Frequently Asked Real Estate Questions

House Selling FAQs

It is never too early to talk with a professional. A good real estate consultant can help you navigate what repairs to make, the current market conditions, timing your sale and answer any questions you have. An analysis of your home is free. 

De-cluttering and staging, curb appeal, maintenance items you have put off is a great place to start. As far as what updates to do, or if you should update at all, that depends on the market and also how updated other homes that have sold in your neighborhood.

Yes, agents with experience in these situations can help.  They will help by telling you whether selling as-is, selling to a developer or fixing the home up to sell makes the most sense. There are many programs available that allow you to get renovations and pay at closing.

Yes, if you need to sell immediately the right real estate agent can help you. Modern real estate agents can connect you with the right investors, buyers or even iBuyer, depending on the condition of your home. You can profit more than selling to one investor who has contacted you.

Your house can be listed in a matter of hours. However, the preparation can take time so it is good to plan ahead. For example, getting a photographer scheduled  to take photos and edit photos usually takes 24-48 hours. And properly preparing the house can take considerably longer.

You may be able to sell your home and get the remainder of the debt forgiven if you have a hardship, with your lender’s approval. This process is called a “short sale”. A short sale will affect your credit, but is slightly better than foreclosure.

Yes. You can sign all necessary documents online with email, mail a key and then everything else can be taken care of with you out of state or even out of country. For closing documents you can find a notary close to you, or in some cases use an e-notary.

Yes. However a tenant can affect how the home shows which can in turn affect your net sale. If the lease has time left on it, you may only be able to sell to an investor. Waiting until the tenant is out and preparing your house can maximize your profit. 

You will pay your listing agent and also likely will offer a commission when putting a home in the MLS to the buyer’s agent.  Aside from brokerage commissions, the average is about 1% additional of the sales price for title fees, taxes and other fees. But it will vary. 

Typical listing agreements last 3-6 months, but it varies based on your area. Different brokers and agents have different policies on cancelling. The most flexible is to cancel anytime without penalty, while others have cancellation fees or will not allow you to cancel.

From the time you list the property, 60-75 days is average to close. But there are many outliers when selling. Some properties will list and close within 10 days. Other unique properties take longer. It also will depend on the overall market and condition of your house.

In Virginia, the buyer has 3 days to rescind the contract after receiving the resale disclosure. The disclosure takes up to 14 days to arrive from the association. I recommend ordering this about 10 days before putting it active on the market.

Maybe. This can be negotiated as part of the contract. In some cases a buyer may want help with closing costs. But the real focus should be on your net. Raising the price and then giving closing costs is one strategy, but keep in mind the home may have to appraise at contract price. 

In this day and age, it is not necessary and can put you at a disadvantage. Buyers will be able to see what other homes have sold for nearby very easily. With online search portals, pricing properly will get your home exposed to the most amount of buyers.

In 2020, MLSs have cracked down on showing your house to any potential buyers if it is in coming soon status. It is also in your best interest to expose the home to the maximum number of buyers. “Sight unseen” (no showing) offers can still be accepted.

A 1 hour window for showings is typical. You can make this shorter or longer, but it is good to allow the buyer at least 30 minutes and then to account for traffic or schedule delays. If you make the window too short it can deter buyers.

No. Best practice is to give the buyer and the agent time to see the home without you there. This will give them the privacy they need make a decision about the property without feeling like someone is listening or they are intruding.

Most showing requests these days happen online through text messages, automatic calls or an app. You can approve showings right from through the app easily.

This varies with the market conditions, your property type, time of year, etc. Some properties get 1 per week, others 5+ per day. This is also determined by how attractive your home is to buyers based on price, update level, etc.

If you are not getting any showings, you could have priced the home too high for the location, condition/update level, size/features. Some types of properties get less showings like high end properties. But zero showings is almost always a sign that you need to adjust your price.

Ideally, never. The best opportunity to sell is in the first couple weeks on the market. If you need an adjustment, look at the average days on market for properties that have sold in your area. Adjust if you do not get a contract close to that timeframe.

If you need to drop the price, you will want to look at: properties for sale in your area and properties sold. For sale properties show your competition. Houses that gives buyers the best value (updates, price, location, etc) will get offers. Sold properties help by showing the past results.

A real estate pro can help with a free report. But generally, look at comparable sales and competition (for sale properties). In a rising real estate market with few houses for sale, price at the top of comparables. In a slow market, price below other sold properties. 

If you are priced well and the offer came in right after listing the property, sometimes a polite rejection is in order. If the property has been on the market awhile, a counter could be more suited. Every situation is different, so hiring the right professional upfront will help.

You need to provide the buyer with a property disclosure statement. Essentially it advises the buyer to do their own due diligence. However, you cannot intentionally hide defects in the property. There are also special cases that require a disclosure, i.e. knowledge of lead paint in the house.

It depends on the size of your property, but 2-3 hours is average for a full home inspection. You should be out of the house for the inspection so that the inspector and/or buyer can feel comfortable discussing the property.

This depends on the inspector and buyer. Most prioritize looking for deficiencies that would affect the safety of the house and occupants. After that is usually deferred maintenance items that need to be done. Smaller items will be noted as well. The buyer may not request all items to be fixed.

In VA, the contract states that the seller must treat for termites before settlement. In addition, repair any damage caused on the interior of the home. Termites are common in Virginia, especially in older homes. The buyer cannot void the contract using this inspection.

If you have an inspection with a repair negotiation period you will negotiate over the repairs. You are not required to fix the items requested. However, most sellers choose to fix some of the requested items that are important to the buyer to avoid the buyer voiding the contract.

Lender required repairs must be done in order for the buyer to get their financing. The finance contingency will have more information about what needs to be done depending on the loan type. Usually, a seller makes the repairs and the lender will send the appraiser to verify completion.

No, an appraiser will come to the property just to measure and take photos of the inside and outside for their report. They do not mind a homeowner being home, but do not interfere or ask about the value. This inspection is short, usually 10-20 minutes max.

You cannot control an appraisal tied to a loan, as they are neutral. However, make sure they have all relevant information. Prepare a list of all the updates you have done since you bought the home and the value of those updates. A good agent will provide this to the appraiser.

If there is an appraisal contingency, these are the 4 most common scenarios. #1. You lower the sales price to the appraised value. #2. Buyer comes up with additional down payment. #3. A combination of the first 1 & 2. #4. Buyer will use the contingency to void the contract.

Your contract will include a list of conveyances that will tell you what needs to be left. It also will state that anything attached to the walls or installed such as light fixtures, HVAC equipment, water heater, etc. will convey with the property.

You are dealing with a very large asset, and dealing with a recent or upcoming relocation. Plus, when selling there are many factors you do not have control over. To destress, keep your mind on your goals, accept what you cannot change and deal with problems quickly as they arise.

This happens, you are not alone. No matter how thorough you are, 20-30% of contracts fail for various reasons. If there was something you can change with your home (price, major inspection items) address these factors. Then get it back on the market.

Home Buying FAQs

Yes, both for your personal lifestyle and also for re-sale. Being close to work and amenities can make your quality of life better. 

Contingent means the property has a contract, but a buyer still has a possible way to legally void the contract (contingency) such as a home inspection or financing. A pending property has removed all contingencies and the parties are just waiting for the final closing date.

For a home that has been on the market awhile, it can be effective to negotiate a good deal. If the home is new to market a low offer is likely to be rejected and could hurt your chances at that property. Every situation varies, so listen to your agent.

In VA, an agent will should ask you to sign a buyer agreement upon having a “substantive” conversation about a particular property, per VA law an agent should disclose at this point about agency and who they work for. For example, talking about what a good offer would be. 

Many buyers find the homes they buy online. However, agents are instrumental in helping narrow down areas, tour homes, giving expertise on the best properties and negotiating you the best possible deal. Coming soon properties can also often be seen in the MLS before the public sees online. 

This depends on whether or not you are getting a mortgage, your loan type and what types of fess will be charged by your mortgage company. Typically, closing costs will run 2-3% of the sales price. That does not include your down payment.

In some cases, you can get the seller to cover a portion or all of your closing costs as part of your contract. These funds are used only towards closing costs, and not towards your down payment. 

There are usually some types of benefits, but it changes as tax laws and other regulations change. Keep your settlement statement for your accountant to look at for when you do your yearly taxes. A good accountant will give you the best up to date info.

