69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs

The Belt Team sells lots of homes to first-time homebuyers and invariably when we meet for the first time, there are lots of misconceptions about what it takes to buy a home. How much money you need for a down payment is almost always one of them.

Here’s an article from Keeping Current Matters about some of the mythunderstandings:

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

According to a recent survey conducted by Genworth Financial Inc. at the Annual Mortgage Bankers’ Association Secondary Market Conference, mortgage professionals say that first-time buyers still believe a 20% down payment is necessary to buy in today’s market.

Nearly 40% of mortgage industry professionals surveyed believe that a lack of knowledge about the home-buying process is keeping potential buyers on the sidelines. Saving for a down payment is often cited as a huge barrier for first-time homebuyers to make the leap into homeownership.

If homeowners believe that they need a 20% down payment to enter the market, they also believe that they will have to wait years (in some markets) to come up with the necessary funds to buy their dream homes.

The greatest source of confusion cited in the survey results centered around down payments. The results are broken down in the chart below:

69% of Buyers are Wrong About Down Payment Needs | MyKCM

Rohit Gupta, CEO of Genworth Mortgage Insurance had this to say,

“While first-time homebuyers continue to drive the purchase market, we believe many are staying on the sidelines due to the misconception that a 20 percent down payment is required to secure a mortgage.

There are various low down payment options available today that allow prospective homebuyers to reach their dreams of homeownership sooner. It is crucial that, as an industry, we proactively educate eligible borrowers about solutions that will enable them to buy a home when they’re ready.”

Bottom Line

Don’t let a lack of understanding of the home-buying process keep you and your family out of the housing market. Let’s get together to discuss your options! Call The Belt Team at (703) 242-3975.

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Watch Out For Shark Infested Waters in the Real Estate Market

Wondering how the real estate market is faring? Take a look at this snapshot from Keeping Current Matters:

Home Sales November 2015 Real Estate

What’s most important in the infographic is the quote from Lawrence Yun. You see, sales in November 2015 were down from sales in November 2014. In our opinion, the real reason for this is TRID.

TRID (Truth-In-Lending RESPA Integrated Documentation – or as some Realtors call it, “The Reason I Drink”) is a new government regulation that affects people who are buying and selling homes. We won’t go into all the details (and there are a LOT of them), but the bottom line is that TRID is causing increased costs and delays in settlement. We expect that when numbers come out for December, that many of the expected November closings will show up.

That said – TRID is just another reason why it’s SO important for consumers to be represented by Realtors who do this every day and can help their clients navigate what often feel like shark infested waters. Part of what we do is manage all the details of the buying & selling process. We make sure deadlines are met, you are protected, and that you get where you want to go when you want to be there.

We have heard all kinds of horror stories about delayed closings – Buyers with their household belongings on trucks for days, staying in a hotel because their settlement was pushed back due to a TRID delay. Others where their mortgage loan lock-in expired, only  to have to pay hundred or thousands of dollars to extend the rate. Sellers who pack up and move out – but can’t get their money when they need it because the Buyer was held up by TRID.

Terry Belt Realtor The Belt TeamTerry Belt, CEO of The Belt Team says, “You don’t need to know all the ins & outs of TRID, but your Realtor does. Our advice to you – whether buying or selling a home – is to make sure to work with a seasoned real estate team – the best you can find. It’s in your best interests to use their years of experience and their immense resources to your advantage. When problems arise, and with new regulations like TRID it’s not unusual – you need someone with creativity & pull on YOUR side. The more homes a Realtor sells, the more likely they are to be a great problem solver. So ask for details when you’re interviewing your Realtor. (We even have a list of questions you should ask your Realtor!)”

Schedule an appointment with The Belt Team by calling (703) 242-3975.

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The Belt Team is one of the Top 20 Best Real Estate Agents in the State of Virginia (as named by Real Trends) and one of Washingtonian Magazines Best Realtors in 2015. Our mission statement is “Changing Lives For The Better”. If it’s time to change YOURS, call us at (703) 242-3975 TODAY. It’s our pleasure to help you make the RIGHT move.

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Slaying Homebuying Myths

The Belt Team had a very successful first-time homebuyer seminar recently. And what we have found over time is that there are a lot of “mythunderstandings” out there about what it takes to buy a home – whether it’s your first home or your fourth. Here’s a great article from Keeping Current Matters that “slays” those myths!

FACTS:

  1. Interest Rates are still below historic numbers.
  2. 88% of property managers raised their rent in the last 12 months!
  3. Credit score requirements to be approved for a mortgage continue to fall. The 723 average score is the lowest since Ellie Mae began reporting on scores in August 2011.
  4. The average first-time home buyer down payment was 6% in 2015 according to NAR.

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Schedule a FREE Buyer Consultation with Our Lead Buyer Specialist or call (703) 242-3975 for more info.

Beware Commission Breath!

Commission Breath

Last night I had an interesting conversation with a young bartender named Marissa at the restaurant we frequent. She casually commented to me that her mother had told her she should get her real estate license. I responded that I thought it was a great idea. (She’s very intelligent, personable, great at customer service, puts others first and has an amazing work ethic – working two jobs.)

She promptly shriveled her nose in disdain.

I don’t think I would ever want to be a real estate agent!

I had to laugh, being that I’ve been in the real estate business for almost 30 years now. So I asked her what it was that made her think she wouldn’t like real estate. Her response?

I could never be a pushy sales person. I can’t imagine pushing people to buy a house. Like, we’re talking where they LIVE! That’s just not in me.

My response?

That’s exactly why you SHOULD get into real estate.

