While Virginia’s housing market has cooled a bit recently, market conditions are still strong with relatively low inventory and rising prices. A hot real estate market is known as a “seller’s market,” where homeowners who list their properties have the upper hand in choosing from multiple bids and often get more than they listed the house for. So, how can homebuyers land their dream home in 2021 or get ready to look in 2022? Before you jump in and get burned, make sure you are prepared with our guide for how to buy a house in today’s housing market in the Shenandoah Valley.
Many real estate agents will request a pre-approval letter before they show you houses. This is because real estate agents, like everyone else, don’t want to waste their time. Getting pre-approved means you are a serious buyer who has sat down with a lender and had your credit history and income vetted.
The pre-approval process will also help you avoid wasting your own time. When you go to a lender to get pre-approved, they will provide a borrowing range with a certain ceiling. That lets you know what kind of price range you should be looking in, saving you the time and heartache of falling in love with a home you can’t afford.
Finally, sellers don’t want to waste their time on a buyer whose financing isn’t lined up in advance. Especially in a hot market when sellers may receive multiple offers, a pre-approval letter can make your offer more attractive to the seller.
Luckily, the pre-approval process is swift and convenient at F&M Mortgage. Contact one of our Mortgage Advisors to get pre-approved and we will help guide you through the home purchasing process. We strive to make your experience as smooth and easy as possible. We want to help bring you HOME.
Let your real estate agent do the legwork
Real estate agents have much more experience matching buyers with the right home than you do with buying a home. Talk to your agent about your wish list, must-haves, and overall goals for your new home. They just may be able to find you a diamond in the rough or a home that’s perfect for you but didn’t catch your eye. Real estate agents may also hear of homes that are about to come to market, giving you a head start on making an offer.
While today’s homebuyers can scroll endlessly through online listings, it’s not always productive. Letting your real estate agent do some or most of the legwork for you will free you up to focus on other aspects of the home buying process, such as collecting documents to submit with your mortgage application.
Required Supporting Documents for Your Mortgage Application
Applying for a mortgage entails a thorough examination of your financial history and current situation. If you are buying the house with another person who will be on the mortgage loan, they will need to submit the same documentation such as:
- Copy of your government-issued photo ID
- Pay stubs from the past month
- Two years of federal tax returns
- Checking, savings, and other financial account statements from the past two months
- And additional documents as needed
As much as possible, collect these documents in advance to speed up the pre-approval and application process and make it as efficient as possible. If you have questions about the application process, our own Tonja Showalter, Jonathan Ischinger, and other lenders in Harrisonburg can help you.
Should you waive the home inspection or not?
While lenders usually require a home appraisal before approving your mortgage loan, the home inspection is discretionary and up to you to schedule and pay for. In a hot and competitive real estate market, you may be tempted to waive the home inspection so the seller will be more likely to choose your offer over others. However, skipping the home inspection could be very expensive and inconvenient later if there are large or chronic issues that you’re unaware of before you buy the home.
That’s why a home inspection is such an important step. It protects you from buying a home with issues you’re not aware of, as well as potentially giving you leverage to negotiate the sales price lower if a large repair comes up during the inspection. For example, what if the heater is about a year away from needing to be replaced or the roof is old and could need replacing any day now? It’s better to do your due diligence rather than face the potentially expensive consequences.
Keep calm and carry on with persistence
In today’s market, every buyer needs to be flexible and open to making compromises. Maybe you can’t get everything you want but you can get most of what you want. Before you make an offer, figure out the strongest number you can present (within your budget).
Find a good real estate agent who is experienced and will take time to answer your questions. Ask friends and family for recommendations. The same thing goes for finding a lender—you want someone who speaks to you respectfully and will answer your phone calls and questions.
F&M Mortgage Can Help You Navigate the Housing Market!
F&M Mortgage has been offering full-service home mortgages to the Shenandoah Valley and beyond since 1999. Along with parent company F&M Bank, our professional mortgage advisors offer personalized and friendly service to help you find the right loan options and mortgages to meet your residential and commercial lending needs. Considering new construction as an alternative to buying your home? Learn more about the pros and cons in our Guide to Construction Loans.