Five Things Alexandria VA Homebuyers Should Do Before Buying A Home This Spring

Over the past two weeks, I have been actively working with buyers who have the goal of moving in to their new home by springtime.  We've been facing some fierce competition, especially in the first-time buyer price range of $450,000 and under here in Alexandria.

If you're ready to peak out from beneath the snow and enter the real estate market, here are the top 5 things you must do before the weather, and the market, heats up even more:

  1. Get started with your mortgage approval.  Even though you may not be ready to move in until March or April, you should start the mortgage approval process as soon as possible.  It's free of charge, and it does not obligate you to a purchase.  You also may not be aware of items that may be on your credit report that are bringing your credit score down.  Your lender will be able to tell you if you can increase your score by paying off a debt or two, or if there is an error that needs to be removed.  Remember, the higher your credit score, the lower your interest rate. (See also, 10 Questions To Ask Your Lender)
  2. Talk to a knowledgeable buyer agent about what you're looking for (just hit reply).  One of the best things about being a professional Realtor is the networking opportunities that I have.  Being part of the #1 real estate brokerage in Alexandria, we share information about our upcoming listings.  So it's possible that we already have a seller match for you. (See also, 5 Reasons To Sign A Buyer Agency Agreement)
  3. Narrow down neighborhoods.  If you got stuck in last week's traffic horror, you probably had ideas of living a little bit closer to work.  Once you narrow down where you want to live, finding a home will be easier because you're not 'all over the place'.  Remember, eliminating is just as important as actually selecting a home. (See also, 5 Tips For Finding The Right Neighborhood)
  4. Determine your monthly budget. If you're looking at condos, don't forget to factor in your monthly condo fees once your lender has approved you for a loan.  Garden-styled (1-4 floors) condos will have the lowest fees, but they usually do not include all of the utilities.  High-rise (9+ floors) condos will have the highest fees, typically running over $500 per month, but will usually include all utilities.  Townhomes and single-family homes that are in a homeowner association will have either monthly or quarterly fees.  Determine the maximum amount that you're comfortable with.
  5. Figure out your lifestyle budget.  If you're transitioning from renter to homeowner, your ownership costs will likely be higher than your renting costs.  Figure out if you have to make any lifestyle adjustments to accommodate your new home.  For example, do you have to give up your gym membership?  Would you have to reduce the frequency that you dine out or travel? 

There will undoubtedly be some give and take.  You could live closer in, and save on gas by using metro, or you could live further out and also save on gas by taking advantage of the slug-lines or VRE.

If you have questions about buying a new home this spring, please give me a call today at 703-623-8759 or email me.

Here are some links to properties for sale right now: