How to Buy a Home in Northern Virginia; the Step-by-Step Process

Most Important First Step is Selecting a Realtor® 
Whether you’re a first-time home buyer, a move-up purchaser, acquiring an investment property, or relocating across the country to find a home, buying a home is one of the most thrilling events experienced in your lifetime. The process can be a confusing one for some, or simply a re-fresher for others who have bought and sold multiple homes.

Regardless of your experience, I’m here to tell you (and show you) this is not a difficult process. It doesn’t have to be a chore. It doesn’t have to be stressful. Instead, it can and should be an easy, informative process and one that fulfills your desired outcome in a professional and efficient manner. That’s why I believe interviewing and selecting the right real estate agent with the right skill set is by far the most important decision when a buyer begins the buying process. It can be difficult for a buyer to reach their desired outcome at the end of the process if they select the wrong agent at the beginning of the process.

The Step-by-Step Process to Buying a Home
The infographic below is straight out of my Buyer’s Presentation and I’ve found it to be one of my best resources when I dialogue with a client about the buying process. The buying process can be simplified to five functional areas (1) hire an agent, (2) hire a lender, (3) find a home, (4) submit and negotiate an offer, ratify the contract, and (5) complete settlement. However, this of course over-simplifies things and leaves out several crucial tasks and components managed by the agent as more fully described below.

Buying Process

Once a buyer has selected the right real estate agent, one of the first things the agent should do is introduce the buyer to a highly skilled correspondent mortgage lender. This type of lender generally is best positioned to offer the most competitive rates and mortgage loan programs. Equally important, a correspondent lender typically brings the most strength to a buyer’s offer. This is vital when a seller is considering the loan stipulated in the offer contract, or when measuring the content of a buyer’s pre-approval letter and the probability of the lender successfully closing in a reasonable time frame. There is a symbiotic relationship that exists between buyer-agent-lender. All three work together to reach the buyer’s desired outcome.

Practice Makes Perfect – Practice on the Prospects to Perfect the Offer
One of the things I like to do with my buyers is practice the offer as we prospect. I find it helpful to dialogue all the elements that go into a buyer and agent evaluating an offer and I like to do it as we’re actually showing property. By practicing this home-by-home, I find it helps my buyers become ready for action when it’s time to actually write the offer on the home they want.

For example, just like an appraiser would do, we consider the subject home’s market value. What is the list price and condition as compared and contrasted to comparable homes sold, under contract and active for sale? We think about the perceived strength of the list price in the context of current days on market (DOM) and specific absorption rates in the home’s sub-market. We’ll talk about seller price reductions, if any, and the amount and timing of the reductions. We’ll consider whether the home is vacant or not and how this may affect seller motivation. If furnished, we contemplate do the furnishings appear to be the sellers’, or is the home professionally staged? This helps us to understand if the seller is confronted with the significant costs of possibly carrying two mortgages. I’ll even provide my analysis of the Average Sold Price to Average List Price Ratio for the specific neighborhood so that we can understand the price firmness or softness of that particular sub-market. We’ll discuss the condition of the home and what it might mean to the home inspection. We also address condition to understand the extent and cost of possible buyer improvements and the need for a seller subsidy/concessions. All of this data is carefully used to ascertain the market value of the home and the possible degree of seller motivation in terms of an acceptable selling price.

This level of preparation benefits my buyers in two important ways. First, it prepares the buyer by practicing consideration of the chief elements that are important when making an offer. Second, it helps them understand the framework of an offer and how to structure it in such a manner to achieve the highest probability for winning seller acceptance, which is the ultimate goal.

Extraordinary Agents Make the Buying Process Extraordinary
An agent who does the ordinary will yield ordinary results. Extraordinary agents produce extraordinary results and these are the results that most benefit my clients. When I work with my buyer clients, we identify their desired outcome and then everything goes into the process of delivering on that outcome. I treat our teamwork like preparing for the most important competition of my buyer’s life. It’s my job to be the knowledge expert and conduit of information for my client so they can make informed decisions and be positioned with the strongest comparative advantages. Why?  Because another buyer/agent team could want the same home as my buyer. Our team must be the better positioned to win seller acceptance!

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