You are a buyer and found the ONE, now what

Happiness Heart

You can hardly believe it. Truth be told, it is not exactly what you thought it would be and then again “upon further review”, it is exactly what you hoped to find.

Sure, you started out with some general ideas. Maybe, things started coming into focus when you traveled around the area. At first, those “For Sale” signs were just multi-colored blurs on the periphery. The subliminal message was taking root in that tiny corner of your mind where dreams are born. Life changes doesn’t it. One day the apartment you’re in is sufficient, the banner flying high declaring your independence. It is the place where you learn the lessons of housekeeping, privacy and style.

No one can really pinpoint that moment when the walls began closing in. Maybe it was the morning you stubbed your toe, navigating through the apparently diminishing space between the bed and your dresser. It could have been that night you had friends over and the once spacious living room felt like phone booth. Then again, it could have been that moment, sharing a drink with someone special and suddenly two addresses just didn’t make sense anymore.

Today, you have been through the gauntlet and have found the place.  After what must feel like an impossible journey, you know where you want to call home. Your home. You have told your agent, this is IT!

Now what?

I can’t speak for every agent. I can only share a broad overview of the next steps taken if I were your agent. (note:that statement is tweetable)

While you have been visiting homes and tweaking your list (moving “must haves” to “like to haves” and adding new “must haves” to cover things you had not considered), your agent has been quietly keeping track of the market that includes for sale, sold, off the market, etc. Behind the scenes, data has been sorted, dissected and reviewed. Now that you are ready to move forward with an offer, the pieces will come together. While you share the good news with family and friends, the framework of the next step is being put together by your agent.

The first conversation will take place between your agent and the listing agent. On the surface, it may appear that the only thing being accomplished is gathering the necessary disclosures. Appearances are deceiving. Your agent is already beginning the negotiation process. Reviewing the listing agent’s history before the call has offered some insight but the conversation will season the statistical data and offer hints as to which direction the negotiation should take.

Your lender will also be contacted. A letter validating your ability to actually buy the home must be included with your offer to purchase. This is another conversation in which your agent will develop more information necessary for the ongoing negotiation. A discussion of how your offer will be prepared and what may be necessary for responding to any counter offer will take place.

Once all the necessary information has been gathered, your agent will go over the offer process with you. You will be asked to fill out a financial information sheet that will accompany your offer. This is basic information given to the seller so they will have a certain comfort level that you actually do have enough cash on hand to cover the amount of money you will have to bring to closing. The letter from the lender is but one piece of the puzzle. A seller will want to see the probable source of down payment, closing costs, etc. This is well within their rights. Money is not a “protected class” and if a seller is not comfortable with all the issues surrounding your financial ability to purchase the home, they can refuse to accept your offer.

Your actual offer will be prepared with the help of your agent. Forms that have been developed by the local real estate commission will be used. They include the basic contract of sale which outlines the terms necessary to make a legal purchase. In addition to the basic offer/contract, you will have addendum’s specific to the jurisdiction, others defining contingencies of the offer and even more that narrow the terms of the offer. You will also have disclosures about the property prepared by the seller that cover the condition of the home.

It may seem a bit overwhelming, but remember if it is not in writing, it does not exist. Your offer, once counter signed by the seller becomes the final contract of sale. It will provide the framework for the transaction.

Your agent will submit your offer.

You will discover that there are 60 long seconds in every minute. You will become aware that every passing hour has 60 plodding minutes. You will wait, and wait and probably wait some more. After all, the ball is in the seller’s court.

Attempting to determine the outcome based on the length of time you have to wait for a response is pure folly. Your agent can not possibly know all of the factors the seller is sorting through. You have come this far, now is not the time to bristle. You have done all that you can do. Until you receive a response, patience will be your sweetest ally.

what have i doneOf course, it is only natural for you to be filled with a little doubt.  Angst is doubts pain filled bedfellow. Cup of coffee or latte, maybe you do that every day. This is a major step. For most people, the biggest expense they have dealt with (other than college loans) has been an exotic vacation. This is all about the long term.  This is home.  Sure, it is not forever, but, it is today and this is a lot of tomorrows.

