s agent or a buyer representative. Although buyers can represent themselves in a real estate transaction, just as a defendant can represent themselves in a court of law, do you really want to take your chances with what is often the largest, single investment you will ever make? If your answer is no because you want the best information, the expertise of a knowledgeable agent and someone who understands the latest laws and best practices, not to mention the best deal, then read on!

Typically, the home seller pays a commission to the listing broker, who then pays a portion of that commission to the selling broker or cooperating broker. The actual listing agent and the selling agent (a.k.a. the buyer’s) agent, are paid directly by their respective brokers. With a few exceptions, no one gets paid until the transaction closes.

In the age of online shopping, sometimes buyers think they can easily find the best home options themselves without the aid of an agent. But often, listing information available to the public is outdated, unavailable or contains misinformation. Realtors, and thus buyer agents, have more reliable resources, and access to the most current home listings and price changes. A seasoned agent will know how to provide information on market trends, statistical changes and the latest impacts on the local economy. Your buyer agent will become an important source to you so that you can make a well-informed buying decision.

A buyer’s agent is someone who is solely in your corner, looking out for your interests. When you sign a Buyer Agent Agreement, he or she will commit to getting you the best possible price and protect your financial information, thus creating a fiduciary relationship.

The agreement between you and your agent ensures everyone knows the expectations of the transaction. Your responsibility to your agent is to work with him or her exclusively. Once you’ve signed an agreement, you shouldn’t call another agent to see a property, even if your heart is in the right place and you are trying to save your agent some time. And never give your personal information out to another agent while you’re working with your agent. Finally, let your agent know very clearly what you’re looking for so he or she can find all the homes that fit your precise criteria.

Once your dream house has been found and you are under contract, your buyer agent will refer you to other professionals you may need such as lenders; inspectors home warranty companies and anyone necessary to assist you in getting the best advice at all times.

The buyer agent will also oversee inspections and repairs, maintain proper communication between all parties and provide you the resources and guidance you need to ensure a smooth, hassle-free experience. From start to finish, your buyer agent will be at your side, until the final questions have been answered and all matters have been resolved at the closing table.

Buying and selling real estate is a cooperative effort and Jacobson Realty and Home Staging has years of experience representing buyers, empowering them to make confident decisions. So protect yourself with professional advice during one of the largest transactions you may ever make in your lifetime. Contact us today.

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VHDA Financing for First-Time Homebuyers: A Well Kept Secret

VHDA Financing for First-Time Homebuyers: A Well Kept Secret

If you’re looking for a home loan in Virginia

If you’re looking for a home loan in Virginia, going through the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) may be a good option. The organization is a not-for-profit that helps mostly first-time homebuyers obtain affordable mortgages. They may even be able to assist you with a down payment on your first home through a grant. Learn more about their financing opportunities and grant programs to see if they might be a good alternative for your home purchase.

VHDA’s Down Payment Assistance Grant

If you’re a first-time homebuyer and you qualify for this program, you may receive a percentage of your new home’s purchase price to help with the down payment. If you qualify, you do not have to pay the money back. When you receive this grant, you are eligible for a Mortgage Credit Certificate, which is a dollar-for-dollar credit against your federal income tax liability. It is important to keep in mind that there is a limited amount of grant money offered each year by the VHDA, so the sooner you contact a lender to determine if you qualify, the greater your chances to receive it!

The maximum grant the VHDA offers is 3 to 3.5 percent of the purchase price required for the eligible VHDA loan. There are income limits which you must not exceed in order to receive this grant. There are also only certain VHDA loan programs which qualify for down payment assistance. To learn more about this program, it’s best to contact a lender.

Education for Homebuyers 

VHDA offers free education to help you understand the kinds of loans that are available. They will walk you through the home buying process from start to finish and show you how to stay on track once you’re in your home. You can take the class in person or online.

Eligibility for VHDA Financing

In order to qualify you must:

· Demonstrate creditworthiness

· Be a first-time homebuyer, which means that you have not had ownership in any residence in the past 3 years, unless you are purchasing in an Area of Economic Opportunity

· Intend to occupy the property (not use it as a rental property)

· Show stable income and funds for your down payment and closing costs

· Complete the VHDA’s course on Homeownership Education

· Meet the sales price limits and income guidelines

· Purchase a home on a lot no larger than 2 acres

Home Loans Offered Through VHDA

There are several different loan programs available through VHDA. All have slightly different criteria, and not all are eligible for down payment assistance, so be sure to check with your lender to see which loan is right for your situation. Here’s an overview of loan programs that are available.

· Conventional fixed – This 30-year, fixed-rate program offers you low fixed monthly payments. Conventional private mortgage insurance allows you to finance up to 97 percent of the sales price.

· FHA – This is another 30-year, fixed-rate program that requires a low down payment and is fairly easy to qualify for. It’s FHA-insured and has liberal credit qualifying.

· VA – This 30-year, fixed-rate program requires no down payment (for eligible Veterans) and offers low fixed monthly payments. It’s VA-guaranteed and has a low, fixed interest rate.

· RHS – A fourth 30-year, fixed-rate program is government insured and offers low, fixed monthly payments. This loan requires no down payment in approved rural areas.

· FHA Plus – This loan program allows you to finance your home 100 percent with two mortgages, one for the FHA-insured first mortgage and the second to fund a down payment and closing costs. Both loans are low 30-year fixed-rate.

Even with great programs, the VHDA is still one of the best kept secrets around. But the secret is out, and now you know you have another option for financing that home you’ve been dreaming of. For more information, visit www.vhda.com. To start searching for your home, contact Jacobson Realty and Home Staging. We’ll help get you set for the next chapter in your life!