No, not necessarily. You will want to get lender approval early in the process if you are not going to be going to closing. You will also need to get all of the documents notarized and sent back. In response to the 2020 coronavirus pandemic, getting an “e-notary” has become easier as well for you if you are a homebuyer.

When buying a home earnest money funds are held by a title company in what is called an escrow account. The funds show the seller you are serious about buying their house. These funds will go back to you to be used at settlement, unless you default on the contract. 

Usually 1-3% of the sales price. For higher end properties, new construction and buyers paying cash it could be more. If a home has multiple offers often making this number higher can help you win the property.

From the time you commit to buying a home to closing usually takes 45-90 days, this does not include the time you spend researching beforehand. If you are paying cash it could be less, some types of properties like new construction or short sales will take more time.

There is no right or wrong answer here. The average buyer sees between 4-7 properties before writing an offer. It really depends on how clear you are on what you want. Some buyers just see 1 property, and others 20+ in different areas.

Every situation is different, and using a reputable lender and choose an agent experienced in these types of scenarios. Make sure you include any terms that are important to the seller, use an escalation addendum, go for an “as-is” inspection, use a high EMD, etc. 

It is strongly recommended. Occasionally in a multiple offer situation buyers will waive this opportunity. This is at your own risk, and it is recommended to get one at least “as-is” (no repairs from seller). Home inspections help make sure there are no issues with the property. 

If you are paying cash, it is up to you. If you are getting a loan, you will need to get an appraisal done as a condition of funding the loan. The only exception is if you get an appraisal waiver from your lender.

This depends on your financial situation and how long you plan to own the home. Buying a home can help you build long term net worth. But if you are only going to own the home for say a year, most likely it is better to rent.

A pre-approval letter from a lender or bank statement if you are using cash, a photo of your ready to deposit earnest money check and a completed contract and addenda with your signatures to present. Optionally you could write a cover letter to the seller. 

Usually, you will hear back in 24-48 hours. Sometimes less and sometimes more. There is no legal timeframe for a seller to respond in VA. If there is an deadline for buyers to submit offers, the seller is highly unlikely to respond until that arrives. 

You will give all the money you owe to the title company, ahead of the closing date you have chosen with the seller. You will get a settlement statement beforehand telling you the amount to bring to closing. A bank wire or certified funds are required, no personal checks.

As long as you can. The longer you own a home the better financial decision it is, as you will incur costs from selling and it also gives the opportunity to earn appreciation on the home value. 5-7 years is a good minimum.

Yes, there are important rules that can affect what you do with your property. Such as pet policies, reserve funds and other rules and financials. You also will want to check to make sure there are no association violations, which the seller should clear before closing.

Yes, you can get a power of attorney prepared. Most of the time, it is done by the attorney handling the transaction. Give them plenty of notice and let your lender know also if you are buying with a mortgage. They will need to approve it.

Maybe. If you have the right to ask repairs in your home inspection contingencies, you can negotiate with the to fix items you request from the home inspection report. The repairs will be done before the final walkthrough. 

Ask your real estate agent or you can look up reviews online. In VA a home inspector is required to be licensed. 

Usually, the home inspection will take 2.5-3 hours. If the home is very large or small, it could take more or less time. If you do a radon test, those results will be available in roughly 48 hours after the test is placed.

Your inspector will take care of this. They are looking for items affecting the safety of the occupants, deferred maintenance, and also will give you more information about your property. This can help you with how to maintain your home and what to look for.

Termites are common in certain areas, unfortunately. In VA, the seller is required to treat the termites before settlement. Rarely, there is damage to the property from termites. If this is the case, the seller must also fix this with a licensed contractor.

You can negotiate to request the radon be remediated by the seller, or you can install a remediation system right after moving in. These systems are very effective in lowering the radon levels of the home and a retest will be performed to verify.

Your lender can answer questions about monthly payment amounts for your specific loan scenario as they vary with rates and down payments. If you are just starting to research, you can also find a good calculator online. Payments usually include principal, interest, taxes and insurance.

Wire fraud scams target real estate transactions. Before wiring funds to the title company, ask about their wiring policy. Do not wire funds if someone from the title company calls you, this could be a scam. Verify first, and when in doubt verify with your agent.

You can only change the closing date with the seller’s agreement. Choose a closing date when you are writing the contract that you know will work. Some seller’s will agree, others will not. It depends on their situation and how flexible they are.

