Don’t Make These Mistakes When Buying

Let’s say you’ve found the house of your dreams, you’ve got it under contract, and in 30 days, you’ll be handed the keys. 

First of all, congratulations! That being said, if you don’t want to jeopardize your plans of becoming a homeowner, here are five common buyer mistakes you need to avoid making:

1. Quitting your job. Now is definitely not the time to quit your job or get fired. Before closing, your lender will call your employer to verify your employment status. If you don’t have a job, you might be denied financing. 

2. Buying a new car. If you’ve been waiting for an opportunity to buy your dream car, don’t do it before settlement—wait until afterward. If you lease a car or use financing to buy one during this time, your debt-to-income ratio will change, and you might not qualify to purchase the home anymore. This leads me to my next mistake to avoid...

3. Creating any new credit card debt. Don’t book any expensive vacations or make any large purchases. Again, this type of thing can wait until after settlement. 

4. Buying new appliances. This falls under the umbrella of creating new credit card debt, but it still warrants its own point because it happens so often. I understand you might be excited at the prospect of buying new appliances or furniture for your home, but using your credit card to make these purchases is another thing that will disrupt your debt-to-income ratio and prevent you from qualifying for your mortgage. 

5. Borrowing from your down payment sum. If you agree to put down, say, $30,000 for your home purchase, it needs to be that amount exactly—not anything less. 

As hard as it is to believe, I’ve seen people make all five of these mistakes during the home buying process, so keep them in mind and make sure nothing gets in the way of you closing on your dream home. 

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you. 

How You Can Appeal Your Home’s Tax Assessment

If you think your home’s tax assessment is too high, you can always appeal it.

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As a homeowner, tax assessments are something you have to deal with on every year. Upon finding out that their property tax has increased, many people simply throw their assessment in the shredder and accept the increase without giving it a second thought.

Don’t do that! If you read your assessment carefully, you’ll see that you have a right to appeal it. If you’re concerned that your assessment might not be accurate, you can save hundreds—maybe even thousands—of dollars by appealing it. Talk to a real estate professional first to get a second opinion of whether the assessment is inaccurate. 

If you decide you want to appeal, you can’t just call the county and tell them they’re charging you too much. You have to make a strong case to have your assessment reevaluated, and there’s a process you must follow, which is another reason to call a real estate professional (such as myself) to help you. When you make your case, you and your Realtor can find some bad comps to lower the assessment. 

Also, remember that there is no direct correlation between your home’s tax assessment and its market price. 

If you read your assessment carefully, you’ll see that you have a right to appeal it.

In some instances, it’s good to have a high tax assessment. If you plan on selling soon, for example, you don’t need to worry about a high tax assessment—you’re leaving soon anyway. Some buyers look at tax assessments when home shopping and assume that it’s good to make an offer above the home’s tax value, so in that case, the higher your tax assessment, the better. 

I actually worked with a seller once whose home had such low tax assessment that we had to call the county and have them increase it while their home was on the market. This client already failed to sell their home once with a different agent because all the buyers were comparing the home’s tax value to its list price and assuming it was way overpriced. In reality, it was just an error on the part of the county. 

So before you accept a high tax assessment, call your real estate professional and see if you can save some money by appealing it. 

As always, if you have any questions about this or any other real estate topic, don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I’d love to help you.

Real Estate Market Conditions in Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland

For this market update, I’ve compiled the data from the Northern Virginia, D.C., and Maryland real estate markets because all of the numbers are so similar. Here’s what you need to know. 

Let’s start by looking at what the real estate market is doing today. The median sold price in the D.C. Metro is up by 2.91%. Although there is a 17% appreciation rate right now in Arlington, it’s from a much smaller sample size.

The average days on market is down by 18.97%—from 58 days to 47 days. You might think 47 days is a long time, but this statistic takes into account luxury homes, which typically take much longer to sell. 

Our inventory remains at an all-time low.

For attached units such as condos and townhomes, their closed units are down 3.27%. The sales for detached units, or single-family homes, is up by 3.07%.

Our inventory remains at an all-time low, sales have remained steady, and homes are still appreciating at a steady pace. Affordability, however, has taken a bit of a toll on the market as well as an uncertain economic future.

Keep in mind that most recessions are typically good for real estate markets. With the exception of the last recession, which was caused by real estate, home prices have appreciated during recessions many times in the past.

If you have any questions for me about the market or about real estate in general, don’t hesitate to give me a call or send me an email. I look forward to hearing from you soon.