5 Secrets To Buying A Home In Virginia

Laura Rubinchuk
The LJR Group with Keller Williams Realty
Direct: 703.283.6120
Office: 703.636.7300
Website: www.ArlingtonRealEstateNews.com
Email: [email protected]


5 Secrets To Buying A Home In Virginia

  1. Look at houses that are listed without pictures.Many buyers assume a listing with no pictures means something is wrong; gut reactions tell us they’re hiding something. Well, that’s a common thought among both real estate agents and prospective buyers. So many people will cross it off their list simply based on the fact, causing the buyer pool to dwindle. Fewer buyers means less competition, fewer showings causes panic among sellers and will motivate them to accept a lower offer they may not otherwise consider.
  2. Look at houses that have been on the market for a while.About 50% of the inventory of houses for sale goes under contract within the first 30 days. The longer the property sits on the market, the fewer showings it’s going to get. Again, fewer showings motivates sellers to entertain a lower offer.
  3. Ask your agent to do their homework – find houses in pre-foreclosure.Our local Multiple Listings Service (MLS) gives agents access to all of the properties for sale, if they’re represented by an agent. Our MLS also gives agents access to properties in pre-foreclosure or foreclosure status.  This can help with pricing – more foreclosures mean a downward trend in pricing, so you want to price ahead of the market. Pricing ahead means 5% lower than the most recent sale. Or if you’re looking to snag a deal before it hits the market, consider approaching a pre-foreclosure to try to work out a deal to help them sell before they get foreclosed on.
  4. Look for a County or State funded programs to lower your interest rate and/or down-payment.Many counties have programs that highly underpublicized that are available to help with lowering your interest rate, helping with down-payment or purchase power. For example in Arlington County, Virginia, we have the Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) with FHA Plus – down-payment and closing cost assistance, Low Interest Mortgage Program (SPARC), and Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program. All have certain level of income to qualify, but can help reduce your out of pocket expenses.
  5. Look for “Coming Soon” signs.Many times agents will put up a “For Sale – Coming Soon” sign on a new property getting ready to hit the market. Drive around the neighborhoods you like looking for them! Have your agent contact them and arrange a showing, if the sellers are willing to entertain it. Sometimes you can come to an agreement on a ‘win-win’ for both parties without having to battle the rest of the buyers in the market.


First Time Buyer Incentives in the DC Metro Area

Last year, we saw the end of the $8,000 Federal Tax Credit to first-time home-buyers. Many people were sad to see it go, however, you may not realize that there are other incentives available to you if you’re thinking of buying your first home! Here’s a rundown:

Arlington County, VA


Virginia Housing Development Authority (VHDA) with FHA Plus – down-payment and closing cost assistance

  • Borrower(s) must have cash available equal to a minimum of 1% of the sales price.
  • Second mortgage – 3.5% to 5% of sales price.
  • Maximum second mortgage 3.5% for qualified borrowers with a 620 – 679 credit score or 5.0% for qualified borrowers with a 680 or greater credit score. The maximum second mortgage is based on the lower of sales price or appraised value.
  • The 30-year fixed interest rate for the first and second (both VHDA-financed) mortgage is slightly higher than our standard fixed rate programs.


The combined total of the two loans cannot exceed VHDA sales price limits <http://www.vhda.com/Homebuyers/VHDAHomeLoans/Pages/IncomeSalesPriceLoanLimits.aspx>

Low Interest Mortgage Program (SPARC) <http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/housing/housing_info/CPHDHousingHousing_infoSPARC.aspx>

  • Half percentage point below the current standard mortgage rate
  • Loan Limit of $450,000
  • Must be a “first time buyer” defined as applicants who have not owned a home within the past 3 years
  • Cannot exceed these income limits: $97,500 for a family of 1 or 2 and $112,950 for a family of 3 or more.


Moderate Income Purchase Assistance Program <http://www.arlingtonva.us/departments/CPHD/housing/housing_info/CPHDHousingHousing_infoMIPAP.aspx>

  • Provides up to 25% of the purchase price towards the purchase of a home in Arlington.  MIPAP assistance comes in the form of a deferred payment, no interest rate second trust loan.  The MIPAP loan can cover all closing costs not paid by the seller (including pre-pays), up to a maximum of three discount points (to reduce the interest rate on the first trust mortgage), and a portion of the down payment.
  • Must be a “first time buyer” defined as applicants who have not owned a home within the past 3 years
  • Property must be located in Arlington County
  • Maximum purchase price: $362,790
  • Maximum loan amount: $90,700
  • Minimum down payment:  1% of the purchase price




There’s a highly UNDER publicized $5,000 tax credit if you meet the following criteria:

  • Purchase a home on or before December 31, 2011
  • Purchase a home in DC as your principal residence
  • “First-Time” buyer is defined as not owning any other main home in DC during the 1-year prior to your purchase date
  • Tax credit is $5,000 if single, married filling jointly, head of household, or qualifying widow(er) or $2,500 if married but filing separately
  • Other income restrictions and qualifications may apply.



Montgomery County, Maryland

Closing Cost Assistance Program which gives up to $10,000:

  • At least one applicant must WORK in Montgomery County
  • Must purchase a home in Montgomery County to be used as your Principal Residence with a maximum sale price of s $429,619
  • Must be a “first-time buyer” which is defined as not having owned a home in in the previous 3 years
  • The total household income of the applicant may not exceed the current maximum income limits established for the County:
    • One person household: $  82,650
    • Two person:  $118,080
    • Three or more:  $137,760
  • Complete a home buyer education class before you close


State Transfer Tax Elimination: <http://www.montgomerycountymd.gov/cibtmpl.asp?url=/Content/CircuitCourt/Court/RecordingDepartment/RecordingDepartment.asp>

  • Must be a “first-time buyer” which is defined as never having owned property in Maryland
  • Must buy the home as your Principal Residence
  • The State Transfer Tax is normally .50%, to be split equally between buyer and seller; however, in the case of a “First Time Maryland Buyer,” this is reduced to .25% and paid by the seller


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