Tag Archives: buying a home

Buying A Home in Virginia After Retirement

Buying a new home and moving for retirement is something that is pretty common in the United States. It also seems that it is something that almost everybody is doing nowadays. However, this process is something that will take some time and consideration. Buying a home, moving and starting over is exciting. However, it is also a task that you should take seriously. Think about your life now, and how it will change once you retire. What are the pros and cons of relocating? And starting fresh? Yes, starting fresh is possible even at the golden age. You’ve probably never had more money and time at your disposal. Now, you can finally enjoy life to the fullest. And you deserve it. Let us guide you through buying a home in Virginia after retirement process, and help you handle it the best way possible. You don’t only need it, you really do deserve it.

Reasons for buying a new home after retirement

We all have different reasons, however, we all have the main goal in common – we want to make our lives better, every aspect of it. And that is the main reason behind every home buying process. In Virginia, Japan or anywhere else in the world. We just want what’s best for ourselves and our loved ones. Retiring and enjoying your mature age comes with many benefits, and one of them – you will have much more time on your hands. Time to take charge of your life. And that sometimes means changing your surroundings and starting over.

Your family home might have served you for many years, but it’s probably not the right fit for you anymore. It might feel like an empty nest, or it might be too big now when the kids have moved out. Maybe you want to be closer to your grandchildren. We all have our reasons, however, investing in real estate comes with a great deal of work that needs to be done. Our number one advice for you would be to really think through your reasons. Make sure that they are good and reasonable ones.

Gathering the money

Yes, we need to mention and talk about this aspect when having a conversation about buying a home in Virginia after retirement. Your budget. It is real estate, and such investments don’t come cheap. That is why you need to really consider your budget, as well as your wants and needs. What are you looking for? And can you afford it? These two things can also be very different, so make sure you know your budget as well as your limits.

Calculate your budget. Look into your savings. Talk to your loaning manager and ask for some advice. Try to get all the information and advice that you can use to your advantage along the way. And also – don’t depend, but rely on professional assistance. Having someone who knows the real estate business to its core on your team is of crucial importance. Why? You will want to get the most value for your money’s worth. We all do.

Yes, you will want to hire a professional

As we have mentioned before, having a seasoned professional when buying a home in Virginia after retirement is your best option. It will save you some precious time, energy and even money. Hiring realtors or real estate agents sounds more expensive than it is. And their service, on the other hand, is much needed. Even though you might be buying your 10th house this time around, if you are not a real estate professional yourself, you will need some help for sure.

This market changes, without us even noticing. And in order to get as much value for your money, you will definitely need some advice and someone who can lead this whole process. Especially if you are coming from another state. Relocating from one place to another is stressful enough as it is, and moving interstate, well – let’s just say, there will be many things to consider when moving to another state. Let professionals assist you. It is the best thing you can do.

Decide what you’ll do with your current house

You will have to make this call, sooner or later. And even though leaving our old lives behind sounds fun and exciting, leaving all these memories behind as well can be harder than you might have originally expected. That is why you need to think about this move. And we mean – really think. Will you leave your old house to your kids? Or are you going to sell it?

Whatever you choose to do, make sure you do it fast. Letting time pass by won’t help you, and especially if you tend to get nostalgic. Allow yourself to enjoy your new beginning, and say goodbye to your old life. Leaving your old family house behind doesn’t mean you’ll leave all the people you love (or the memories you share with them) behind. It is just a property. And the sooner you start thinking this way, the sooner this process will become enjoyable. And you really want things to go smoothly, trust us on this one.

Set up your criteria

Your new home in Virginia needs to be perfect. It needs to meet your expectations and everything you have dreamt of all these years. Make a list of things that are a must and a list of things that are a no-no. You will have to make a compromise here and there, but there are still some things that are and should stay deal breakers. You deserve the best. And now, you can finally be picky.

Enjoy the process

Your real estate agent will lead the way, and all you have to do is to follow his or her lead. Of course, it is your house and you make all the calls, however, your real estate agent (or realtor) is there to do all the hard work. Buying a home in Virginia after retirement is something that you have waited for for so long. Make sure you enjoy it!

 Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Fredericksburg, Stafford, Orange, Locust Grove, Norther Virginia or even Maryland or DC, we are your Real Estate team committed to finding the perfect home for you! Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by homeowners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar, and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, one of our area expert advisors will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available properties, please visit our website licatagroup.com

Mortgage 101: What To Know Before You Apply

Everybody loves talking about mortgages. They’re fun, easy to understand, and a great icebreaker, right?….Wrong. Thanks to their lengthy process, technical jargon, and confusing options, mortgages have a bit of an intimidating reputation—but it doesn’t have to be that way!

If you’re in the process of buying a new home and dreading the mortgage application process, here’s what you need to know to keep things running smoothly. 

