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Daseal 07-09-2014 12:10 PM

First Time Homebuyer
 
Dear Warpath,

You've always been helpful with life decisions in the past and I respect the feedback members of this community provide. Well, I'm officially starting my search for a home. We've picked a realator we trust and will start viewing properties shortly. We're looking in the competitive Northern VA market where our realators told us most houses don't make it past a 3-7 days, so moving fast when you like a house is critical.

I'm asking for any hints you guys have for any part of the process. It's an extremely daunting task and hope people can provide some tips on what I should focus on to make sure I don't make a mistake! Off the top of my head, if you have any help in the following areas I would be extremely grateful:[LIST][*]Visiting Properties. Outside basic features/layout/location, what should I look for when visiting a home?[*]Financing. Tips/Items to avoid.[*]Features. What do you love about your house, or realize you wish it had?[*]HOA pitfalls. I'm not a big fan of HOA's. I like them in theory to keep the neighborhood nice, but when they're dictating the 2 colors you can paint your house it's too far. What are some pitfalls you've seen in HOAs. (Note. Nearly impossible in our search area to find a house w/o an HOA.)[*]Renovations. We want a mostly move-in ready type property, but are okay with small renovations. I'm not super handy, but willing to work on it some. Most work would have to be done by a professional. What are some success/horror stories from your homes on items I should be willing to renovate vs. hire a professional vs. buy a house with that already taken care of.[/LIST]
Anything you can think of would be appreciated. We're currently searching for homes in Reston/Herndon/Sterling/Burke/Springfield/Centreville areas. We're open to other places. I work in DC and my girlfriend in Tysons. My commute's going to suck, but suck less than paying someone elses mortgage every month!

Edit: I'd be buying the home with my girlfriend. We've been together for almost 3 years now and will likely get married soon. But if anyone has done that before feedback would be appreciated. I know you can setup the loan to have both names and set ownership to 50/50. Would getting married after the home end up complicating that agreement?

skinsguy 07-09-2014 12:37 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[LIST][*]Look for cracks in the foundation, evidence of leaks such as stains on the ceiling, etc... if the house leaks when it rains and if you have noticeable cracks in the foundation, you're going to run into a huge cost of repair right off the top and chances are, the sellers don't have the money to fix it, otherwise they probably would have already done so. When looking at the landscape, think about how much time and effort you're willing to put into keeping it up. Do you have the equipment necessary to keep a large lawn looking nice. Also, take notice of the other houses in the neighborhood.[*]What I love about my house is that it's at the end of a dead end road in a very quiet neighborhood. It's all one level so we don't have to worry about going up and down steps. We have a two car garage that is attached and a second attached garage that we can utilize. What I hate is that there is no basement to turn into a man cave.[*]Most likely it will be unavoidable, but stay away from HOAs if necessary. I live in a neighborhood that is HOA free, and the neighborhood looks nice. Everybody takes pride in their homes and landscape. Yes, we don't have side walks and street lights, and we don't have neighborhood pools, but we have freedom with our houses.[*]Only buy a "fixer upper" if you have the time and money it takes to put into the reno. It sounds like you want to avoid that as much as possible, and since it sounds like you're not a handy man (neither am I) I would avoid any home that is going to need immediate renov, unless the savings outweigh the cost of reno. If you're going to have a lengthy commute to work every day, you're not going to have the time and energy to put into a huge reno, and you're probably not going to want to spend each and every weekend working on the house. Even houses that appear to be move in ready can fool you, so you have to look at these homes and details very closely.[*]Also, NEVER EVER finance a home with a variable interest rate. Rates are still low enough where you can lock in a decent fixed rate. If you're a member of a credit union, I'd talk to them first. NEVER finance your house with the same company you bank with. I don't have time to get into all of that, but it's not good practice.[/LIST]Lastly, I would personally caution you on buying a home with someone you're just dating. I understand it sounds like you guys are getting married within the next little bit, but it's taking a big chance. Just my opinion though. If you're buying the home based on both yours and your girlfriend's salary, you don't need to be buying the home. You need to base it on one income - either yours or hers. That might cut down on home options for you, but believe me, this is the best way to go. Again, it's just my opinion, but I know you asked because you truly do want our opinion, and I'm sure there will be others who will disagree, but I'd think about all of these points long and hard before jumping into home ownership.