Anybody in your situation would be spending a few minutes here and there wondering about the decision.  Trust yourself, you have come this far based on desire and practical application.  You have followed the necessary steps to reach this point. The seller will respond and you will have the support and counsel of your agent to deal with any counter offer that might be made. If the offer is accepted, you will be shepherded through all the following steps in the process.

You have found the ONE. With the guidance of your agent, you can now proceed to see if the ONE is the ONE.

Just beginning? Fill out the form and get the support of a “REAL” Realtor

Let’s talk about loans …

bookcover

O.K. maybe not loans, but I think everyone should have a short primer regarding how folks pay for a house.  It really doesn’t matter if it is a co-op, a condo, a town home or a single family home.  One of the basic rules of contract law includes the need for consideration. Consideration is just a fancy legal term for money. If you want to buy a house, you have to be able to produce the funds at settlement.

Now, if you happen to be loaded and can pay cash for the house, well you can either read through this for information, or you can check out another one of the articles I have written. For those of you that want to buy a home and don’t have cash on hand, this is for you.

For purposes of example, I will use a $500,000 purchase price. You and the seller have agreed on the price. Well now, wait a minute, let’s back up. You really should have an idea about all of this before you begin looking for a home.  The very first question you have to ask yourself after deciding you want to own a home of your own is how much can I pay for a home (keeping mindful that your comfort level should be dictated by what you can afford and not what you would like).

I am not a lender. I can only give you general advice in this area. Let’s make that specific advice. After reading this primer, talk to a bonafide lender! Then talk to another. Keep talking until you find one that you are comfortable with. They will provide the rock that your dreams of owning a home will be built upon. The lender will gather information about you and tell you what you can borrow.

The most basic loan is a conventional loan.  Lenders like this sort of loan because it requires that the borrower (you) contribute at least a 20% down payment.  In the example of a $500.000 purchase, you will be putting at least $100,000 down and the lender will provide the rest of the money. Each month you will make a payment that includes principal and interest.  If you do not have 20% down, you can receive a gift from parents or grandparents or anyone to make up the difference. You will need to provide the lender with proof that it is in fact a gift and not a loan. If you just don’t have the 20% down, you have other options.

The FHA guarantees loans. That just means that your lender will have insurance that some of the money you borrowed is guaranteed to be paid back. If you default, the insurance involved steps in. This guarantee allows lenders to loan money to people that don’t have the 20% down payment available. You still have to have at least 3.5% of the purchase price available, and there are limits on how much money you can borrow. The credit demands are a bit less restrictive. Oh, and you still go through the underwriting process. The FHA has rules about who can qualify and their criteria must be met. Every month you will have a payment that includes principal and interest and the mortgage insurance premium (yep, you have to pay the insurance. if you don’t like that, put 20% down).

Veterans have loan guarantees available to them as well. They can get a VA loan. This type of loan is from lenders but it is guaranteed by the Veteran’s Administration. Another feature of the VA loan is that you don’t have to have any money down. This sounds great, but the flip side is that you will have a higher mortgage and you will have  VA fee as well. The VA doesn’t lend the money. Just like the FHA, they guarantee a portion of the loan. That’s right, you pay the premium for the protection.

In some areas, the USDA guarantees loans. It is very similar to the VA in that, you don’t have to put any money down. Again, remember your loan amount will be higher and your payments will be higher as well. This is a great program if you are purchasing a home in an area where these loans are available.

Of course there are all sorts of hybrid loan types out there. There are terms that vary with lenders.

