Home-buyers’ Guide to the Home-Buying Process

Home-buyers’ Guide to the Home-Buying Process

Every home-buyer needs a home-buyers’ guide to the home-buying process. Home-buying can be confusing, even for those who have bought in the past. There is a process, and if you follow the process, it can be easy, and you can actually have fun buying your next home.

Home-buying process: Pick a Realtor

The first step in the home-buying process is to find a good Realtor, and let me Home-buyers' Guide to the Home-Buying Processemphasize this, find ONE Realtor. It is not unusual to have a home-buyer call our office to ask if we can show a property. The first thing I ask is, “Are you working with an agent?” Almost every time, the buyer will say, “No,” and then he/she will tell me the appointment needs to be at a certain time because he/she has three showings prior to mine.

If a buyer is looking at three houses prior to looking at one with our office, that tells me there are other agents involved. What buyers may not understand is that real estate agents get paid when they sell and close a home purchase. They don’t get paid to open doors. If a buyer is running three or four Realtors around, most of them will not get paid even though they will spend money and miss other opportunities while helping the client.

Buyers, interview agents prior to choosing one. Find one that will be a good match for your personality, time-frame and is attentive to your needs. Don’t call a dozen offices and drag a dozen agents out into the field. You are legitimately wasting their time and resources when you do that. I’m sure buyers would not want others wasting their time and costing them money with no hope of compensation. It’s not just a courtesy, it’s the right thing to do. If you want an agent to put you first in the home-buying process, be loyal to them and let them do their job to help you.

Home-buying process: Listen to your Realtor

I’ll have to admit, with the advent of the Internet, buyers can be more advanced today than a few decades ago. They can search for homes, financing and learn the how-to’s of home-buying before they ever call an agent.

Even with the benefit of these Internet resources, there is no reason to ignore your agent’s advice. An experienced agent can be your best resource for finding the right home. Your agent is going to do a few things right upfront in the relationship.

One, they are going to ask you to sign an agency agreement. That agreement allows the agent to share things with you that he/she couldn’t do prior to the agreement. It makes the agent your advocate in all things related to your purchase. They’re no longer working for a seller at that point (as long as they are not the listing agent). They are your agent, your advocate and your confidant. That agreement allows them to put your best interest first.

The second thing they are going to ask is that you get pre-approved for a loan. There is no sense in looking at homes if you don’t know what you can spend. That pre-approval letter from a lender is your ticket to buy a home. You need it, and you need it before you start looking at houses. Please don’t assume the agent is prying into your personal affairs when they ask you to get pre-approved prior to looking at homes. This is how the home-buying process works.

Home-buyers' Guide to the Home-Buying ProcessThe third thing they are going to do is help you refine what it is that you want to buy. You need to have a wants, needs and desires list for a home purchase. You may want five bedrooms, three baths on five acres, but your budget may be more like three bedrooms and two baths on a quarter acre. An experienced agent will know that and can steer you in the right direction.

Your agent will know how far your resources will go when buying a home. In this same process, you will narrow down what type of house you buy. You may hate split-foyers, but you love ranchers. That’s good to know right away because there is no sense in an agent setting up an automatic search for you that includes houses you will never look at.

As a part of the wants, needs and desires list, there may be things that get eliminated in the search. Your budget may not allow for a two car garage. That might be a desire and not a need. The budget may not allow for a basement. Here again, that might be a desire and not a need.

You may want a house that has gas heat. That is doable, but it will cut houses that meet your criteria that do not have gas heat. No problem if you understand that. There is always give and take in a home search. Sometimes, you can find a house that has everything on your list, but that is not guaranteed 100% of the time, and that is not the fault of your agent. It is just a fact of life. Of course, you can always build a new home and it can have everything on your list if you can afford it.

Home-buying process: Pick your level of communication

In our 24 hour news cycle and instant gratification society, communication has changed. Unless you turn all of your electronics off at some point everyday, people can get a hold of you. Your phone will be buzzing, your computer will be notifying you that an email awaits or a text continues to ding until you respond.