Daseal 07-09-2014 12:52 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=skinsguy;1075354][LIST][*]Look for cracks in the foundation, evidence of leaks such as stains on the ceiling, etc... if the house leaks when it rains and if you have noticeable cracks in the foundation, you're going to run into a huge cost of repair right off the top and chances are, the sellers don't have the money to fix it, otherwise they probably would have already done so. When looking at the landscape, think about how much time and effort you're willing to put into keeping it up. Do you have the equipment necessary to keep a large lawn looking nice. Also, take notice of the other houses in the neighborhood.[*]What I love about my house is that it's at the end of a dead end road in a very quiet neighborhood. It's all one level so we don't have to worry about going up and down steps. We have a two car garage that is attached and a second attached garage that we can utilize. What I hate is that there is no basement to turn into a man cave.[*]Most likely it will be unavoidable, but stay away from HOAs if necessary. I live in a neighborhood that is HOA free, and the neighborhood looks nice. Everybody takes pride in their homes and landscape. Yes, we don't have side walks and street lights, and we don't have neighborhood pools, but we have freedom with our houses.[*]Only buy a "fixer upper" if you have the time and money it takes to put into the reno. It sounds like you want to avoid that as much as possible, and since it sounds like you're not a handy man (neither am I) I would avoid any home that is going to need immediate renov, unless the savings outweigh the cost of reno. If you're going to have a lengthy commute to work every day, you're not going to have the time and energy to put into a huge reno, and you're probably not going to want to spend each and every weekend working on the house. Even houses that appear to be move in ready can fool you, so you have to look at these homes and details very closely.[*]Also, NEVER EVER finance a home with a variable interest rate. Rates are still low enough where you can lock in a decent fixed rate. If you're a member of a credit union, I'd talk to them first. NEVER finance your house with the same company you bank with. I don't have time to get into all of that, but it's not good practice.[/LIST]Lastly, I would personally caution you on buying a home with someone you're just dating. I understand it sounds like you guys are getting married within the next little bit, but it's taking a big chance. Just my opinion though. If you're buying the home based on both yours and your girlfriend's salary, you don't need to be buying the home. You need to base it on one income - either yours or hers. That might cut down on home options for you, but believe me, this is the best way to go. Again, it's just my opinion, but I know you asked because you truly do want our opinion, and I'm sure there will be others who will disagree, but I'd think about all of these points long and hard before jumping into home ownership.[/quote]

Skinsguy,

Great advice. Thanks a lot. I'm hoping the home inspection would do a deep dive on the foundation, but I'll definitely look into that when looking at homes. What I want to avoid is a major construction project. When it comes to renovations we only want to deal with renovations that wouldn't displace us from the property, even if it's annoying for a while.

I'm definitely looking at fixed-rate only. But that's a good piece of advice and helped solidify my decision.

As far as buying a house with my girlfriend. I do realize it's risky, but our price range is something that could be absorbed by either one of our salaries if necessary. We could afford a more expensive home, but I want to keep our payment relatively low so we can get a decent amount of equity in the home by paying over our mortgage a bit. If I did end up with the house solo, I'd be more comfortable with a roommate, but wouldn't require one.

Chico23231 07-09-2014 01:17 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
Daseal, just a couple things. First HOA are extremely lame unless your getting access to a nice pool or nice recreation area provided by the HOA. If not eff'em.

My advice is really narrow your location...your basically looking all over fairfax with the spots you listed. Find really an area that provides everything you need and then have your realtor send your zone updated every day. That way when something hits, you will be more prepared.

Daseal 07-09-2014 02:09 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=Chico23231;1075359]Daseal, just a couple things. First HOA are extremely lame unless your getting access to a nice pool or nice recreation area provided by the HOA. If not eff'em.

My advice is really narrow your location...your basically looking all over fairfax with the spots you listed. Find really an area that provides everything you need and then have your realtor send your zone updated every day. That way when something hits, you will be more prepared.[/quote]

Chico,

I like your advice about narrowing the location. We need to get out and explore all the areas and really focus on a certain area that meets our needs. We'll be doing that over the next month as we find which neighborhoods we like.

In regards to HOA, every home I've seen has an HOA. Does anyone in Fairfax/Loudon live in a home without and HOA?

Chico23231 07-09-2014 02:16 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
Thats really scandelous about dem HOA fees. Gotta love northern Va. Thats another Realtor question too, they should have all that info.

Mattyk 07-09-2014 08:17 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
Believe me I speak from experience on this one. As far as hiring someone for renovations just make sure you do some homework. Either use someone that comes [U]highly recommended[/U] from someone you know and trust, or make sure you screen them really well.

Ask for references and a portfolio of their past work. Get multiple quotes if need be, and if you don't feel right at any point during the renovation, don't be afraid to step in and say something. Get everything in writing and be wary of someone who will only take cash. For small jobs it's ok, but for major work you want a paper trail.

Mattyk 07-09-2014 08:24 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=Chico23231;1075359]Daseal, just a couple things. First HOA are extremely lame unless your getting access to a nice pool or nice recreation area provided by the HOA. If not eff'em.[/quote]

Yeah no point otherwise. Mine covers all outside maintenance, trash removal, and we have an indoor/outdoor pool, b-ball courts, weight room, tennis courts, etc. Well worth the $$. Plus I appreciate the rules too. Don't have to worry about a neighbor putting a car up on cinder blocks and leaving it there for months or people letting their lawns go to hell.