Know How Much You Can Spend

A person holding up money.

If you’re feeling antsy about getting started and want a general idea of how much loan you might qualify for, consider the 28/36 rule, or the Debt-to-Income ratio—AKA what most lenders use to help calculate your mortgage. 

Essentially, the 28/36 rule means that your monthly mortgage payment shouldn’t be more than 28% of your gross income. Additionally, your outstanding debts—like mortgage, car loans, student loans—shouldn’t account for more than 36% of your gross income.

Get Your Finances in Order

Statistics on a laptop.

Not seeing the numbers you were hoping for after calculating your Debt-to-Income ratio? Then, hopefully, you’ve given yourself a little time to shift things in your favor. Paying off loans, improving your credit score, avoiding big purchases—these will all help you change those numbers. 

Of course, completing those tasks is a little harder to do in practice than in theory, so you may have to take a look at your budget and see where you can cut out some extras—at least temporarily!

What You’ll Need to Apply

 

Paperwork.

In the weeks before you plan on applying for a mortgage, you should start collecting all of the documents you need. Since a lender will be telling you exactly how much money they’re willing to loan, they’ll need a comprehensive understanding of your finances beforehand. Start gathering things like:

  • W2s/tax returns
  • Photo ID
  • Your two most recent pay stubs
  • Current and prior addresses
  • Asset information (retirement funds, 401(k), stocks and bonds, other investments) 
  • Gift letters

Depending on the lender you choose, you may need additional documents, so consider calling in to double-check beforehand. 

Find the Right Mortgage

Three women pointing at a laptop.

Once it’s time to start thinking more concretely about applying for a mortgage, you have several options to consider. While all the mortgage options out there could easily fill a whole blog post on their own, here’s a quick rundown to give you a general idea:

  • Conventional/Fixed-rate:  The interest rate of a fixed-rate loan won’t change over time, making it a popular choice for its predictability. Conventional loans typically require a 20% down payment or mortgage insurance for smaller down payments.
  • Adjustable-rate: The interest rate of adjustable-rate mortgage will fluctuate over time, sometimes lower than fixed-rate, sometimes higher. There is a cap in place so the rate doesn’t get too out of control, but ARMs are typically more popular with those who plan to refinance.
  • FHA: If you are struggling to come up with a down payment, you may have options with an FHA mortgage. Provided by the Federal Housing Administration, these loans come with a low down payment requirement and built-in mortgage insurance.
  • USDA: Live in a rural area? Then check out your USDA eligibility! A surprising amount of areas qualify for USDA loans, even if you aren’t living in the countryside. Plus, USDA loans don’t require a down payment and offer lower insurance premiums.

These aren’t the only options you’ll have, just the most common. If none of these sound right or you aren’t sure which to choose, just ask your lender!

Choose the Right Lender

When it comes time to decide who to work with, you’ll have to do your research. Each lender is different, meaning they’ll likely offer you different rates, charges, and loan options. 

Luckily, we’ve been working in real estate around the area for years, so we know exactly which lenders are right for which buyers. If you need a few suggestions before you kick off your search, just let us know! 

Still Have Questions?

That’s okay—we get it. Applying for mortgage is confusing and challenging, especially if it’s your first time. If you have any questions about the process, we’re here to help. 

Ready to start looking at a few homes in your price range? We can help with that, too! Check out our specialized search tool to narrow down your options, and give us a call to start seeing a few in person!

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Guide for Canadians Buying a Property in Virginia

A brick suburban home, representing buying a property in Virginia.

Guide for Canadians buying a property in Virginia

Are you considering going into the Virginia real estate market? While this could turn out to be the investment of your life, you should be careful; buying a piece of real estate is no small feat. This will be a complicated process, during which you will definitely have a lot to do. So, before you make such a purchase, ideally you should consider all the factors; the amount of money you can spend, the features you want from a home, and the best possible neighborhood. But apart from that; as a Canadian who’s buying a property in Virginia; you should also consider the legal practicalities of such a purchase. Don’t worry, though; we’ve got it all covered right here! 

Finding a good real estate agent in Virginia 

It doesn’t matter if you’re moving down the street or if your move is a long-distance one; if you ask us, choosing your new neighborhood and the specific piece of property will be of major importance. And if you want to play this smart, you should contact an experienced local real estate agent. Trust us; a good agent is worth their weight in gold. During the process of buying a property in Virginia, a professional agent will lead you every step of the way. They’ll draft the order you write, and negotiate in your name with any potential sellers. If you hire an agent to take care of the purchase for you, they’ll get a better deal in terms of the smaller details too, such as the house closing costs and the escrow process.  

