Our experience in owning a dream home is not by the size or color of the home, it’s the way it feels when you step inside. Owning a home is one of life’s greatest rewards, whether you are moving down the street or relocating, we have the local expertise and resources to help you find the perfect home or condo for you and your family. We work closely with our clients to understand your real estate needs and goals to help you find the best home at the best possible price.
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How much home can I afford
What can I afford?
Know what you can afford is the first rule of home buying, and that depends on how much income and how much debt you have. In general, lenders don’t want borrowers to spend more than 28 percent of their gross income per month on a mortgage payment or more than 36 percent on debts. It pays to check with several lenders before you start searching for a home. Most will be happy to roughly calculate what you can afford and prequalify you for a loan. The price you can afford to pay for a home will depend on six factors:
- gross income
- the amount of cash you have available for the down payment, closing costs and cash reserves required by the lender
- your outstanding debts
- your credit history
- the type of mortgage you select
- current interest rates
Another number lenders use to evaluate how much you can afford is the housing expense-to-income ratio. It is determined by calculating your projected monthly housing expense, which consists of the principal and interest payment on your new home loan, property taxes and hazard insurance (or PITI as it is known). If you have to pay monthly homeowners association dues and/or private mortgage insurance, this also will be added to your PITI. This ratio should fall between 28 to 33 percent, although some lenders will go higher under certain circumstances. Your total debt-to-income ratio should be in the 34 to 38 percent range.
Owning a home is a great investment and it is key to plan your mortgage payments ahead of time. Calculate your monthly mortgage using our free calculator below.
DISCLAIMER: The information found in these calculators are to be used as a guide and is deemed reliable but not guaranteed. Please schedule an appointment today to find out more information about your loan.
The Buying Process
PRE-QUALIFICATION – Before looking at homes, you should find out from a lender what you can afford. This helps focus your home search and, when seeing homes, lets the seller know that you are a real buyer prospect, not just viewing homes without intent to buy.
FIND A REALTOR®- You might already have a REALTOR®, or you may choose to interview one or more. In Virginia you must also sign a Buyer-Brokerage Agreement when you begin working with a REALTOR®.
EXPECTATIONS – Meet with your REALTOR® and discuss what you expect in the homefinding experience. The REALTOR® should let you know what he/she will do for you as well.
REQUIREMENTS – Determine your required criteria for a home and share it with your REALTOR® to begin looking online.
HOME SEARCH – Decide on homes to view and your REALTOR® will make appointments for you to see them.
OFFER – Once you have found your desired home, have your REALTOR® draw up and submit a sales contract to the seller along with an earnest money deposit. This money is deposited into an escrow account by the broker until closing. Your earnest money deposit will be applied toward your down payment at closing.
NEGOTIATION – At this point the seller may make a counter-offer, in which case you have a chance to negotiate terms, or they may turn down the offer.
ACCEPTANCE – If the seller accepts and signs the offer within the specified time on the contract, you have a ratified contract!
LOAN APPLICATION – Next you will need to make application to a lending institution for a mortgage, generally within 2 weeks of the contract (unless you are paying cash, in which case you would provide proof of funds with the contract above). Be prepared to submit complete financial statements of your assets and liabilities, bank statements, verification of employment and income information. The lender will have the property appraised (usually $450 or so).
INSPECTIONS – Your purchase contract provides for inspections of the property within a stated time frame. We generally recommend a whole house inspection, and by property may recommend others such as roof, chimney, and radon – all of these are at your expense. Termite and sewer inspections, if applicable, are the responsibility of the seller.
ADDENDA NEGOTIATION – After reviewing inspections with you, your REALTOR® will submit any requests for repairs or a credit in lieu of repairs to the sellers within the time period shown on the contract for inspections. Another period of negotiation may occur at this time.
CLOSING ATTORNEY – A real estate attorney, or title company, will need to be engaged to examine the title, order title insurance, and a property survey (if required), coordinate closing documents with your lender and perform the closing.
UTILITIES – Notify utility companies servicing the new home to have them transferred to your name effective the day of closing.
WALK THROUGH – Plan to “walk through” the property with your REALTOR® prior to closing (usually the day before or the morning of closing) to inspect it before gaining title.
CLOSING & POSSESSION – The closing is usually held at your attorney’s office and possession of your new home is typically at time of settlement, unless otherwise provided for in the purchase contract.
Two Months Prior to Moving Day:
- If you are using a mover, get a few estimates from moving companies.
- If you are moving yourself, get costs from at least two truck rental companies.
- Create a floor plan of your new home for furniture and appliance placement.
- Make an inventory of your household goods and begin to remove clutter (start with basement, attic, garage, and other storage areas).
- Start a file for all of your moving paperwork (estimates, recipes, etc.)
- Arrange to transfer school records.
Six Weeks Prior to Moving Day:
- Obtain all fill out post office change of address cards. Also you may do this online at: https://moversguide.usps.com
- Make arrangements for storage if necessary.
- Ask your doctor or health plan provider for referrals, and obtain all medical records.
- Clean all closets and drawers.
- Start using foods and cleaning supplies that won’t be moved.
Four Weeks Prior to Moving Day:
- Schedule disconnection of all utility services at your old home through the date of closing.
- If you are moving yourself, reserve a rental truck.
- If you are packing yourself, obtain packing materials and start packing items you won’t need after you arrive at your new home.
- Arrange for cleaning and repair of furniture, drapes and carpeting.
- Check with your insurance company to see how your possessions are covered during transit.
Three Weeks Prior to Moving Day:
- Properly dispose of items that cannot be moved, such as flammable liquids.
- Prepare auto registration for transfer (if moving to another state)
- Make child-care arrangements for moving day.
- Hold your moving sale.
Two Weeks Prior to Moving Day:
- Arrange for disposal of anything not sold at your moving sale.
- Return any borrowed items (including library books) and retried any loaned items.
- Cancel newspaper delivery.
- Notify any creditors of your move.
- Transfer prescriptions and be sure you have an adequate supply of medications on hand.
- Assemble a file folder of information to leave for the new owner of your home.
- Change your address—One week before your move, send change-of-address cards to everyone who will need to contact you.
- Pick up laundry.
- Pack a travel kit: Put aside critical items like a checkbook, credit cards, personal phone book, ID, flashlight, keys, toiletries, tools, paper plates, cups, towers, travel alarm clock, aspirin, bandages and games for the kids. Also pack a suitcase with clothing an other personal items.
- If you haven’t already, Schedule disconnection/connection of all utility services at your old home through the date of closing.
One Day Prior to Moving Day:
- Disconnect and prepare major appliances for the move.
- Set aside anything that will travel in your car so it will not be loaded in the truck.
- Pack a box of items that will be needed first at the new house. Clearly mark this box “Load Last”.
- Obtain cash or traveler’s checks for the trip and to pay the movers.
- Confirm arrival time of your moving van/truck.
- If moving yourself, dismantle beds and other large furniture.
- If using a mover, be sure someone is at the old house to answer questions.
- Read your bill of lading and inventory carefully before signing. Keep this paperwork in a safe place.
- Check your belongings carefully and note on the inventory paperwork any damaged items.
- On an interstate move, be prepared to pay the driver before your possessions are unloaded.