Things to know.  An ARM is an adjustable rate mortgage.  Simply put, the interest rate is fixed for a short term and then it can go up or down depending on the market. Usually, there is a cap on the interest rate (i.e. the highest amount the interest can be).  Lenders offer these loans at attractive rates. You should always consider what you can afford at the market rate today, that means the size mortgage you are comfortable paying at market rates.  Use the lower rate as a saving not a method to qualify for more home  (if variable rates are lower, borrow less and invest the saved money). NOTE: that is just my opinion. I really believe borrowing money, hoping that your income will go up when the rates go up is a fast track to foreclosure.

An interest only loan is another product some lenders offer. Not a bad deal for the lender. You move in. You pay interest on the loan until the interest only term runs out and then your payment shoots up like a rocket ship on rails. Oops. You can’t pay and the home goes into foreclosure. Interest only loans only have the interest of the lender at heart.

So it is not really confusing. There is a conventional loan and then there are other products available to those that do not have sufficient money saved to buy a home. Lots of people have used the FHA guaranteed loans and VA guaranteed loans and USDA supported loans. They are good loans. As a matter of fact, all loan products are good products if they are used by the right borrower.

Buying a home is a major step. I think it is wise to have some money set aside to invest in your purchase.  Of course, you may use a loan product that does not require that you put that money into the purchase of the home. Home ownership is not cheap. The money should be set aside for maintenance and upkeep. It will be your home after all.

If you have any questions, talk to your lender. If you are in the DC area and do not have a lender, I will provide you with a list of three names. You can call them all.

Once you have been pre-approved and are ready to begin the search, well, that”s my area of expertise. Once you are in my hands, I will review where you are with the lender, offer some advice about fine tuning the financing and then I will listen to you tell me a tale of your dreams and set out to assist you in making those dreams come true.

As always, I am only a phone call away…. 301-509-5111

The DC housing market … why is it so hot

Every recent market report seems to add the caveat that DC is an anomaly. Most markets are still attempting to recover from the 2006 crash. DC took a bit of a dip, but is roaring back. How can this be happening?  The economy is certainly not much better today than it has been for several years. Federal workers haven’t seen a raise in pay for a few years. If all economic indicators remain uncertain, why are homes in DC costing more every month?

The answer is as plain as day.  DC has jobs.  Very few places across the country can make the same claim. DC is a small 10 square mile area. There are only so many homes that will fit. Engineers and builders and architects can do a lot of things …. they can not create more dirt. Space is limited in DC. Put those two factors together and you have recipe for rising home prices (regardless of the economy).

This little chart covers the phenomena.  At the top, the various places new residents come from are depicted.  People moving to DC come from Universities (college dorms or off campus shared housing), their parent’s home, homes they own in other parts of the country or homes they rent elsewhere.  They want to live in or near DC and begin a search. Almost every last one of them jumps on the internet and begins their search there.  After all, there are hundreds of thousands of websites that share available homes in DC.  The majority of the people searching do not understand that the accuracy of the data is often outdated or limited at best.  For every single home/town home/row home/condo listed there is just one property. How that property is displayed has more to do with syndication by agents and brokers than it has to do with the actual property. (A word to the wise: If you want to be more successful in your search, contact an agent in the area. Talk to someone that knows more about the area than can be revealed in wikipedia or some local towns site. Boots on the ground, an ability to listen and then share information is the best way to discover DC (or any other area for that matter).

housing flow chart

As always, DC has more people wanting to live here than there are places to live.  More buyers than available homes creates an imbalance and that old supply and demand process takes over.  Multiple bids appear, prices continue to rise and the market remains “hot”.  Regardless of promises that might be made by some, the truth is you may not find a home you are seeking for the price you are willing or able to pay.  I certainly would never guarantee that home prices will continue to rise, but I promise you that I can see nothing in the marketplace that will slow down the DC market in the near or distant future.

