If you haven’t been paying close attention to the Northern Virginia real estate market recently you might want to consider taking a look. We have had a quiet change from what many were calling a “buyer’s market” to one leaning towards favoring sellers. It isn’t 2004 or 2005 when the local market was the wild but buyers today are running into multiple offers on many properties.
One of the reasons is lower inventory. For example in Fairfax County VA the inventory is down 20.5% over April of last year. This of course means more competition for the homes that are priced right and ready to go. Total sales volume is up 17.34% and the average sale price is up 2.21%.
If you are a buyer in today’s Northern Virginia market you need to plan ahead. The first step is to make sure you have gotten yourself pre-approved for a loan. It isn’t difficult to do and often can be done with major lenders on-line or in one simple meeting. Understanding what you can afford can save you a great deal of heartache and since the market is competitive it may put you one step ahead.
Make sure you have your down payment money ready. If you are first time buyer getting a gift from a parent go ahead and get the money in the bank along with the gift letter for your lender. Look at all of the contingencies in your offer and determine which ones you can tighten up and which ones you can avoid. Though I would never recommend to a client to pass on a home inspection there are ways to make it seem less of a hurdle to a seller by considering qualifying the inspection for major issues only.
Make your earnest money deposit a serious one. Sellers want to know you have some skin in the game. A $500 deposit on a $400,000 house doesn’t say to a seller you are serious. Even if you are getting a 100% VA loan you need to make your deposit one that will catch the sellers attention. Forget what you’ve heard from your friends that all sellers are going to give you 3% of the sales price towards closing costs. In a competitive situation asking for the seller to help you buy the house may not work to your advantage.
Finally make sure your offer is complete. Check and recheck all of the pages and make sure they are filled out. Many offers end up in the shredder because they are poorly written. The seller and the listing agent are interested in having to make multiple corrections in order to get an offer ratified.
House hunting doesn’t have to be frustrating and with a little planning you will be ready to make an offer on the home of your dreams.