Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips!

Starting the Search for Your Dream Home? Here Are 5 Tips! | MyKCM

In today’s real estate market, low inventory dominates the conversation in many areas of the country. It can often be frustrating to be a first-time homebuyer if you aren’t prepared.

In a realtor.com article entitled, “How to Find Your Dream Home—Without Losing Your Mind,” the author highlights some steps that first-time homebuyers can take to help carry their excitement of buying a home throughout the whole process.

1. Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage Before You Start Your Search

One way to show you are serious about buying your dream home is to get pre-qualified or pre-approved for a mortgage before starting your search. Even if you are in a market that is not as competitive, understanding your budget will give you the confidence of knowing whether or not your dream home is within your reach.

This step will also help you narrow your search based on your budget and won’t leave you disappointed if the home you tour, and love, ends up being outside your budget!

2. Know the Difference Between Your ‘Must-Haves’ and ‘Would-Like-To-Haves’

Do you really need that farmhouse sink in the kitchen to be happy with your home choice? Would a two-car garage be a convenience or a necessity? Could the ‘man cave’ of your dreams be a future renovation project instead of a make-or-break right now?

Before you start your search, list all the features of a home you would like and then qualify them as ‘must-haves’‘should-haves’, or ‘absolute-wish list’ items. This will help keep you focused on what’s most important.

3. Research and Choose a Neighborhood You Want to Live In

Every neighborhood has its own charm. Before you commit to a home based solely on the house itself, the article suggests test-driving the area. Make sure that the area meets your needs for “amenities, commute, school district, etc. and then spend a weekend exploring before you commit.”

4. Pick a House Style You Love and Stick to It

Evaluate your family’s needs and settle on a style of home that would best serve those needs. Just because you’ve narrowed your search to a zip code, doesn’t mean that you need to tour every listing in that zip code.

An example from the article says, “if you have several younger kids and don’t want your bedroom on a different level, steer clear of Cape Cod–style homes, which typically feature two or more bedrooms on the upper level and the master on the main.”

5. Document Your Home Visits

Once you start touring homes, the features of each individual home will start to blur together. The article suggests keeping your camera handy to document what you love and don’t love about each property you visit.

Making notes on the listing sheet as you tour the property will also help you remember what the photos mean, or what you were feeling while touring the home.

Bottom Line

In a high-paced, competitive environment, any advantage you can give yourself will help you on your path to buying your dream home. We are here to be part of your support system! Let’s get you setup on a listing alert so you are notified when any potential homes in your price range hit the market.

Call/text us at 703-242-3975 with any questions or email us at info@thebeltteam.com.

Text BELT to 59559 to see the latest listings in your area.

Slaying Home Buying Myths

We get questions from first-time homebuyers like this all the time:

  • Do I have to have a perfect credit score?
  • Do I need 20% cash for my down payment?
  • Aren’t interest rates really high?
  • Can I really afford to buy?

Check out what Keeping Current Matters has to say about the myths related to buying a home:

Slaying Home Buying Myths [INFOGRAPHIC] | MyKCM

Some Highlights:

  • Interest rates are still below historic numbers.
  • 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  • The credit score requirements for mortgage approval continue to fall.

The Belt Team has a Buyer Specialist whose expertise is First-Time Homebuyers. If you’re looking for someone to walk you through each step of the process, call Beth Dadisman at (703) 577-1144. Or click here to schedule a FREE consultation.

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Here’s how you might feel after you buy your first place! We helped these first time homebuyers find their dream home and go to settlement just last week! The Belt Team is ranked in the Top 20 Real Estate Agents in the State of VA (out of 30,000 agents). Don’t you deserve the BEST?!

The Belt Team Specializes in First Time Homebuyers

Mortgage Minute for HomeBuyers: “What’s A Qualified Mortgage?”

New mortgage guidlelines

If you’re buying a home in Northern Virginia, you may have heard talk of new mortgage guidelines & regulations, but aren’t sure what that means for you. So we asked our Partner Paul Diaz, Senior Loan Officer with New Penn Financial, to explain.

Northern VA Mortgage Financing
Paul Diaz

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What Is A “Qualified Mortgage”?