If you are considering a move to DC, you need factually based assistance.  You need to begin the process now, rather than later. You need to begin putting together a comprehensive home buying plan today.  Remember, a comprehensive plan begins with a discussion with a lender. Know what you can comfortably afford. Then, and only then, take the next step. Contact an agent that knows DC. Speak with someone that knows the difference between Adams Morgan and Madame’s Organ. Have a conversation with some one that understands the difference between Petworth and what is a pet worth, the difference between NOMA and no mas or the difference between the Capitol and Capitol Hill.  Subtle differences of a few blocks can add 30 minutes to an hour or more to your commute each day. A map of the subway (Metorail Line) does not include information regarding ease of use or ease of transfer.  A google map of DC will not reveal the walking score of a neighborhood.

DC is my town. I was born here. I know the neighborhoods. I know the Metro stops. I know the nightlife. This is a great place to live. Before you move here and decide on an address, don’t you think we might need to talk.  My phone number is 301-509-5111.

For More Information

Carry Lofts … DC’s upscale affordable new address

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Carry Lofts 257 15th St SE Washington DC 20003

Priced in low to mid $500’s

(condo fees under $350 per month)

Carry Lofts is located a few blocks east of Eastern Market at 257 15th Street SE . The project has three two-bedroom units and a one-bedroom w/den condo that range in size from 928 to 1,022 square feet (monthly condo fees run in the mid-$300s). Each unit is unique in layout and style.

Every unit in the building has up to 18-foot ceilings, unique loft details, stainless steel railings, private outdoor space, silestone counters in the kitchen, stainless steel appliances, gas cooking, distinctive lighting features with dimmers, prewired for security systems, Dolby surround sound and two full bathrooms (one has a shower, the other has a tub), modern full size front-loading washer/dryer and central A/C. Every appliance (in both the kitchen and laundry) is Energy Star rated. A casual walk through each unit reveals an attention to detail not always found in new condos as well as the use of top of the line materials in every facet of construction.  And on top of all of that, every unit has multiple exposures offering plenty of natural light.

The private residential lobby has an electronic guest entry system and the building has bicycle storage. Nearby features are a upscale Safeway Food Store, 2 metro stations, the aforementioned Eastern Market and Barracks Row. The neighborhood is walkable.

The owners, builder and management company have all put their efforts in creating a delightful building that will be home to 4 very happy owners.  If you, or someone you know, is looking for that perfect home in DC, the Carry Lofts might just be the spot they are seeking.  I would be glad to arrange a private tour of the building, just give me a call at 301-509-5111.

For more DC information

The #1 home search site in the DC area …

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         Sure, there is a lot of information here. If you take the time to scroll through that list over there on the right, you will find advice, neighborhood information, personal rants and some videos.  All of it is provided to educate.  It is  your dime.  Now if you just want to start looking at homes, use the link above. It is our personal little Multiple Listing Service rip-off. It has more information than most search engines. Try it, you’ll like it. If  you just want to read…go ahead, pick a link on the right and click it.

Closing help for families of three in DC..income up to $74,500…You bet!!!

Stand in the long line of dreamers

or

Tap into resources others fail to use

         So, the little one bedroom apartment is getting really crowded. Sure, when the market went crazy, it seemed like a good idea to wait.  The arrival of the baby only met rearranging living conditions for awhile.  That little bundle of joy is now heading towards the terrible twos and one bedroom living is no longer comfortable.

          You would consider buying but the new addition has crimped your savings. You would consider buying, but what do you do with little cash on hand?  You are not alone.  There is a long line of folks facing the same dilemma.  You can choose to stand in that line or you can tap into resources that others fail to use.  There is help available.

         Of course you weren’t aware of it. You have enough to worry about being a parent and a spouse. You have enough to deal with doing your job, earning an income and hopefully scratching out time for one “date night” every couple of weeks.  Not to worry.  I check this stuff out all the time. It is my job to dig around and find ways to get you from that cramped living to a comfortable home of your own. I do know the path that is available to you.

