Buyer Frequently Asked Questions
How much home can I afford to buy?
How much you can buy is unique to you. The best way to find out is to call a mortgage lender. With today’s low interest rates, you may be pleasantly surprised to find you can afford more home than you thought!
Does it matter who I use to get a mortgage loan?
The choice is yours, but who you use for your mortgage loan, and the type of loan you use, can affect how well your contract will compete against other offers. An established local lender with a good reputation for completing financing on time will add credibility and strength to your offer. Having a lender who is available to answer your questions and supply needed documents after hours and on weekends is essential.
How long does the process take once I find the home I want?
Most settlements occur within 30 to 45 days of the date the contract is ratified. A cash offer can close in a matter of days. If you need more time, or less, discuss this with your agent as soon as possible.
What does “ratified” mean?
A contract is “ratified” when it is fully signed and initialed by both sides – buyer and seller – meaning that a full agreement on all terms has been reached. Ratification day is the date when the clock starts ticking down towards settlement. Every contingency built into the contract has a fixed day on when it will expire – it’s important that you work closely with your agent and lender to complete your obligations on time.
What if I need to sell my home too?
This happens all the time, but can create a very tricky situation. Many sellers will not accept your contract to purchase their home if you still have a house to sell. However, a well-crafted strategy can usually work around this difficulty. We are experts at working with people in exactly the same position and in most cases are able to time the sale of your home so that buying a new one works out just fine. And we’ll help you form a back-up plan, just in case!
What happens at Settlement and what does the Title Company do?
Buyer and Seller meet at settlement to sign all the papers, transferring ownership from one person to another. As buyer you may also sign a note promising to pay your mortgage lender. You’ll sign a LOT of papers and the Title Attorney will gladly explain each one to you. Prior to settlement, the Title Company and their attorney do research to ensure you will be getting a clear and clean title to the property – no other liens or owners exist that could take away your full rights of ownership. They also verify costs and expenses, prepare documents, and file the record of sale at the courthouse. They make sure any existing loans are paid off so you have “free and clear” title to the home.
What is Escrow, or the Earnest Money Deposit?
The “escrow check” or “earnest money deposit” is the amount of money you are willing to post up-front to show the seller you are serious, “earnest,” about buying their home. It’s money you put “at risk” as a promise to uphold your end of the deal. If you fail to uphold your end, and are in breach of contract, you may forfeit this money to the seller. It’s your agent’s job to advise you and help protect you so that this does not happen.
What if I need to cancel the contract after it’s ratified?
There are certain escape clauses written into most contracts. These are called “contingencies.” Each of these escape clauses, such as the home inspection contingency, the review of HOA or Condo document contingency, or the appraisal and financing contingency, will give you an opportunity to cancel the contract and not lose your earnest money deposit. An experienced buyer agent understands the contract and will help you navigate through each step. Should you decide to cancel, they will advise you how best to do so.
Questions? Comments? Contact us via email or call (703) 913-1300.
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