Dreaming of a House of Your Own?

Call Susan Galloway, Coldwell Banker Traditions

Searching for a new home? Do you know what questions to ask?

  • Is the information you get on your own accurate and up to date? (The housing marketplace changes quickly.)
  • Are the homes you see online available? (Maybe ... how do you know?)
  • How long will it take? (New home or resale home)
  • Are there hidden costs?
  • How do you shop for a new home here, while you are there?
  • Do you know the current market well enough to price your existing home and coordinate the timing of its sale on your own?

How do you evaluate the answers?

What your Buyer's Agent can do for you:

Your Buyer's Agent can be most valuable to you in terms of saving time, preventing costly mistakes and getting what you want in a new home. As your Buyer's Agent, Susan can help you with every aspect: negotiating your price and terms, estimating the time frame you can expect to move into your new house, and helping to orchestrate your move.

Personal attention -- Professional service

Susan offers a powerful combination of expertise in the real estate buying experience, up-to-date training in buyer representation (buyer agency,) years of experience working with e-buyers, first time buyers, a history of assisting buyers with new home/new construction purchases, individualized service, and familiarity with all of Hampton Roads...valuable assets to you!

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Financing is probably the largest hurdle in the process of purchasing a home. Please contact me if you need area real estate tax rates; your mortgage payment will also have to include the estimated monthly amount for taxes, and for hazard insurance.

Mortgage Payment Calculator.Mortgage calculators will give you some idea of payment but for more specific information and options, available loan programs, quick prequalification with an experienced mortgage lender will help you learn about financing options and price ranges to meet your requirements.

You can get an estimate on hazard insurance from your insurance company. Take the yearly tax amount and insurance amount, divide by twelve, and add these to your P&I payment; that will give you a pretty good idea what monthly payment to expect. Property owners' association dues are typically figured into your monthly ability to pay, but are not billed from mortgage escrow...you are typcially billed separately by your association. Questions?

Writing a contract for purchase and applying for a loan can be a stressful experience. Loan programs and underwriting guidelines change frequently, have become stricter, and can cause unforseen delays for the uninitiated! It's just smart to line up your financing and get proper counseling up front. When you are pre-qualified for a mortgage, you are in a stronger negotiating position because this tells the seller two things:

  • You are serious enough about the purchase to have taken the trouble to start the financing process up front.
  • The seller is assured that the offer can be accepted and the house can be taken off the market with confidence because you have the means to buy it.

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Buying new construction:

Chesapeake new home

New homes typically require an average of six to twelve months to build in this area. The time frame depends on the time of year, weather, availability of contractors, and building permit hoops to jump through. Timing also depends on whether the home you choose to buy new is partially already built (spec home) and is one to three months from finishing, or whether it is a custom home built from ground up, and many other variables. Builders typically do not accept contracts for purchase with a contingency to sell your home first unless your home is on the market for sale. There is usually a “kick-out” clause giving the builder the right to ask you to remove your contingency or they will cancel your contract and award the sale to a non-contingent buyer. This is less likely to affect you in a new home community with many lots available. If the builder is down to the last few lots, you could find yourself “kicked out” more easily. Questions?

Chesapeake new constructionDock Landing Chesapeake Western BranchThis one came out of the ground in Chesapeake a few years ago; I helped a military family "PCS'ing" from Ramstein...They took one advance scouting trip; we found the right location after investigating several new homes sites. I coordinated this transaction after that, long distance! I've done this several times, and sometimes it means helping choose options if/when what you chose becomes unavailable, and if you have returned to your current home, then you are unavailable to make an alternate choice. In this case, the builder chooses, normally, but I have stepped in and taken pictures and conferred with my clients to help ease the stress of ending up with a carpet, for instance, that doesn't coordinate well with your other choices! (Word to the wise...when making the flooring, cabinet, and other choices, make two so everyone knows your alternates!)

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Why would you need an agent when buying a new home?


Hire your own agentDon't gamble! Real estate professionals work in this business every day; they know the market, and they are familiar with the process of buying a home. They go into many houses; they are familiar with the market because of their frequent exposure to areas, and they go through the process from start to finish many times with buyers and sellers, because it is their livelihood. Liken it to the familiarity you experience with all aspects of your job because you show up and do that job every day. Without this experience, it can be (and often is) overwhelming to search out and locate the home on your own that best suits your needs. An agent you build trust with can help you stay on track, and can help you gather the information you need to make the best home-buying decision for you.  An agent of your own, who works in your best interests, will help you through the home buying process in some important ways, including:

  • Spending time initially with you, asking questions about your lifestyle, what is important to you in a home. Your buyer's agent will guide you as you decide what you want to spend on your home, after providing information about the current prices of homes that fit your preferences. And, your agent should listen to your answers! This is one of the largest, most important decisions you will make, and it is your agent's job to help empower you to locate and purchase a home that suits your needs. The seller's or builder's agent is not going to do this, and is not obligated to.

  • Guiding you to gather enough information to arrange your financing. There is change in the real estate market in this area, and prices of new homes and existing or resale homes alike have adjusted. You need to be prepared to not only know how much mortgage you can obtain, but to have in your mind any additional funds you might need to bargain with to get an offer accepted. If you must buy now, you must be prepared to work in a market that is in many cases made up of negative home equity, short sales, and foreclosures. Having a buyer agent on your side to guide your negotiations can help keep you focused and ready to act on the home you want when you find it. In a market where homes are selling for less than what is owed on them is common, your agent will help you determine the likelihood of the home holding its value over time. Your buyer agent will help you determine how to arrange your offer, and help you determine how to prepare yourself to finance it should your offer be accepted. In today's market, it is not only up to the seller, but in the case of a short sale, it is also up to their mortgage holder! Questions?

  • Representing you in purchasing your new home. Representation is an important issue, and as friendly as the seller’s or builder’s agents can be, they are working in the best interest of the seller (builder.) That is appropriate. But who is representing you? Their job, rightly, is to sell a particular home, and to treat you honestly, but it is not their job to advise you about your alternatives. Nor is it their job to allow you to keep adding to or changing your mind once you are under contract. Many builders, rightly so, have policy in place that poses stiff charges for changes to the choices you make in your original agreement, and there is a cutoff point where changes cannot and will not be made. The builders' agents are not obligated to advise you of these things up front.

In exchange for the efforts of your agent, you will be asked for your understanding of how compensation for that agent happens, and you will be asked for a commitment to the time and effort of that agent. Discover how these relationships work, and realize the mutual advantage of working with your own agent.

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What if...
  • interest rates jump up during the delay, or you lose your lock-in on your rate?
  • you are moving here and find you need temporary quarters for an extended time?
  • you already live in the area, have sold your own home and have to move, only to find out your new home will not be finished on time?

A seller’s or builder's agent, rightly so, will paint a picture that will sell you that home. A buyer agent’s allegiance is to the buyer, not to a particular property or seller. Your own agent will present choices for you to consider.

Susan GallowayColdwell Banker Traditions is located and licensed in Newport News, Virginia, 23606. Office hours by appointment.

Cell: 757-718-9085
Email: susan@susangalloway.com Realtor