Neighborhood Expert: Top 3 things you should do before buying a home in 2022

Laura Schwartz is a licensed Realtor in VA, D.C. and MD with McEnearney Associates in Vienna. You can follow Laura on Instagram at @LauraSchwartzRealtor or her Facebook page. Laura can be reached at 703-283-6120 or [email protected].

Did you put “a new home” on your gift wish list? Maybe you’re making cookies and realizing how much you hate your current kitchen? Maybe you wish you had more rooms so more family could visit? Or maybe you want an excuse to downsize so you don’t have to host anymore?

Either way, everyone has different reasons and needs for moving. If you are thinking of moving next year in 2022, please keep these 3 things you should be doing right now in mind.

1. Talk to a Lender

Budget and financing is the driver of all things. Do you need to sell your current home to buy? Can you afford to buy and sell after? That information is crucial in determining how to position you for the most success. The Northern Virginia market is still going strong and I doubt we’ll see any contingent sale contracts pushed through. Here are my top people:

2. Interview Realtors

You might be surprised to learn that a lot of people interview agents 6 months ahead of their “go” time. Here’s why: you might not know yet what you don’t know. Did you know it took on average 8 weeks last year for someone to go under contract on a house? Plus 30 days to close, more if the sellers need a rentback option, which brings you close to 3-4 months to actually moving day. I always suggest starting early whether you’re planning on selling or buying, or both. From the sell side: maybe you need a lot of time to prep, maybe you don’t. Maybe you need to be agile in case the market shifts and list your home for sale sooner than you planned in order to take advantage of the best market.

For buying, I think it takes some time to learn where you really want to be, especially if you’re not familiar with all the options. I have a lot of clients who look in multiple area: Vienna, Oakton, Falls Church, McLean and Arlington. It’s important to learn what your money will buy you in each location. Do you want septic or well? Do you want to build? Do you want to renovate? All of that understanding takes time. Get your ducks in a row so you’re ready to jump on something when you see it.

3. Make Your Wish List

Write down what you hate. Write down what you love. Write down what you wish you had. I bring people back to basics all the time. Especially in a market where you get tired of looking, I want to bring you back to our initial meeting and say “hey, remember when you said you really wanted XYZ. This house doesn’t have that.” It’ll keep you from having buyers remorse later. It’ll also help me guide you when we see something with potential. I’ve personally gone through 2 renovations and built a home. I might not be a structural engineer, but I can help you see the vision of what a home could be. If you need some guidance, HUD actually has a pretty good checklist to get you started.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season. Hope you’re safe and healthy heading into 2022. I plan to do a 2022 real estate market predictions next week and then a 2021 year in review in January. If you have specific questions to your own situation, please don’t hesitate to reach out: [email protected] or 703-283-6120.

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