Each year, many people discover and fall in love with Virginia’s majestic mountains, beautiful farmlands, and stunning beaches. With its rich history, thriving economy, and top-tier colleges and universities, it’s an ideal place to buy a home and raise a family.
Being handed the keys to your first home in Virginia is a moment you’ll likely never forget. It’s a moment to celebrate. But before you can sign on the dotted line to take possession of your new home, you’ll need to complete the home buying process.
We’ll cover the steps involved with buying a home in Virginia and also tell you about some helpful first-time home buyer programs.
Steps to Buy a Home in Virginia
1. Get pre-approved
Before you can start searching for the perfect home in Virginia, you want to talk to a loan officer at your credit union about getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Pre-approval means that your financial information has been reviewed, and you know how much your credit union will loan you.
It’s essential to keep in mind that pre-approval is not a guarantee that you will be granted a loan. Pre-approval starts the loan application process, and the full loan process may take up to 45 days to complete.
2. Find a Real Estate Agent
Real estate agents are professionals who facilitate the buying and selling of homes. Working with an agent can help you save money, and it also simplifies the process. An agent can help you submit a competitive offer, assist you with negotiations, and prepare for your closing.
An excellent real estate agent will also have insider knowledge of the area you are considering and recommend trustworthy professionals like attorneys, home inspectors, and contractors.
Real estate agents typically earn a commission on the sale of each home transaction they help complete. The commission can vary, but 6% of the sale price is standard.
3. Start the home search
Your real estate agent will show you available homes in the area you would like to live in. You are not obligated to purchase any home you tour, and you should only consider making an offer after viewing all available homes that are within your budget.
Don’t hesitate to ask your real estate agent to look at a home a second or even a third time if necessary. There is no additional cost to view homes that are for sale.
4. Make an offer
Once you have found your dream home in Virginia, it’s time to make an official offer. Your real estate agent will help you determine a fair market offer for the home and will take care of presenting it to the seller.
Although there is no fee to make an offer on a home, you may be required to make an earnest money deposit, which is typically 1-3% of the offer amount. If you complete the transaction and buy the home, the earnest money deposit becomes part of your down payment. However, if you back out of the purchase, you may lose your deposit.
5. Schedule the inspection
The next step in buying a home in Virginia is to schedule an inspection. Be sure to ask your real estate agent to recommend a reputable home inspector to ensure the job is done right.
If the inspector finds any problems or concerns, you can negotiate with the seller to request that they be fixed before closing. According to the National Association of Home Inspectors, the average cost of a home inspection is $300-$500.
6. Close on your new home
If your loan has been approved, the last step in buying a home in Virginia is the closing. Closings are typically handled by attorneys who oversee the seller’s legal transfer of title to the buyer. You will need to sign legal documents to complete the ownership transfer at the closing.
There are costs associated with the closing process. These costs may include:
- Mortgage application fee
- Home appraisal
- Title search
- Mortgage origination fee
- Mortgage insurance
- Title insurance
- Recording fee
- Title transfer tax
- Attorney fee
- Escrow fee
- Other fees
Closing costs average between 2% to 5% of the purchase price. These costs can be paid by either the buyer or the seller, which is a point your agent will help you negotiate. It may also be possible to split the costs with the seller.
First-Time Home Buyer Programs in Virginia
If you will be a first-time homeowner in Virginia and meet specific requirements, you may qualify for a unique and helpful program through Virginia Housing. Available programs include:
Down Payment Assistance Grant (DPA)
This grant provides up to 2.5% of a home’s purchase price to use towards a down payment. One thing to note is that it can only be used with certain types of loans.
Mortgage Credit Certificates (MCC)
MCCs are tax credits you can use to reduce what you owe on your federal taxes. If you qualify for an MCC, you can use it for the life of your loan. The credit is good for 10% of your annual mortgage interest.
Virginia Housing Conventional No Mortgage Insurance
Through this program, first-time Virginia home buyers can make a 3% down payment on a home without being required to have mortgage insurance. When you consider that mortgage insurance ranges from 0.55% to 2.25% of the original loan amount per year, this program can save first-time Virginia home buyers thousands of dollars annually.
Virginia Is for First-Time Home Buyers
You may have heard the tourism slogan “Virginia is for lovers.” That ad campaign has been around for over 50 years, is one of the most successful ads ever initiated by a state. But Virginia is much more than that.
With its friendly southern hospitality, affordable cost of living, and exceptional first-time home buyer programs, Virginia is for everyone. It’s a great place to call home.
If you are thinking about buying a home in Virginia, talk with one of our mortgage officers today.
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