FRPLG 07-10-2014 01:18 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
First tip. Your agent doesn't work for you. They get paid by the seller. Always remember that. They represent you but they only make money if you buy. They're motivated accordingly.

Giantone 07-10-2014 05:32 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=FRPLG;1075404]First tip. Your agent doesn't work for you. They get paid by the seller. Always remember that. They represent you but they only make money if you buy. They're motivated accordingly.[/quote]



This , remember you are in charge at all times !

skinsguy 07-10-2014 10:12 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=Daseal;1075356]Skinsguy,

Great advice. Thanks a lot. I'm hoping the home inspection would do a deep dive on the foundation, but I'll definitely look into that when looking at homes. What I want to avoid is a major construction project. When it comes to renovations we only want to deal with renovations that wouldn't displace us from the property, even if it's annoying for a while.

I'm definitely looking at fixed-rate only. But that's a good piece of advice and helped solidify my decision.

As far as buying a house with my girlfriend. I do realize it's risky, but our price range is something that could be absorbed by either one of our salaries if necessary. We could afford a more expensive home, but I want to keep our payment relatively low so we can get a decent amount of equity in the home by paying over our mortgage a bit. If I did end up with the house solo, I'd be more comfortable with a roommate, but wouldn't require one.[/quote]

Yeah, small jobs like painting, staining the deck (although that wasn't a small job for me this past weekend, lol), things, like you said, that don't displace you from your home is definitely something that you can deal with. I would say if it was an expensive issue like having to replace the HVAC system right away, I'd either get the seller to knock off the amount of that cost or get them to fix it. And like you said, hopefully the inspection will be detailed enough - it will at least show you if there is anything majorly wrong.

Even if you are under the "due diligence" part of buying a particular home, you still have time to back out if you wind up finding something else that better suits you. My wife and I were under contract with a house, but our realtor had mentioned another house that was close to where her parents lived. We loved that house so much more, we wound up backing out of the first contract and buying this house.

Sounds like you got a good head on your shoulders with this! I like that you're thinking in terms of building equity. I know a lot of young couples start off just wanting to get the most they can get by stretching themselves the most they can stretch. It can get pretty stressful!

skinsguy 07-10-2014 10:13 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=Mattyk;1075392]Believe me I speak from experience on this one. As far as hiring someone for renovations just make sure you do some homework. Either use someone that comes [U]highly recommended[/U] from someone you know and trust, or make sure you screen them really well.

Ask for references and a portfolio of their past work. Get multiple quotes if need be, and if you don't feel right at any point during the renovation, don't be afraid to step in and say something. Get everything in writing and be wary of someone who will only take cash. For small jobs it's ok, but for major work you want a paper trail.[/quote]

This is very good advice!

Daseal 08-04-2014 10:34 PM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[IMG]https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSbvzk4HosghGqU-vf2Md7b6BmL5_qSvvcbh9lyVQfKKebYppOF92Oivmt7[/IMG]

So, we're set to close on August 22nd. It went pretty smoothly. We found a place we both liked a lot but will have to redo the floors and new kitchen appliances. They put down some laminate floor that cost 57 cents a square foot that we have to strip out. It's like walking on plastic grocery bags.

So, the only real remaining issues we have are:

1) Home Insurance. Any type of coverage we should make sure we have? What's important in these policies?
2) Closing questions. Those of you that have been there before. Anything we should prepare for on closing day? Should we bring a lawyer or have a lawyer review the documents?

Thanks for the help guys, as always you've been extremely helpful!

Chico23231 08-05-2014 09:53 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
[quote=Daseal;1076764][IMG]https://encrypted-tbn1.gstatic.com/images?q=tbn:ANd9GcSbvzk4HosghGqU-vf2Md7b6BmL5_qSvvcbh9lyVQfKKebYppOF92Oivmt7[/IMG]

So, we're set to close on August 22nd. It went pretty smoothly. We found a place we both liked a lot but will have to redo the floors and new kitchen appliances. They put down some laminate floor that cost 57 cents a square foot that we have to strip out. It's like walking on plastic grocery bags.

So, the only real remaining issues we have are:

1) Home Insurance. Any type of coverage we should make sure we have? What's important in these policies?
2) Closing questions. Those of you that have been there before. Anything we should prepare for on closing day? Should we bring a lawyer or have a lawyer review the documents?

Thanks for the help guys, as always you've been extremely helpful![/quote]

I dont think i had a lawyer and for HOI I would look at who you have your car insurance with and see if there is a discount for having both together, I have Travelers and have a nice rate for both. Insurance shouldnt be much.

mredskins 08-05-2014 10:49 AM

Re: First Time Homebuyer
 
Your mortgage broker is your Allie at closing (assuming you picked him/her). You should also pick your title company. Don't let the sellers pick them for you.


I have even heard stories where the sellers pick the home inspector!!! That is fawking crazy.


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