Hiring a real estate agent 

Apart from handling some of the specifics of buying a property in Virginia, your real estate agent can be of help in other ways as well. Having a professional who knows the real estate trends of the area will be of major use, trust us. And besides; in most cases, working with a real estate agent on buying a home won’t actually cost you a dime. Why? Well, the usual practice is the seller paying the whole commission for the realtor. Typically, that’s around 5% of the sale price for the home, that the seller’s agent and your own agent split between each other. Also, your real estate agent can help with finding other professionals who can provide you with different services in the process of purchasing a home; like home inspectors or mortgage brokers. 

A two-story brick home in Virginia.

If you want a quality home, hire a good realtor!

Naturally, you must be wondering what the best way to select a particular real estate agent is. First and foremost, you want to make sure that your potential agent is licensed; check the registry of the Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation. Apart from that, you want to hear the different reviews on real estate agents, on places like Trulia and Zillow. Trust us, if you choose your real estate agent correctly, and use other professionals prudently, buying a home here can be an extremely pleasant experience.  

Sale disclosures 

As a Canadian who’s buying a property in Virginia, one thing is certain; you’re probably not too familiar with local laws. Even people who’ve lived in Virginia their entire lives aren’t always well-versed in the legalities of home purchases in the area. For example – while you’re searching for the perfect neighborhood in the area, you might want to familiarize yourself with the seller disclosures that the law demands. And just what are these, you ask? Well, these are regulations which obligate home sellers in the state of Virginia to report some types of defects on their properties. The aforementioned Virginia Department of Professional and Occupational Regulation has the details within their Residential Property Disclosure document, but we’ll give you the gist of it here.  

A small blue suburban house.

There are certain issues that a seller must disclose

In essence, there are a few kinds of defects that a seller must disclose during a real estate transaction. First of all, they must tell the buyer if the property is nearby a military air installation. Secondly, they must report any defective drywall. Also, a seller must report if their property was at any point the site of a meth lab, if it hasn’t been cleaned up in accordance with state guidelines. Finally, a seller is obligated to tell the buyer if their home has a septic system that isn’t fully functioning.  

Also, people selling houses which were built before 1978 have an additional piece of compliance to perform. They need to make certain that their house complies with federal regulations on lead-based hazards, and more specifically lead paint.  

Getting a home inspection 

If you were to take a look at seller-disclosure regulations in other states, you’d find that buyers are much more protected. In other words, the list of defects that the sellers have an obligation to report is far larger. But with the disclosure limits here, buying a property in Virginia usually means one thing – hiring someone to do an independent home inspection.  

A suburban home with a driveway and a garage.

If you want to make sure you’re buying a good home, a home inspection is in order

In the process, this outside inspector has to check out an entire host of potential issues. For example, you want them to see if the house is susceptible to any pests or termites. Then, you need to be sure that there are no structural issues, and that the roof and windows stand upon a firm foundation. And finally, there are the drainage and other soil issues, as well as mold or the presence of certain odors.  

Hopefully, any Canadians buying a property in Virginia can find this guide useful. You are surely going to enjoy here. 

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your Real Estate Advisors for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

Saving up for a New Home? Here Are All the Costs You Need to Know

Once you’ve found the perfect home and secured the loan, all that’s left to do is start chipping away at those mortgage payments…right? In actuality, there are a handful of other, often-overlooked expenses that come with buying a home, but as long as you know what you’re getting into, they’re plenty manageable.

Take a look at our comprehensive list of all the costs of buying a home.

One-Time Payments & Closing Costs

A person holding up keys to a house.

Closing Costs

For buyers, closing costs are typically low and range from 2-5% of your purchase price. A lot of these costs are one-time expenses, and totals can vary from state-to-state.

If you want a better idea of what closing costs could be for you, check out this helpful guide on the average payments for each state.

Miscellaneous Fees

There are quite a bit of one-time fees bundled into your closing costs, but most of them are pretty inexpensive. Some of the most common expenses include the home inspection, appraisal, credit report, deed recording, land survey, notary fees, title insurance, and document prep fees.

Recurring Payments

A woman and a child counting coins.

Mortgage Payments

Mortgage payments are the most obvious cost when buying a home. These are your predictable, monthly payments decided by both the final price of your home and your down payment—in addition to a few other bundled costs. A larger down payment means a smaller mortgage payment, and it’s a good idea to pay this off quickly, since it will accumulate interest.

Property Taxes

Property tax payments don’t go towards just one thing—they actually cover quite a bit, like road construction, community maintenance, public works, and local government salaries. The exact amount you’ll pay in property tax is calculated by the county based on your home’s value, and the rates tend to rise and fall over time. Many buyers pay their property taxes through an escrow account set up by the lender.

Homeowner’s Insurance

It’s better to have insurance and not need it than need insurance and not have it, so homeowner’s insurance is pretty crucial to home owning. While it’s almost always required when you get a mortgage and then bundled into your monthly payments, be sure to double-check that you’re covered.