Lenders that follow underwriting guidelines and product guidelines exactly when they write a loan will be considered to be making a ‘qualified mortgage”. “Qualified mortgages” will provide lenders and borrowers certain legal protections in the event the borrower should default.

Lenders will more than likely still write mortgage loans that are not considered to be qualified mortgages, but because they will lose some protection should the borrower default on a mortgage loan, most other lenders might just stick to the new definition and stay within the guidelines. This may mean less flexibility in the marketplace for some buyers.

Parameters for a qualified mortgage are as follows:

  • Have a loan term of 30 years or less.
  • Not have negative amortization (monthly payment must cover all the interest due).
  • Not be an “interest only” loan.
  • Not be a “balloon payment” loan where a large lump sum of the principal is due back at one time (exception made for small lenders).
  • Upfront points and fees must not exceed 3 percent of the total loan amount. Note: This cap on points and fees may make lenders less likely to offer smaller loans (less than $100,000).
  • Debt-to-income ratio may not exceed 43 percent. *Note: This can be superseded if the loan is originated and kept in portfolio by a qualified small lender, or if the loan is approved by FHA, VA, USDA, RHS, Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. But it may become harder for people with higher debt loads to get approved for a new home if they cannot stay below the 43 percent debt-to-income ratio.

This last guideline is likely to affect many Buyers in Northern Virginia.

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If you’re wondering how much of a mortgage you can qualify for, contact our partner Paul Diaz at New Penn Financial. He can help you analyze the loan product that works best for your needs and help you get pre-approved for a mortgage. This gives you the power of a CASH buyer!

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New Strategy Helps Homebuyers Compete in Low Inventory Markets

If you’re trying to buy a home in Northern Virginia, you’re well aware that inventory in many areas is just about as low as we’ve ever seen. And it’s been that way all year.

Some buyers & agents are walking around wringing their hands about how their buyers just can’t compete. Or how they lost out on that perfect home because it sold before they even knew it was on the market.

Instead, we like to think outside the box (just look at our car!) And so this year, we searched high & low for what we call our secret weapon – and we implemented the Showing Partner Model.

Northern VA Real Estate Marketing       The Belt Team Buyer Model

The concept is based on a study that was discussed at length in the book “Outliers” by Malcolm Gladwell. Basically, the idea is that mastery of a skill to the point of greatness (whether that’s art, athletics, public speaking, music or negotiation) comes with 10,000 hours spent practicing & developing the skill. We decided to apply that study to our business (because our buyers & sellers deserve GREAT, not just good.)

Here’s how the Showing Partner Model works.

Our Lead Buyer Specialist (Tom Reilly) and our Showing Partner (Beth Dadisman) work in tandem. Instead of the traditional model where one agent does everything (or two agents work together to “cover” for one another), our buyers have two agents each working at their specialty – and both working directly with the buyer. That way – each one is twice as good at their particular area of expertise because they hone that skill twice as often. (We do the same thing for our Sellers – with a Listing Specialist and Client Care Manager.)

STEP 1: CONSULTATION

Buyers meet with both Tom & Beth for an initial consultation (no cost, no obligation). You discuss:

  • What you are looking for IN DETAIL
  • Why you are moving
  • Timeframe needed
  • General market overview
  • Market analysis of your target area
  • Financing/costs/loan pre-approval
  • Strategy

STEP 2: LOOK AT HOMES

Beth Dadisman Realtor The Belt Team
Beth Dadisman
Showing Partner

Beth specializes in knowing the market, showing houses and identifying exactly the right home for our buyers. Because that’s all she does (she does not write contracts, negotiate, etc) – she is SO much more knowledgeable than the average agent. She’s like a hawk stalking the market, swooping in for the kill. (That sounds a bit harsh and she’s really a sweet person, but she looks out for her buyers big time!) And she saves them tons of time because she doesn’t show properties that are not a good fit for the criteria they have identified. (We also have a state-of-the-art home search website that our buyers use. It’s faster and more up-to-date than others, so they see new listings first & don’t miss out!)

