Home Buying Resources
Tips for Purchasing a Home in Charlottesville
Buying a home in Charlottesville, Virginia is a multi-step process. Whether you're a first-time home buyer or a seasoned real estate investor, it never hurts to review the nuances of finding, negotiating, and closing on a home. Follow these guidelines to help you learn exactly what to expect when buying a home in Charlottesville.
First, Calculate What You Can Afford
Buying a home is a long-term financial commitment, since you will be spending several years paying your home mortgage. Before you start searching for properties, determine how much you are comfortable paying every month. Carefully budget what you can afford — including costs for future home upgrades, regular maintenance, taxes and insurance, and monthly utilities — and use our mortgage calculator to figure out your ideal price range.
Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage
After you figure out what you are comfortable paying every month for a mortgage, it's time to talk to a lender. Obtaining financing before you start your home search is a smart decision: Once you've found the home of your dreams, you have the advantage over other buyers who haven't yet applied for a mortgage.
When you visit your lender, arm yourself with your credit score, W-2 forms and pay stubs, a recent tax return, and other relevant documents to verify your finances.
Make a List of Wants and Needs
You likely won't find a home that has each and every one of the features and amenities you prefer. Avoid frustration by creating a list of what you want and what you need in a home, which will help you narrow down your choices for your Charlottesville home. Ask yourself these questions as you're making your list:
- How far are you willing to commute to work, the grocery store, or your favorite shopping center?
- Will you need space for your guests? Will an additional bedroom work, or would you need a guest suite?
- Will you need additional bedrooms to accommodate a growing family?
- If you have pets, will they have enough room to play outside?
- Will you need a large kitchen or living room?
Choose Your Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent is an invaluable resource when it comes to finding and buying a home in Charlottesville. He or she will work with you to determine which areas and communities will have homes that meet your needs, will assist you with finding the best home, and will provide you with helpful information about the home buying process.
As natives and longtime Realtors® in this area, we take all the hassle out of buying a home in Charlottesville. Because of our commitment to our clients and our history of success, we have earned numerous awards that include "Top Producer" and "Outstanding Achievement." Learn more about what sets The Chase Team apart from the competition.
Search for Charlottesville Homes for Sale
Now comes the fun part — searching for your dream home! To make it easy for you to find your ideal home, we have created home search options based on price range, lifestyle, and area. You can also start by browsing all available Charlottesville homes for sale or exploring available homes in popular communities.
If you need any assistance, we are happy to help. Just call us at (434) 296-9860 and we can talk about what you're looking for in your next home.
Tour Your Favorite Neighborhood
If you have your heart set on living in a specific community, take some time to explore the neighborhood in person. You'll want to visit the community at different hours of the day to see what life is like. Make sure you visit in the mornings when buses are picking children up for school and in the evenings during rush hour when it's presumed everyone is returning home from work.
Schedule a Home Viewing
Just like test-driving a car before you buy it, you should take a tour of a home before you consider purchasing it. Do more than look around — test the doorknobs, open cabinets and windows, and turn on faucets and light switches. Take notes and pictures of what you liked about the home, what you didn't like about the home, and what you saw that needs repair.
Make an Offer on a Home
Once you've found your ideal home, it's time to make an offer. As your real estate agent, we will prepare the necessary contract documents and present them to the seller’s broker. If you have any contingencies, such as a home inspection or making the offer dependent upon the sale of your existing home, we will include those in the offer.
Order a Home Inspection
Within 10 days of the seller accepting your offer, order a home inspection to see if there are any major repairs that need to be made. If you’re purchasing a farm or unimproved property, we may have included a study period in your contract to allow you to investigate the property’s suitability for farm uses, water supply, septic systems, etc. Many of these subjects require a specialist for investigation and reporting, but the one common denominator for most buyers is the home inspection.
A good inspector will educate you about the home, provide advice for proper maintenance and upkeep, and point out potential or existing conditions that may affect the value of the property. An advantage of putting an inspection contingency in your contracts is that if the inspector finds major problems, such as a non-functioning heating system or structural damage, you may be able to renegotiate your contract with the seller.
Complete Your Loan Application
At the same time we are scheduling your inspections, you will make your formal loan application. The standard Virginia Association of Realtors® real estate contract requires that you make written application for financing within 5 business days of contract acceptance.
Have the Home Appraised
After receiving your application, the lender will contract with a local appraiser to visit and appraise the property. This is a very important step in the financing process, one where the lender’s familiarity with local market conditions and trusted relationships with local appraisers will work to your advantage as the lender determines whether or not the contract price for the property is supported by other arm’s-length transactions. A good deal of research, time, and effort is required of the appraiser to accurately support the contract value.
Once complete, the appraisal is returned to the lender and is reviewed, along with all your other credit information, by the lender’s underwriter. If the underwriter is satisfied with the value and your financial circumstances, a conditional loan commitment will be issued to you and your loan officer.
Monitor Your Credit Activity
Shortly before closing the lender will review your financial circumstances again, looking for any significant changes in your credit score or liabilities that would affect your ability to repay the mortgage. During the time between contract acceptance and closing on your property, you should not engage in any activities that would adversely affect your credit worthiness. Such activities include significantly increasing your credit card debt, and shopping for a car, major appliances, furniture, or other costly items.
Purchase Title Insurance
Your lender will also require a search of the title records for the property to ensure that there are no known defects in the chain of title and that the seller is indeed the owner of record and able to convey title to you at closing. Once the title search is complete, the lender will require that you purchase title insurance to insure the lender’s interest in the property.
Hire a Settlement Agent
In order to close on your purchase, you will have to hire a settlement agent. In Virginia, settlement agents are not required to be attorneys, but we highly recommend that you work with one. Just as with local lenders, we have excellent working relationships with several local attorneys who can handle your closing. Your attorney will order the title search, review the Deed, prepare a settlement statement, inform you of the exact dollar amount due from you at closing, and schedule a time for you to go to the office to sign all the necessary closing documents (usually on the day of closing).
Take a Final Walk-Through of the Home
Shortly before closing (usually the morning of or the night before), you will have the opportunity to visit the property to ensure it is broom-clean and, generally speaking, in the same condition it was in at the time you made the offer. We will schedule this with you and accompany you on this final review of the property before closing.
Proceed to the Closing Table
Shortly before closing (often only 24 hours before), your attorney will be able to provide you with the exact amount of cash you need to bring to closing. Funds supplied by you must be in the form of a Cashier’s check or by wire transfer to your attorney’s fiduciary account. When you arrive at closing, you will be presented with all of the closing documents for your review and signature. Be sure to read and understand everything you sign at closing, and feel free to ask your attorney’s paralegal questions if something doesn’t appear correct. Changes and corrections can still be made at this time, if necessary.
Once you’ve signed all the documents and provided funds to your attorney, you may think the property is yours — and it almost is. But, until funds are received from your lender, the Deed received by your attorney and the total purchase amount released to the seller, you are not owner and are not entitled to possession or access to the property. This can be important if you have a moving truck on the way so be sure to discuss with us and your attorney exactly when you will be able to take possession of your new home.
Enjoy Peace of Mind with The Chase Team
The right real estate agent can save you time, money, and stress as you journey through the home buying process, from navigating contracts to providing helpful home buying resources. The Chase Team has received recognition for outstanding real estate achievement and rave reviews from clients. Contact us if you have any questions about buying a home in Charlottesville.