You've found a home that's right for you, and are ready to take the next step.
Please take the time to review
Virginia's standard 10-page contract (and the 5-page addendum). If you find
it overwhelming to read each paragraph, ask your realtor to summarize what each
paragraph means. There are too many important issues to mention here, and each
situation is different, but listed below are some of the common issues you may
need to consider:
- What date will work for YOU to settle on your new home? Remember, you need
to have time for your loan to be approved; your loan officer should be able
to give you a realistic timeframe.
- Do you want to schedule a home inspection? How many days will you need to
have the inspection done and receive the report? Is radon, mold or lead testing
part of your home inspection?
- The settlement agency you will use is stated in the contract. You may want
to check with them to find out their standard settlement charges (especially
title insurance, since that is one of the largest expenses).
- Please take some time to clearly list the items in the house that you expect
to convey (curtains; fireplace screens or tools; the mirror that hangs over
the bathroom sink that looks permanent, but is the owner's grandmother's;
ceiling fans; basement refrigerator; washer and dryer; shed; hot tub; playground
equipment; decorative garden accents; ...
- How much do you want to deposit as earnest money? There is no set rate,
but a good deposit is typically between 1-3% depending on how strong a contract
you would like to present. Remember, you need to write a check when you sign
your offer so that your agent can show you are making your offer in good faith.
When the contract is ratified (meaning both parties have signed the final
version of the contract AND delivered copies to both parties), your check
will be cashed and deposited into your agent-broker's escrow account.
- If it's a buyer's market, you may want to ask for extras like money towards
closing costs, additional items to convey or the community pool membership
to be thrown in. However, in a seller's market you might sweeten the deal
with a free rent-back for the seller, more earnest money or a personal letter
explaining why you love the house. Be creative, you can write anything (legal)
into the contract.