This walkthrough is done usually just before closing to make sure the home is in substantially the same condition as the inspection, and any repairs agreed to by the seller have been completed. If there are issues, these will be worked out with the seller prior to settlement.

In some cases yes. If you have a home inspection contingency, you can void after your inspection if you are not comfortable within a certain time period. If you have a finance contingency in place, you can void if you do not get your loan. If you have an appraisal contingency, you can void if the appraisal comes in lower than the sales price. There are some others as well, but these are the most common. Read your contract thoroughly and ask your real estate agent.

This is a divisive question, some buyers are happy with their warranty purchase and some are not. If you are the kind of person that buys warranties at the store with your purchases, then you might want to do the same with your home.

If you have a home warranty, you can check with them to see if it is covered. You can also get a good reference to a contractor to help you with maintenance from your real estate agent. Welcome to the joys of home ownership!

New Construction Homes FAQs

Yes, absolutely. Builder’s representatives (salespeople) work for the builder. There are many factors of buying a new home that they will not tell you, because their loyalty lies with the builder. You should hire an agent that has experience selling new construction and has a knowledge of new homes.

Generally yes, but it will depend on the market. If they are rapidly selling out homes in a large community you may not be able to get them down on price. But in many scenarios you can. Builders are also more likely to give credits towards upgrades or closing costs.

Yes, an agent can help you find a lot to build on. Often, there will be an older home that you can tear down, but it may also be a vacant lot. This depends on where you are looking, some areas have more vacant land than others.

Depends on what area you are looking for, type of home and features you are looking for. Their is not one best developer who will cater to everybody. We are lucky to have a lot of quality builders around, both large companies and boutique firms.

Most builders will have a model home. Often, the model will be much more updated than your home will be. The builder may also have a project that is nearly complete that will have more realistic finishes. Smaller builders have off-site models.

Yes, builders sell their model homes. Most builders sell their models after all other homes in a community are sold. However there are some situations where a builder will sell you the model home before this. And other builders sell the model homes first and then lease them back to show buyers. 

On average, about a year from start to finish. But if you find a new construction home that is in progress or nearly complete, it could be much shorter. If you are building a fully customized home it could be 18 months or longer.

It is very rare, almost unheard of, for a builder to allow you to have a home inspection contingency. With that said, most will allow you to get an inspection and will also perform fixes at their discretion depending on what is found. 

It is highly recommended. No home is perfect, even if it is brand new. Most reputable builders will allow you to have an inspection and will fix items the inspector finds if they are clear defects. The inspector will find items that you likely would not notice.

This varies, the most common are pre-drywall inspections right before the walls are closed up, and when the home is complete prior to your final walkthroughs. Some inspectors also offer pre foundation/post foundation pour inspections to make sure your homes foundation was done well.

Usually, there is a pre drywall walkthrough just before they hang drywall, another walkthrough a week before settlement and then a walkthrough right before you go to closing. At any point if you see something you want addressed you can request it. Often it will get fixed.

Many builders will say yes, but it depends. There is usually a premium associated with buying new vs. buying a resale property of comparable size/location. However sometimes you will get quick equity. It varies with location, the market, how many homes are nearby, etc. Do your due diligence.

Yes, absolutely. Even if there is an open house, sometimes if you go without your agent on your first visit they will not allow your agent to represent you should you write a contract.

Yes, of course. However, many large communities have partnerships with lenders that allow you to receive a closing cost credit for using their preferred lender/title company. If the lender they offer has a good reputation, it can be hard to pass up a good deal.

Some will, some will not. Definitely ask up front and be ready for the consequences if you are unable to sell your home. Read the contract carefully. If they do take a home sale contingency, just know that they will likely want verification that you are taking steps to sell.

There are many reputable builders, specializing in different areas and types of homes. If you are buying a new condo or townhome, you likely will use a larger builder. If you are building a single family on one lot, you will have a lot more options.

Most often yes. If you compare a new home and a resale home of similar type, size, location the new construction home you will see has a bigger price tag. New homes have other advantages such as lower upfront maintenance, warranties and modern finishes/floorplans.   

No, not necessarily. However, if you want a home with all the newest modern trends, has not been lived in and will have very low upfront maintenance, that is what you are getting. Also, if you are looking for a very specific luxury home, building a home is very common.

