Are you thinking about moving to the beautiful and historic state of Virginia? Compared to other states on the east coast, Virginia is family-friendly and a relatively affordable place to call home. While it might cost more than states in the South, Virginia is only 3% higher than the national average. This state is known for the outdoors, so you have everything to explore from beaches, forests, parks, lakes, and everything in between.
As we mentioned, there are so many fun places to explore, but here are some of the top places to visit in Virginia: Shenandoah National Park, George Washington Mount Vernon, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, Luray Caverns, Kings Dominion, Great Falls Park, and Monticello.
The climate in Virginia is subtropical, hot, and humid during the summer, while brisk and mild temperatures during the winter. You can expect plenty of rain during the year, so don’t forget your rain boots and coat.
While there is an endless list of safe areas to settle down in Virginia, here are some of the largest cities.
As you go through the house hunting process, we understand that it is intimidating, especially if it’s your first time. It might feel overwhelming, but following this ultimate guide, you will have everything you need to know about purchasing a home in Virginia.
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The Steps To Buying A House In Virginia
When you work with a professional real estate agent and a top-rated loan officer, purchasing a home in Virginia will be seamless. Here is an ultimate guide with the top-recommended steps to help ease your stress during this process.
How Much Does It Cost To Buy A House In Virginia?
While it might feel intimidating to purchase your first real estate property, it’s not as difficult as it might seem. Buying a home is a commitment, requiring proper planning and budgeting according to what you can comfortably afford. Your budget is more than looking at property taxes, homeowners insurance, and maintenance. It’s taking into account other areas such as food, health care, gas, and electricity and combining the two to get a proper idea of how much you can afford.
To help you figure out a good starting point, you will want to utilize an affordability calculator. First, we’re going to break down an example. Let’s say you’re a single adult making $70,000, and you currently have a monthly debt totaling $500 for your car and student loans.
- Downpayment: $20,000
- Debt-to-income ratio: 30%
- Interest Rate: 4.863%
- Loan Term: 360 months (30 years)
- Property Tax: 1.2%
- Home Insurance: 1,200 per year
Based on the information above, you can afford a house price of $185,302, which comes to a monthly payment of $1,240. Obviously, if you increase your down payment percentage, don’t have debt, or make a higher amount per year, that will increase the total amount you can afford.
You don’t want your debt-to-income ratio to be higher than 36%, but ideally, it will be lower. You don’t want more than 28% going towards the Principle, Interest, Taxes & Insurance (PITI).
Each year, on average, homeowners throughout the United States pay around $10,000 in unexpected expenses, so you need to keep that in mind before purchasing a place. Here are some examples of what you should budget for when it comes to unexpected costs:
- Closing costs: You can expect to pay between $6,740-$8,961 based on the price of the purchased home
- Homeowner’s insurance: The median price for homeowners insurance for a $250,000 dwelling is $1,013 per year.
- Utilities: On average, you can expect to pay around $392 per month.
- Property Taxes: In Virginia, the property taxes come from the individual cities and counties. Here is an interactive map for the state of Virginia. For your convenience, let’s use Richmond, VA, as an example. The real estate tax rate is $1.20 per $100 assessed value.
In Virginia, the median home price is $436,500. On average, homes stay on the market for 14 days before selling. To help you narrow down where to consider purchasing a home, here are some of the most competitive areas in Virginia on the market right now and their median home price:
- Bon Air: $358,000
- Brandermill: $385,000
- Countryside: $656,000
- Woodlake: $445,000
- Franklin Farm: $855,444
- Gainesville: $610,142
- Lakeside: $290,000
- Meadowbrook: $315,000
- Richmond: $350,000
What Is Needed To Qualify For A Mortgage In Virginia?
Make sure you get preapproved before starting your home buying process because you will increase your chances of your offer getting accepted by the seller. It’s also essential to look at the variety of loan types and find the one that will work well for you and your lifestyle. Here are the three most common loan types include: conventional (Frannie Mae or Freddie Mac), an adjustable-rate mortgage in which your payments can differ based on the current interest rate, and fixed-rate mortgages, where your monthly bill will stay the same throughout your entire mortgage loan.
If you are a first time home buyer, you might qualify for a home buying assistance program. These are the most common homebuyer assistance options that are solely found throughout the state of Virginia.
The beauty of the down payment assistance grant is that you don’t need to repay it, plus you can combine it with the Mortgage Credit Certificate.
Here are the requirements to qualify for this grant:
- Must be a first-time home buyer
- Get an FHA or Conventional loan
- Meet the income limits for Virginia
- Stay within Virginia loan limits/housing sales price
The Mortgage Credit Certificate helps people in the lower-income bracket to still be able to afford to purchase a home. It gives you a tax credit to claim during that tax year and gets applied to your Federal tax liability.