        So, if you are ready and want to find out if you qualify, click this link -> contact me

Same sex couples find refuge in DC

         Back in March, the District of Columbia began allowing same sex couples the opportunity to marry.  The usual suspects attempted to reverse this decision, but in July the courts upheld the original law.  DC already had a reputation for being “gay friendly” ( I personally think that the term should be “somewhat tolerant if you stay in limited areas and keep your fondness for one another private”).  Friendly is not the word that immediately comes to mind when considering the vitriol and animosity shared by the narrow minded neanderthalic and religious conservatives. To my way of thinking, the human race has bigger fish to fry than expending so much energy on trying to prevent basic human rights and considerations being afforded to EVERYONE.

          I do not live in a vacuum and I am perfectly content to accept that there is room on this mortal coil for people of all persuasions.  As long as one’s chosen lifestyle does not infringe on the right’s of another, they should have the opportunity to seek “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness”. ( If that sounds vaguely familiar, it is taken directly from the Declaration of Independence. A little document our founders put together without reference to marital relationships. It was directed to everyone, well almost everyone, it took the Civil Rights Act to increase the African American from 3/5th’s to a whole.)

          The DC law has ” leveled the playing field” for same sex couples. Concerns about the right to do something as basic as visiting a partner in the hospital or whom to list as an emergency contact are no longer an issue in the District of Columbia.  The law does not mean that those opposed will be silenced, it does mean that if you are in love and want to be married, DC will grant you that opportunity. It’s about time that the removal of stigmas associated with caring for a same sex partner were legislatively removed.  It’s about time we allowed couples to legally marry.

          I am sure that there will be those that decide to not do business with me because I support this basic human right.  Truth be told, I won’t miss them. I would prefer not to do business with people that have a warped sense of supremacy.  Business transactions are much smoother when you deal with people that are comfortable in their own skin.

         Had the law been passed sooner, I could have attended family members weddings (I was not able to travel to a past wedding that had to take place hundreds of miles away because two people in love happened to be of the same sex.)  I won’t drop that old ” I have lots of (gay,black,jewish, insert any group) friends” line.  Truth be told, everyone has friends from every walk of life and lifestyle (some of you just don’t know it!).

         You see, I don’t care what consenting adults do in their bedroom. Professionally, I want to be sure that they find the bedroom they want.  I don’t care who is relegated to cooking. Professionally, I want to be sure that the kitchen they find is suitable for their culinary skills.  I don’t care about the ethnic, racial, religious or sexual persuasion of the friends enjoying a backyard barbecue.  Professionally, I want to be sure that the backyard is the size they desire. My job is to help people find a place they can call home.  I like what I do.

          I am a Realtor. I am licensed in the District of Columbia.  I don’t believe that your personal comfort zone eliminates me from representing you.  I happen to believe that people want experienced assistance.  The experience may include people from all walks of life, but the common denominator is the ability to find a home, negotiate a transaction while protecting the client’s interests.  The practice of solid real estate is the basis of my business.  I love the challenge of finding the right home at the right price for my clients.  I think everyone deserves that sort of representation.

          I was born in Washington DC and I have seen it go through growing pains and metamorphis into the city it is today. I have watched it move from a sleepy southern town to vibrant metropolis.  I miss Griffith Stadium but love the new ballpark.  I still sneak a bowl of Chili at Bens now and then.  I know the traffic patterns.  I am happy that the P Street beach remains and still find spending an afternoon at Dupont Circle relaxing. I am glad the DC government seems to be functioning more smoothly and I share the angst of many with the foibles that are ongoing in the Mayor’s Office and City Council.  The city continues to improve despite their short comings.

         DC is a Capital City.  DC has taken a large step towards equality for all it’s residents.  DC is a great place to live. If you are interested in moving to the District of Columbia, I would welcome the opportunity to assist you.  I can be reached at 301-509-5111.  Isn’t it nice that same sex couples find refuge in DC?