Marissa’s response is probably not an unusual one. Perhaps you have had that pushy sales person experience yourself. If so – here’s our advice:

Don’t walk, RUN!

We have a saying for agents who operate that way. It’s called “Commission Breath”. If you smell commission breath, then you need to find yourself a new agent. if you feel like your agent is more interested in their commission than they are in your best interests – it’s time for a change. Don’t sign a Listing Agreement or a Buyer Broker Agreement until you are confident you will be well represented. YOUR interests MUST come first!

Our team has been helping clients buy & sell homes for more than 40 years. Over that time we have clients we have worked with over and over – some have even bought & sold more than 10 homes with us. We also have clients who have sent us their children. And their grandchildren. We have a long term view of the world. Our integrity is everything to us. One commission is never more important than one client and their best interests.

In fact, there are lots of times where we advise a client AGAINST buying or selling. When we work with buyers, we point out both the positives and the negatives. And it can be heartbreaking to see a buyer fall in love with a house, only for us to advise that we think it not in their best interests to buy. We’ve also met with Sellers who think they want to sell, and we advise them to wait. (Oftentimes this is the case when someone loses a spouse. Making a decision about selling too soon can be devastating.)

If you smell commission breath, RUN!

The Belt Team’s Mission Statement is “Changing Lives For The Better”. If you’re wondering what it’s like to work with us – check out The Belt Team’s Mission, Vision, Values & Beliefs. And check out our client reviews on independent site Zillow.com. (We have NO control over what is posted there.)

If it’s time to change YOUR life for the better, email The Belt Team or call Terry Belt at (703) 242-3975!

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P.S. If YOU are thinking about getting your real estate license, reach out to us. We are happy to talk to you and our Keller Williams McLean Great Falls office offers top-notch training!

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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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Appraisal Came In Low! Now What?

Northern Virginia housing prices may be rising, but appraised values often lag.

Whether you’re selling a home or buying a home, this can be a problem. It’s not uncommon for a home to sell quickly, sell with multiple competing offers and net a sales price ABOVE list price – only for things to come to a halt because the appraisal comes in low.

Northern VA Real Estate - Low Appraisal

Changes in the Northern Virginia Regional Contract that took effect January 1 could be in your favor though. (You can read about other BIG changes in the contract here.)

One strategy that’s used to battle a low appraisal is to find additional comps the appraiser can use. Oftentimes – that means finding homes that may be under contract, but not yet settled. These homes are likely to have higher sales prices than comps that closed months ago – especially as we head into the hot spring market.

In the past, Realtors were reluctant to release information to appraisers about sales prices until the home had actually settled. But new language in the Northern VA sales contract means this process may become much more common. January 1 changes added a new paragraph called “Disclosure of Sales Price to Appraiser”. The contract now gives authority to brokers to release the sales price of the contract to any appraiser who contacts them to obtain the information.

Although the contract has changed, changes in actual practice often happen slowly because many Realtors are part-time and/or sell very few homes. This means they are not always intimately familiar with the contract and the form changes that happen every six months. This is just another example of why it’s SO important for buyers and sellers to choose Realtors from among the top 10%. The more homes they sell, the better they are at protecting you and avoiding/solving problems such as low appraisals.

(Read more about what happens when your appraisal comes in low.)

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New Strategy For Buyers To Compete In A Low Inventory Housing Market

The Belt Team’s mission is “Changing Lives For The Better” – if it’s time to change YOURS, contact us at (703) 242-3975.

What Is Title Insurance? Do I Really Need It?

If you’re buying a home, you might be wondering whether or not you need title insurance. If you’re getting a mortgage, then your lender will require you to purchase a lender’s title insurance policy; but you also have the option to purchase one for yourself.

But what is title insurance?

We asked one of our favorite title company partners, Double Eagle Title,  to explain.

Gina Clough & Chris Melnick
Founders, Double Eagle Title
(703) 865-2519

Here’s what Chris Melnick said:

_____________________________________________________________________

What is title insurance and why buy title insurance? 

Title insurance is an indemnity contract by which the insurer (title insurance company underwriter) agrees to indemnify the insured( purchaser) against losses covered by the policy.  Title insurance is one premium agreement to indemnify a policyholder, in amounts not to exceed the face value amount of the policy (the contract sales price), for losses caused by either on record and off record defects that are found in the title or interest in and insured property to have existed on the date on which the policy is issued .

Title insurance protects the purchaser of real estate property from issues such as:

1) Errors or omissions in deeds

2) Invalid deeds

3) Mistakes in recording legal documents

4) Mistakes in examining public records

5) Identification fraud

6) Forgery and theft

7) Undisclosed or missing heirs

8) Liens for unpaid taxes

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Over our years in real estate, we have not seen things like this happen very often, but when they have, our clients have been very grateful they bought title insurance. (It’s kind of like health insurance. When you’re young & healthy, it seems like a waste of money to pay for insurance. But if you’ve ever been in an accident or dealt with a catastrophic illness, then you know how important that insurance can be.)

If you have specific questions about settlement costs, title insurance or any of the above situations, contact Chris Melnick with Double Eagle Title. He’s our “go-to resource” for title & settlement questions!

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.

Top 5 Eco-Friendly Features Homebuyers Look For

Whether you’re buying a home or selling a home in Northern Virginia, you may be wondering what the top 5 most sought after eco-friendly home features are. Find out in this 1 minute video!

Contact The Belt Team for more information. If you’re selling now, our top-notch Seller Specialists Terry Belt & Kevin Kleifges can help assess which features may add value or salability to your home. Not ready to sell yet? You may want to update and save some money on utilities in the meantime!

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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!