STEP 3: NEGOTIATION OF CONTRACT

Tom Reilly Buyer Specialist Northern VA Real Estate
Tom Reilly
Lead Buyer Specialist

Tom, who not only is a top-notch, experienced Realtor, also has a legal and technology background. His role is Master Negotiator. When you find that “perfect” home, he moves fast & furious to get the wheels turning. Tom also provides a second set of eyes and an objective perspective on the property you have identified – making sure you are aware of such things as potential resale challenges – so that you are well informed when making an offer.

RESULTS

With inventory so low, the Showing Partner Model is a HUGE advantage. Some buyers have to wait around until their agent has time to show them homes (we had one client whose previous Realtor would only show homes after 6PM!). But between Tom & Beth (and the rest of our team) – our buyers get almost 24/7 coverage. The same thing happens when it’s time to write a contract. Some buyers finish looking at the house and then have to wait for their agent to drive back to their office, draw up the contract and send them the paperwork. In our case, Beth is so skilled at knowing the market and knowing her buyers, that she often has already told Tom which home she thinks the buyers will love. And Tom has already talked to the listing agent and gotten the paperwork rolling.

Here’s how recent buyer Mike Taphorn described it: “Beth from the Belt Team helped us find the home that we were looking for. We were indecisive about whether to stay in Fairfax County or move to Prince William County, and Beth patiently showed us homes in both Gainesville and Clifton/Centreville areas until we found the home we were looking for. And Beth was the one who found, and helped us jump on this listing before it drew too much competition.  Beth’s partner Tom also played a key role in negotiating the sales contract and contingencies until we reached settlement.

Happy Belt Team Buyers -Taphorn

One of our favorite buyer success stories from the Showing Partner Model came earlier this year when we identified what we thought would be a dream home for our buyers the Pogors. We showed the property & the buyers fell in love. But it was Friday and an open house was scheduled for Sunday. Tom not only got the contract executed & presented so well & so fast, but also convinced the Seller to respond and ratify the contract and cancel the open house (which was a HUGE relief to our buyers since it likely would have resulted in competing contracts and a higher sales price IF they even got the home.)

Happy Belt Team Buyers - Iulina and Tatiana Pogor-Oct 2013

If you’re ready to buy a home in Northern Virginia – contact The Belt Team’s very own Dynamic Duo – Tom Reilly & Beth Dadisman TODAY to schedule your FREE consultation.

Unusual Mortgage Financing May Help You!

Box with Bow

Mortgage underwriters (the people who actually “approve” your loan when you’re buying a house or refinancing) like to think that everyone fits into a little square box with a nice big ribbon on top. But homebuyers are not all the same.

If you have a situation that may be a bit outside the box, don’t worry. We have a wonderful resource for portfolio loans in Northern Virginia! (Portfolio loans are loans that are held by the lender, rather than being sold on the secondary market. As a result, the lender can often be more flexible in their underwriting guidelines.)

Here are some examples where our lender partner may be able to help you:

Check MarkYOU’RE SELF-EMPLOYED– but have been self-employed for less than the standard 2 year requirement. Our lender can work with just 1 year of self-employed or commission income..

Check Mark YOU’RE A FOREIGN NATIONAL

Check MarkYOU’RE FINANCING A LUXURY HOME and only want to make a 15-20% down payment. Our lender can do 85% LTV to $1 million and 80% LTV to $1.5 million  (owner occupied.)

Northern VA Mortgage FinancingThere are lots of other ways our lender can help. If you don’t fit inside that neatly wrapped borrower gift box, and you want to buy or refinance a home in Northern VA – don’t give up! Reach out to our lender, Paul Diaz with New Penn Financial. There’s a good chance he can help!

Home Buyers – Is There A Difference Between Getting Pre-Qualified & Pre-Approved?

If you’re thinking about buying a home at some point, you may be interested to know that there IS a BIG difference between getting pre-qualified for a loan and getting pre-approved for a loan. Find out more in this one minute update from “This Month In Real Estate”:

The Belt Team has trusted relationships with lenders who are competitive & can be counted upon to do what they say they’re going to do. (That’s not always the case!) If you would like to get pre-approved for a loan, contact The Belt Team and we’ll put you in touch.

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