Jacobson Realty and Home Staging (JRY) was established by Broker/Owner Belinda Jacobson-Loehle in April 2002. Belinda is a native Washingtonian who grew up in Alexandria, Virginia and has lived and worked in Gainesville, Virginia since 1995. She has been a licensed broker since 1989. 

The JRY mission is to provide professional advice and analysis, maintain clear and consistent communication, and serve clients with respect. The home buying and selling process can be an exciting and stressful experience. Our goal is to make it smooth, educational, enjoyable, quick, and as financially beneficial as possible. 

The desire of JRY is to exceed your expectations to find the home you love or sell the house you have for a deal that is right for you!

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New homebuyer? Here’s what you need to know!

New homebuyer? Here’s what you need to know!

When you are buying a home, especially for the first time,

When you are buying a home, especially for the first time, there are some things you need to keep in mind, not just about the house and property itself, but about the roads, community and more. It’s a lot to keep track of, especially during all the excitement! Staying informed and level headed, though, will help you purchase a home you will be happy in for many years. Use this handy list of do’s and don’ts to help you make a decision on whether or not a home you are considering buying is right for you.

Know the house

· Understand the condition of the property before you buy it. Don’t purchase without a home inspection.

· Consider purchasing a home warranty. Not only can it save you money, it can give you peace of mind.

· When buying a fixer upper or a home that needs updating, estimate your costs before you sign on the dotted line. You want to prevent any overwhelming surprises and budget nightmares.

· If you buy a house with an in-ground basement, be certain to have a professional radon test.

Know the land

· If the land behind you is undeveloped, know who owns it. Don’t assume that it will stay undeveloped.

· Don’t purchase in a flood plain without flood plain insurance, even if it’s a 100-year-old flood plain. You just never know.

· Don’t purchase next to a water tank/tower – you will never be able to landscape high enough to cover the view!

Know the roads

· Know how your roads are maintained – by the county, community or you.

· If your property backs to a road, make sure there is adequate screening, and check sound levels during high traffic times.

· Don’t purchase a house at the top of a “T” intersection – you will always have headlights shining in on your entrance.

· Don’t buy at a stop sign unless you are prepared to watch cars come and go all day long.

Know the neighborhood

· Don’t purchase next to a fire station unless you are prepared to hear sirens at all hours of the night.

· If you purchase near a golf course, don’t purchase in the line of golf ball fire! Know the golf course layout – window replacement is expensive. Golf course lots located at the tee or green are safe and most desirable.

Know the community

· When purchasing in a community with an HOA, know the rules. Review the HOA documents to understand the restrictions before you move in.

· When purchasing in a community without an HOA, examine the community and how it is cared for. What you see if what you get. Your only recourse will be the county rules and regulations if there is an issue.

· When buying a townhouse, check the availability of visitor parking. Is it convenient and plentiful?

· Learn about activities, amenities and events in the community. Will these fit your lifestyle?

· Learn about the schools, public services, crime rates and other aspects of the community that will affect your quality of life.

At Jacobson Realty and Home Staging, we are familiar with the local homes, communities, neighborhoods and area. We are not just Realtors – we are residents. If you would like expert advice on where to purchase your home and how to hone in on the ones that would be perfect for you and your family, contact us. We’d be happy to help.

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3 Good Questions to Ask When Buying Your New Home

3 Good Questions to Ask When Buying Your New Home

When you’re searching for your first home or maybe your dream home
When you’re searching for your first home or maybe your dream home — there’s so much information out there that it can make your head spin. In the information age, there are so many do-it-yourself real estate options, you can spend hours and hours researching homes. But is the information floating around the web accurate? It’s important to ask the right questions or you may end up wandering around cyberspace aimlessly or bouncing from open house to open house with no guidance. Here are a few key questions that can help you in your home search.
How do I find the best realtor to help me purchase my first home or my dream home?
Find an expert in the area you are searching. An area expert will have all the information on the best neighborhoods, school zones, communities with amenities, local shopping, restaurants, attractions and more. Chances are everybody knows a realtor, but family and friends may not be the best choice. Credentials and experience matter, and purchasing a home is a business decision, so don’t feel bad if you don’t go with a friend or family member who might not be the right fit for your transaction.
Can I rely on real estate portals like Zillow, Trulia or Homes.com for information?
While these websites might whet your appetite for house hunting, not all the information shown is accurate. These are syndicated and re-syndicated third-party providers. The information is gathered from the MLS but is not always updated correctly. These websites are in the business of gathering quantities of listings information, not necessarily quality. The information may even be very old. When you’re dealing with old information, the estimates and “zestimates” are often not reliable. It’s great to have access to all this information, but what good is it if you’re showing up to listings that are no longer active? This is where having a local real estate expert comes in handy. Your agent has direct access to the most current local information. Get to your dream house before the balloons on the open house sign are even inflated with up-to-the-minute accurate information from your agent.
Will I find a local expert at open houses?
Yes, but realtors at open houses will be representing the seller. Just like you wouldn’t go to traffic court and ask the prosecutor to defend you, you shouldn’t expect the selling agent to look out for your best interests. The agent showing the open house is required to provide truthful information, but that agent does not represent you and is not vested in getting you the price you need. You really need someone on your side of the table to negotiate a good deal. Being represented byyour own real estate expert is always your best bet.
Jacobson Realty and Home Staging has the latest information on area homes and expert, local realtor familiar with the area. You to see some current listings right now:
After viewing the listings, when you are ready, call (703) 753-0125 or emailBelinda@JacobsonRealty1.com.

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