Home Buying in 22203>Question Details

Katie, Home Buyer in Nova, OH

How long should I leave to look for a new home?

Asked by Katie, Nova, OH Sat Jan 3, 2009

I'm going to be buying my first home this summer. My lease expires the end of June; when should I start looking? Is now too early? I know each situation is different, but I'm worried I'll find a place too soon or be stuck going lease-to-lease because I couldn't find anything. I'd consider buying a short sale property; should I start looking at them earlier? I'm looking for a townhouse/condo in the Arlington area.

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We suggest that you get started with the process now by beginning to collect information about financing and getting pre-approved for a loan. Consider looking a foreclosures where you can find significant savings and an easier transaction than a short sale.

The key to finding the right place for you is allowing enough time to do a thorough search. Once you have found the right home you can work toward a closing date that meets your personal needs. A real estate professional can assist you with this and other matters along the way.

Our advice.....get started today.

Good luck
1 vote Thank Flag Link Fri Jan 9, 2009
It never hurts to look. It doesn't mean you have to buy something right away but it can start giving you an idea of what is available in various price ranges. Some short sales can take much longer than 30 days. If there is more than one loan on the property it can take months before you receive an approval (or rejection) of your offer. There are fewer short sales in Arlington than in other communities but we certainly have some here. Short sales can be time consuming and frustrating so if you can find a property that's a good deal without a short sale situation, it will certainly be easier for you.

The only downside to looking early is that you may find a home you really love. You may want to chat with your landlord about subletting or if they would let you out of your lease early if they are able to find another renter to replace you. It doesn't hurt to ask. Depending on the sellers circumstances you may be able to get a settlement date that's pretty far out. You'll want to check with your lender about the possibility of locking in an interest rate on a property that won't be closing for awhile.

Interest rates are phenomenal now and there are many properties available. Although no one is expecting any significant increases in prices, the new administration, the stimulus package and spring will certainly bring more buyers out.

Good luck. Jane Jensen
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 4, 2009
Katie - At this point in time, you should concentrate on looking at neighborhoods or specific condo developments so that you can better define what works for your lifestyle and purchasing power. Think about how you live your life: Do you need to be walkable to a Metro station? Do you want to be in the middle of the nightlife or do you prefer something a little quieter? Is the proximity to a dog park or other community amenity important to you?

Once that you have gone through this exercise, it should be easier for you to narrow down the areas that you want to pursue for individual listings via open houses or preferably with a properties provided by your Buyer Agent. Now should a short sale/REO listing arise in an area that you have identified then I would probably add an extra 30-45 days to the timeline to account for the delay that most (but not all) of these properties will include.

Given that you are looking in Northern Virginia, I would recommend that you deal with a direct lender over a mortgage broker, though other agents may differ on this particular point. The regional contract for this area states that if your lender doesn't have the paperwork and funds to the settlement company by the settlement date, your Earnest Money Deposit is at risk. Direct lenders are writing the loan with their own money versus brokering it out to an investor, which involves additional layers and potential time delays.

Please feel free to contact us with any additional questions that you may have,

AJ Heidmann, CRS, ABR, e-PRO
Cell 703-474-1260 Office 703-518-8300
310 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314
Licensed in Virginia
1 vote Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 3, 2009
Hi Katie!! Happy New Year!!
It depends on what your parameters are. If you have a limited budget and looking in a higher priced area it may take a while to find what you want. The best thing to do is to establish a relationship with a REALTOR and let him/her start working with you at least 90 days ahead of time to start looking for you a property that meets your needs. If what you are looking for is more "main stream" then you need less time since inventory levels are high right now. Once we know exactly what you want and what your price range is we can help you. That is what a good REALTOR is here for. If you haven't talked to a Lender to get pre-qualified and to determine exactly how much you want to spend per month on a mortgage, taxes, insurance, condo fees, utilities, then that is the first place to start. We will need to know what price range you want to buy in, etc.
All of the main real estate brokerage firms have lenders they work with and you can do pre-qualification through their web sites, OR you can visit specific banks or credit unions. I always advise to work with someone local who can be there for you through closing. Credit Unions have good rates, but often times they charge "funding fees" which can be high. If you have a down payment then BOFA has a pretty good program. Shop around, but right now loans are very, very good and so are home prices. Don't hesitate to get going now to find a home.

Let me know if I can help.

Delaine Campbell, MBA, REALTOR
Certified Residential Specialist
Long and Foster Realtors Historic Old Town Alexandria
(703) 518-8740
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Jan 4, 2009
Suggestion if your lease does not expire till June start serious search mid April it takes approx. 30 days after all documents executed purchase close. You would need to be pre-approved by mortgage broker purchase a home these qualifications statements are valid for approx. 60 days - or +.

Never purchase a home DIRECT from bank/builder/seller / listing agent unless you have your own realtor. Start looking in all different areas, tour open houses, understand exactly what you are looking for when you are working buyers agent easier locate your next home.
Web Reference: http://www.lynn911.com
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 3, 2009
If you're looking at a short sale, then you should know that the process can be a long one. Banks can easily go 30 days before saying yes or no to your initial offer - and some can take longer.
Of course, should you find your dream house and it isn't a short sale, you can still write up a contract with a June closing date - though 60 days is typical, it doesn't have to be the only length of contract offered.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Jan 3, 2009
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