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.

Red Fox Run, Winchester, VA – 2018 Real Estate Market Review

Red Fox Run, Winchester, VA – 2018 Real Estate Market Review

Red Fox Run in Winchester, VA had a solid year in real estate for 2018. The Frederick County, VA real estate market saw an increase in homes sales by 1.8%. That seems low, but in comparison to the national average, it’s an improvement.

Nationwide, the number of home sales actually declined in 2018 -4.3%. Red Fox Run also saw a decline in the number of homes sold in 2018 from the previous year but in a micro-economics view, that can mean something, or it can mean nothing.

The fact that fewer homes sold in Red Fox Run may simply mean that fewer peopleRed Fox Run, Winchester, VA - 2018 Real Estate Market Review sold their homes on purpose. According to a Gallup survey, “one in four Americans move every 5 years.” That number equates to about 11 moves in a lifetime. That’s a huge number, but the US society has become much more mobile than a few decades ago. People move for jobs, to be close to family, to retire or start a new business, to attend college or for a host of reasons.

According to 2018 statistics, only 7 homeowners moved from Red Fox Run. It’s a highly desirable neighborhood in a great place. There are plenty of reasons to stay in the neighborhood. It’s on the south-eastern side of Winchester, VA. Mall shopping, grocery shopping, auto or just about anything else you need to shop for is less than 5 minutes away in multiple directions. Five major highways are just as close.

Red Fox Run, Winchester, VA: Property Sales Value Increase

Red Fox Run is like most neighborhoods in the Winchester-Frederick County, VA real estate market. It saw challenges from foreclosures and short sales during the 2008-2013 recession, but it has continually improved in the years since. In the 2018, there wasn’t a single short sale or foreclosure reported.

Price appreciation is also showing good numbers. From the 2014 to 2018, home sale prices rose 15%. From 2017 to 2018, the market had an increase of 4.7% in home sale prices. Only one time since 2013 have values declined. In 2016, home sale prices dropped -2%, but the next year they increased 7.8%, and there has been a steady increase year to year for most of the past five years.

Another interesting statistic in Red Fox Run is the percentage of list price to sold price. Homes in Red Fox Run typically sell for near list price. The average home sold for 99.19 % of the list price in 2018. That may say a lot about how homes were priced at the time they were listed, but it may also say a lot about how much buyers are willing to pay to purchase in the neighborhood.

The 2018 days on the market were down to 42 from 82 the year before. The Winchester, VA real estate market shifted toward buyers in 2018, allowing homes to sit on the market a little longer because sellers weren’t ready to negotiate away their former market dominance. But, at the end of the year sellers still controlled the market in Red Fox Run.

Overall, Red Fox Run has a healthy year-end report. It offers, spacious homes, a variety of home styles on comfortable lots and lower traffic. It is not a pass-through to another area. For families with children, there are two elementary and one middle school within a mile. A new high school is planned to be built-in the area as Admiral Byrd Middle School and Evendale Elementary School. That means a child can start and finish school within walking distance of the neighborhood.

Red Fox Run, Winchester, VA is a highly desirable neighborhood with a lot of benefits. When you’re ready to buy, or ready to sell in the neighborhood, give me a call at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., I am your neighborhood real estate sales pro.

This post was originally posted at www.cornerstonehomesales.com: Red Fox Run, Winchester, VA – 2018 Real Estate Market Review


Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA – Real Estate Year in Review – 2018

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA – Real Estate Year in Review – 2018

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA had a very good real estate year in 2018. The highly Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA - Real Estate Year in Review - 2018desirable community of homes had a 6.6% sales rate for the 2018 market year. The number of 2018 sales were a 16% increase over 2017. Ironically, 2018 was a -15% over 2016.

As the local markets began to heal from the 2008 recession, the percentage of change was all over the map. The 2018 market sales were 93% higher than 2015, but they were even higher over 2014. The percentage change over 2014 was 107%. That’s a pretty good sign of where the market was, and where it is today.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA: 2018 Sales by the Month.

I’m asked every year, “When is the best time to list my home.” My answer is basically, when you’re ready. Buyers buy all year-long. Let me show you what I mean. In Canter Estates, home sales have been consistent throughout the year.

As a matter of fact, home sale have done better in most cooler to cold months than in Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA - Real Estate Year in Review - 2018the warmer to hot months. Of the 29 sales, January, February, March and October made up 13 sales. That means 45% of total sales took place in the cooler to cold months. That blows a hole in the “list in the Spring because that is the best time to sell” theory. To be fair, April was also a very good month with 4 sales. If you add April to our list, those five months made up 59% of total sales. The warm months made up 38% of total sales for 2018.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA: Distressed Sales

Distressed sales still managed to show up in Canter Estates in 2018, but they were minor in comparison to the dog days of the recession. They did manage to be 6.9% of total sales. That number sounds huge until you learn that it was 2 out of 29 sales. That number does not show a trend or offer any form of caution about the future in Canter Estates.

Canter Estates, Stephens City, VA: Average Sales Price

The average home sale price in Canter Estates was $353,921. That was for a four bedroom – 3 bath (2.5 in most cases) home. For those considering a sale in the near to immediate future, that equates to $139.25 per square foot of value in your home. That number can help you learn what your home may sell for.

The average days on the market for a Canter Estates home was 60 days. Days on the market is an outlier number for most market updates. It can mean something, and it can mean absolutely nothing. There are so many factors that cause days on the market to be high or low that it is hard to use it as a precursor to a sale price.

A home can be priced to high, and it lingers on the market. A house can be in a less desirable place, and the days can add. A neighbor may have a barking dog that keeps a home in the market. A section of a street may have a high volume of teenagers who shoot basketball at all hours of the day and night. There are so many things that can influence days on the market that it is hard to use it when making an offer on a home.

The best advice for listing a home is to price it right, make sure it’s in great condition, keep it ready to show all the time, and trust the agent you hired to sell it. When you’re ready to sell your Canter Estates home, call me at Cornerstone Business Group, Inc., and I’ll put my decades of experience, my technological skills and my market understanding to work for you. Let’s have a great 2019 in Canter Estates.