Private Mortgage Insurance

If you can’t afford a 20% down payment on your home, you’ll have to pay PMI as a way to ensure that the lender won’t go under if you default on your loan. You don’t have to pay PMI forever—it ends once you pay off 78% or more of the principal amount—but until then, expect to pay up to 2% of your loan amount annually.

HOA Fees

Moving to a neighborhood with an HOA? Your dues can range anywhere from under a hundred dollars to over a thousand, but they come with perks like landscaping and exterior maintenance, and some even include added benefits like swimming pools and fitness centers. Not all neighborhoods have an HOA, but your agent can tell you what your payments will be if yours does.

Utilities

Lastly, utility fees can come as a surprise to new homeowners who are used to renting. Depending on the size of your home, you can expect to pay a few hundred dollars per month for water, electricity, heating and cooling, and trash services. If you’re curious what your utility bills might look like, just ask your agent, and they can likely secure a few statements from the past owners.

Ready to Make an Offer?

A man and a woman sitting on a couch with a dog and a cat.

When it comes to buying a home, the most important thing you can do is be prepared. While there are a handful of costs to keep in mind, the satisfaction of calling a place your own is well-worth it in the end.

Are you ready to get started on your home-buying journey? With years of professional and local experience, our team knows all about navigating the expenses that come with buying. Give us a call today at (540) 388-2541 to get a better idea of your costs, and let’s get started!

Dan Seiler Introduction & Why You Should Use a Licata Group REALTOR!

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your professionals for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia, we are your proven Real Estate professionals. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.

writing

The Pros & Cons of a Buyer’s Letter: Standing Out in a Busy Market

Imagine, after weeks of searching, that you’ve finally found your dream home. It’s in the perfect location with the right features and exactly the amount of space you need. But after requesting more information, your agent informs you that there are already several offers made on the house. How do you stand out in a busy market and snag your dream home?

When buyers are looking to make a lasting impression on sellers, they often opt to submit a letter to the seller. In fact, a recent study found that buyers who submitted letters were 9% more likely to have their offer accepted.

A Buyer’s Letter can work both with you and against you, so it’s important to understand what they are and when you should use one.

What is a Buyer’s Letter?

A man typing on a laptopA Buyer’s Letter is pretty much what it sounds like — a letter written by the buyer for the seller in order to stand out in a busy market. The letter is your chance to make a case for why you should get the home over other buyers.

Many people opt to write about how they envision their lives in the home, how well they would take care of it, how much owning this specific home would mean to them, and similar sentiments.

You might also use this space to talk yourself up, bringing up steady finances, your down payment, and job security — things geared towards making the seller confident in choosing you.

Advantages of a Buyer’s Letter

A man and a woman shaking handsA Buyer’s Letter sets you apart from the crowd and makes you more than just an offer on a sheet of paper — it allows you to connect with the seller on a personal level. In a constantly growing and changing market, being able to stand out or connect puts you a big step ahead of other buyers.

Is the home close to a golf course? Does the seller have bikes in their garage? Are there signs of pets in the home? If you notice you have common interests, including them in the Buyer’s Letter can elevate your standing.

When you choose to forgo a Buyer’s Letter, you miss out on the chance to advocate for yourself, which can go a long way in the seller’s final decision.

Disadvantages of a Buyer’s Letter

A woman writing in a notebook. While there are plenty of pros to using a Buyer’s Letter, there are also pitfalls to consider. Making your case is great, but it does give the seller leverage. If you really love the house as much as you say, then what’s to stop the seller from raising the asking price?

Maybe the seller accepts your offer, and you move to the home inspection stage. If issues turn up, then the seller might refuse to make costly repairs, assuming that you’ll buy the house no matter what.

Another unexpected con of a buyer’s letter? It can be tricky for sellers to navigate around discrimination issues. If a seller picks a buyer of a certain race, religion, gender, or family status instead of another, they could face backlash. Be aware of this when writing your letter so as to not put the seller in an uncomfortable position.

Need Help Standing Out?

If you’re kicking off the home-buying process and need help standing out, we’ve got you covered. Get in touch with us today, and we’ll help you secure your dream home, and answer any and all of your questions in the process.

Whether you’re looking for homes for sale in Lake of the Woods VA or Waterfront property in Virginia we are your professionals for Stafford, Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Locust Grove, Central Virginia, and Greater Virginia, we are your proven Real Estate professionals. Thinking of selling? In any market condition, “what is my home worth?” is the #1 question asked by home owners. If you wish to sell your home, it needs to be sold for top dollar and in a timely manner. Pricing your home accurately, Pat will partner with you to make the selling process so much easier. Get started today by calling us at (540) 388-2541 or contact Pat Licata.

To see available Lake of the Woods properties, please visit our site.