Use a home search that has filters so you only see homes that are marked as new construction, such as my site. Also reach out to a real estate professional who has experience with new construction, because they may know of more new construction than you can find.

Depends on your flexibility and if you love your location. If you build on your lot, you will have to find a place to live for the next year plus while the home is being built. Buying a new home elsewhere is a good option if you have the funds.

Unlike a resale home, new homes often require larger deposits. And in most cases those deposits are non-refundable. So make sure your financing is solid and take note of any contingencies that are written into the contract.

In almost all cases a large builder in a community will want something upon contract signing. From there, they may let you deposit funds in installments. If you are buying a spec home from a smaller builder, you may get a few days to deposit the check. It depends on the contract. 

No, most of the time not. Builders use their own contracts, with special language for new construction. A new construction builder contract usually has favorable language for the builder, but this is typical. Having your own agent to represent you will help you in the process.

It will depend on what your purchase contract says, if you have any contingencies, etc. If there is an HOA/Condo Community, you will get a 3 day window to rescind based after receiving those documents. There is also the possibility of a finance contingency.

Yes. Nearly all reputable builders offer a warranty, with different timeframes for different elements of your new home. You will get information about what is covered before closing, or you can ask the sales rep during contract signing.

Most new home warranties that I have seen are transferable to the new owner if the home is sold. Keep in mind, the warranty date will still be the settlement date of the original purchase. Check with your specific before closing to verify their warranty is transferable.

Builders can get delayed throughout the home building process, it is not uncommon. Read your contract on how far out the builder may be able to delay because it varies. The building process can get delayed for various reasons, most commonly because of poor weather.

Yes, if you have a loan they will require you to get one, unless the lender gives you an appraisal waiver. If you are paying cash, it is up to you. Often times a new home appraisal requires two visits, one during construction and then one after completion. 

The COE is given after all the permits reach final approval from the local governing body. Basically, it says that the home has been built to the code and now can be inhabited. Closing will happen soon after and you can move in.

Yes, the builder will be required get a building permit and other necessary permits (electric, plumbing, mechanical, etc) and there will be inspections along the way. When the home is ready to move in, a Certificate of Occupancy will be issued.

Builders set the closing date, and they will notify you when they have set it and attempt to give you plenty of notice. They usually will work with you if a certain date does not work. Some builders are more flexible about changing closing dates than others.

Most of the time the builder gets the new association started and the HOA positions are mostly held by builder reps. After the community is complete, it will be turned over to the homeowners and/or a property manager. At that point they can start collecting fees and adjusting rules.

My Services FAQs

In 2022, Will Rodgers became a partner at the Alper Real Estate Group. Tolga is licensed in VA, MD & DC.

Will is focused on creating content and is also glad to talk to you about your goals. Tolga and the rest of The Alper Group will be the main point of contact on your home buying and selling journey. Together, this is the dream team for meeting your goals.

Will has been in real estate since 2013. Tolga has been an active real estate investor since 2008 and became licensed to help clients in 2014. 

Yes, we offer free consultations for both seller and buyers. We also do not get paid until settlement, so we are paid only on results rather than hourly or upfront.

The Alper Group is in the top 1% of the market and helps 65-80 clients per year buy and/or sell homes. We have a stellar team in place to get you the best results. 

Every year, NAR releases a huge survey of home buyers that includes data on how buyers search for homes and where they found the home they purchased. The trend is increasingly that home buyers are online. That is why I built this website, and we are heavily focused on online marketing. This gives our sellers a huge advantage. Contact us to find out more about what I do to sell homes.

Yes, but our recommendations depend on what you are doing, so get in touch with me. Contractors in Northern VA can be hard to find, and pricing and availability can vary with how busy they are.

We are glad to walk through your home as part of a home value consultation and give you an idea of what to fix, update or remodel and approximate costs. 

This also includes different sales price based on what updates are done. 

We do have a package where we can help oversee the remodel of your home for an additional fee due at settlement. This would only be if you are selling the property, not if you plan to continue living there.

The Alper Group is Licensed in VA, MD & DC. We are able to connect you with a top agent in other areas. So contact us to inquire about our partner agents.

Have more questions? Reach out to us directly.