Not everyone wants to be that connected, but some do. When you find your Realtor, let him/her know how much communication you want and what kind works best for you. My clients span the spectrum of communication. I have many who want texts as soon as something happens, others are good with an email sometime during the day and a few that want a cellphone call. Let your agent know what works for you. They’ll appreciate it and you’ll get the communication you want.

Once you’ve worked your way through these three early stages of the home-buying process, you’re on your way to a great adventure. When you are ready to pick your Realtor, give us a call at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc. We are you neighborhood real estate sales pros.


Buyers, the cold months are a great time to buy a home at a discount.

Buyers, the cold months are a great time to buy a home at a discount.

Often, home sellers are told to wait until Spring to list their homes, and there may be Buyers, the cold months are a great time to buy a home at a discount.some truth to that, but for buyers, the best time to get the best home purchase discount is in the colder months. Do people really buy in the cold months? Yes they do. Actually, the cold months are a great time to buy.

The cold months are a great time to buy.

In one neighborhood in the Stephens City, VA real estate market, the biggest sale months are February, April, January, March, June and October. Canter Estates saw the highest volume of sales in these months. Think about that for a minute. February, January, March and October are colder and darker months, and yet, they produced the most sales. Should you wait until Spring to list, you can, but you can also sell in the darker and colder months with confidence.

The cold months are a great time to get the best home purchase discount.

Sellers need to be wise during those colder months because the biggest discounts are found in January, February, March and April. A Realty Trac study found that February is the biggest discount month with a discount of up to 6.1% below the asking price. January had a 5.6% discount, March was 3.6% and April 1.8%. For buyers, that’s a great thing to know. The colder months, which are often ignored by many agents are really great buying opportunities for buyers.

In another Realty Trac study, researchers found that the best day of the week to get a discount is Monday followed by Friday. For buyers, there is a science to home-buying. The best day to buy a home varies by market, but every market has its sweet spot for buyers. The Realy Trac research does offer some insight into those ideal buying spots to help buyers get the best deal.

When you’re ready to buy or sell your Winchester to Northern Virginia home, give me a call at Cornerstone Home Sales. I am your neighborhood real estate sales pro.

4 Things every home-buyer should know before buying a home.

There are a number of things every home-buyer should know before buying a home. There is no sense getting excited over a home purchase without covering all of your bases first. So, let’s get started.

Home-buyer rule 1

Every home-buyer needs to know what they can spend before contacting a Realtor. That means, drop by a lenders office first. I just had a buyer find a house, put an offer in, give an EMD and do a home inspection. Then, I received a note from the lender who had given me a pre-qualification letter 45 days earlier, telling me the buyer wasn’t actually qualified.

Buyers, check your own credit. Go to a reputable lender and have them qualify you. Better yet, get them to pre-approve you. In my case, the lender’s incompetence allowed this buyer to go way too far into the process before realizing the mistake. It cost the buyers money, the Realtor time and money and the sellers time off the market. Check and double-check.

Home-buyer rule 2

Don’t change your credit report in any way other than positive ways. Once you start the home-buying process, stop using credit. Pay your bills on time and don’t add any more debt. Don’t open up any new credit accounts, don’t buy new furniture for your new house, don’t buy a car and don’t take time off of work before closing. Freeze in place. You want your credit report to look better just before closing, and your lender will pull your credit right before closing.

Home-buyer rule 3

Make sure you hire a Realtor who can make things happen. I just had an agent who was too green to be out on her own. She sent an offer to purchase agreement 6 times in 5 days before she got one right. She also missed that they property was being sold “as-is” in the listing. Her clients had a home inspection, which is perfectly fine, but there is a better than average change the seller isn’t going to do anything. When she submitted her 3 pages of repair requests, I had to reminder her that the house was being sold as-is. She was dumbfounded.

Her home-buyer spent money for the report, and again, it’s fine to do them for information purposes when a home is listed as-is, but there is no sense in asking the seller to fix things when he has already made it public knowledge that he will not. Pick someone with a proven track record and negotiation skills. This agent had neither, and it costs her clients money, the home and the seller time off the market.