To qualify, you must be within the income bracket. Click here to find out more about the income limits.
Virginia is on a mission to help disabled veterans to be able to afford to purchase a home. The grant is through a partnership with the Virginia Department of Veteran Services and the department of Virginia Housing.
You qualify for a grant up to the value of $8,000 if you are a service member or veteran injured in the line of duty, resulting in a disability.
Some universal first-time homebuyer loans are available throughout the United States, which include: USDA, FHA, and Veterans.
If you’re interested in speeding up the process, there are some small steps you can take today before sending in your offers. When you get pre-approved by a bank for a mortgage loan, you can increase your chances of getting your offer accepted by the homeowner and speed up the process.
It’s essential to note that there is a difference between pre-approval and pre-qualification. When you are pre-qualified, it gives you an idea about how much of a house you can afford. Whereas when you are pre-approved, you have the documentation from the lender that you got approved to spend a certain amount–making you a valuable candidate in the eyes of the seller. To get pre-approved, the lender will look at your credit, check the percentage of your down payment, and look at your overall income compared to debt to ensure you’re not over a certain threshold for your monthly expenses.
A way to calculate whether or not you can afford a house price before going to your local bank is the 28/36 rule–meaning that your housing obligations (PITI) aren’t higher than 28% of your income, and your total expenses are 36% of your take-home pay. This rule of thumb helps a lender to determine how much you can afford, and if you can get approved for the desired loan amount.
Find A Virginia Real Estate Agent
Finding the right real estate agent might seem intimidating, especially if you don’t have any recommendations from friends or relatives, but trust us, it’s easier than you might think. We recommend that you find a buyer’s agent because they will be by your side throughout the entire process when you’re purchasing a home.
Some of the benefits of choosing a buyer’s agent are that they are your representation throughout the entire process, will help answer your questions, and make this home buying experience seamless while helping you avoid common first-time home buyer mistakes.
To help you narrow your search, here are the best Virginia real estate agents. It’s organized by city, so based on where you want to live, you can find the top-rated agents wherever you go.
Go Virginia House Hunting
Now it’s time for the fun part, house hunting in Virginia! To start, we recommend you create a list of your must-haves, nice-to-haves, and optional features. By doing this, you can quickly create a list of homes to check out and even narrow down the cities that don’t have any homes matching your desires.
Let’s say you want a home with a contemporary design big enough to host family get-togethers, close to a good school for your kids, and have an enclosed yard for your dogs to run around.
Some of the top-rated cities in Virginia where people are looking to purchase a house along with the average prices include:
- Alexandria | Ranked 2nd safest city within the USA: $624,900
- Arlington | Family-friendly: $640,000
- Leesburg | One of the best places to live in Virginia: $681,278
- Chantilly | Top-rated city: $699,000
- Vienna | Some of the best schools: $1,797,00
- Centreville | Suburban feel: $575,000
- Springfield | Low crime rate: $642,500
- Fredericksburg | Plenty of outdoor activities: $464,950
There is a wide variety of locations to choose from when finding a place to live in Virginia. In addition to what you want in a home, write some of the community aspects you would like. These can include the city being safe, family-friendly, good schools, delicious food, and low crime.
Submit An Offer
You found your dream home, congratulations! The first step is to put an offer on the house, and your agent can help you through the steps while coming up with a strategy that will make you stand out compared to the competition. Based on the market and comparable sales, they will help you decide on an offer price.
Don’t be caught off guard if the seller makes a counteroffer to request a higher offer or fewer contingencies. Also, it’s common for negotiations to take place back and forth, but if everything goes as planned and your offer is the one the seller chooses, you will receive a purchase agreement. After both parties sign this agreement, you will then go under contract.
Before the final day of escrow, you will need to get an appraisal and inspection done on the house so that if something undisclosed was seriously wrong with the home, you have the opportunity to back out of the offer.
Once these steps are completed, and you decide to continue with the deal, it’s time to finalize your mortgage!
Close On Your New Virginia Home
It’s almost time to get your keys! After your offer is approved, you are waiting on the lender to finalize everything for your mortgage. You can expect the process to take between 60 to 90 days between the signed offer and the closing date. As we mentioned above, you need to get an appraisal and inspection before it can be final.
When this process is complete, you will meet with your real estate agent once more to sign the final documents, transfer the ownership agreement along with the funds, and officially get handed the keys to your new home.
Now that you own your home, it’s time to move your belongings into your beautiful new space! On The Fly Moving Guys are a full-service, professional, dependable, #1 Virginia movers. Call us at (804) 836-4954 to receive a free estimate!