Home-buyer rule 4

Use the Internet to find your dream home before calling your agent. No agent in any community knows every home in the community. You can glean much information on the Internet before calling your agent. Drive by the properties that interest you and once you’ve settled on an area, home style and price range, then have your Realtor confirm the status of the homes and go shopping. Your agent can set up an automatic update for you that will add to your own efforts. Spend the majority of your time looking at homes online before looking at them in person. You can cut a lot of homes that aren’t right for you this way.

When you’re ready to make the leap into home-ownership, give Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., a call. We are your neighborhood real estate sales pros.

Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report – 2018

Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report – 2018

The Loudoun County, VA mid-year real estate sales report shows a steady and healthy market moving into the second half of 2018. All of the numbers that should be up are up and the numbers that should be down are down. That is good news for Loudoun County, VA home-owners. There is one area that might cause limited concern for the market, but it really is small.

Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report: The Market Slowdown

Real estate in the United States saw a slowdown in homes sales over the first six Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report - 2018months of 2018. Forbes magazine and the National Association of Realtors both predicted a soft real estate market through the Spring of 2018. An average of 40% of all homes sold take place from March through June of each year. The Winter months do tend to see fewer home sales, traditionally. March saw a 56% increase in home sales from February 2018, and the numbers have gone up consistently since then.

The numbers are seasonably adjusted as the months go from cold and dark days of Winter to the warmer and lighter days of Spring through early Fall. January 2018 had 338 homes sales in Loudoun County, but that number jumped to 850 in June. That is a 151% increase over the first six months. Ironically, the number of sales are down 2.5% (3614 / 2017 – 3525 / 2018) from the same period in 2017. That’s a nominal change, and at this point in the year, it is nothing to worry about.

Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report: Increased Average Sales Price

The average sales price for a single family home increased from $509,435 in 2017 to $527,148 in 2018. That is a 3.5% improvement in average sales price year to year. Again, that’s good news for home-owners who have waited to sell.

The numbers have been consistent in their upward growth pattern, but two of the first six months did see a pullback in average sales price. Both February and May had lower than average monthly sales prices, and they were lower than where the market started in January 2018 which was an average sales price of $523,633.

Multiple things contribute to lower prices and lower volume sales. Interest rate increases may cause some buyers to step back before they choose to enter the real estate market. The new tax law could easily have contributed to the 2018 lower sales volume. The uncertainty of the new tax law effect on home-buyers could easily have persuaded some home-buyers to take a “wait and see” approach to a home purchase. And, of course home affordability is always a factor in any housing market.

Loudoun County, VA Mid-Year Real Estate Report: More Good Numbers

Two other numbers that can help paint a picture of a real estate market’s health are distressed properties and days on the market. The number of distressed sales in the Loudoun County, VA mid-year real estate market were 74. That was 2% of the total sales for the first six months. That is also a 2% drop in short sales and foreclosures year to year.

Another number that can signal a market’s health is the average days on the market. It is a number that may be deceiving because there are many factors that affect it. If a home is overpriced it will sit on the market longer. If it is in poor condition it can affect the amount of time it takes to sell it. Also, if it is in an undesirable area of a community it can stay on the market longer, but DOM can give some insight into how a market is moving.

The average days on the market for Loudoun County was 35. That is an excellent look into how fast the market is moving. The average for the first six months of 2017 was 39. The market has a consistent pattern of rapidly moving home sales. One contributor to the speed at which homes go under contract is availability. The fewer homes available, the faster they will sell. Loudoun County now has 1165 active listings on the market. There are also 31 “Coming Soon” listings and 931 homes that are pending a closing.

Overall, the Loudoun County, VA real estate market is healthy, strong and moving fast. It has followed a consistent pattern year to year and it is meeting all the common milestones as it progresses through the year. Home values are high and growing, distressed properties are low and declining and homes that are ready to sell – sell quickly. What’s not to love about those market conditions.

When you’re ready to buy or sell in the Loudoun County, VA real estate market, give Mike Cooper a call. Mike is your local real estate sales pro, and he makes things happen everyday.