VA Financing Basics – Part 2 of my series on What Buyer & Sellers need to know about Financing

VA FinancingThis week I’m going to focus on what VA appraisers look for and the key elements to be considered. Every VA loan requires properties to undergo a VA appraisal & meet Minimum Property Requirements (MPRs).

This is to ensure the structural integrity, safety & soundness of properties being purchased.

If you’re considering purchasing a home using VA financing or as a Seller you want your property to be considered as a viable option to VA buyers, you’ll want to consider these major MPRs.

  1. VA Financed properties must be Residential: If any portion of the home is designed for non-residential purposes such as a home based business (hair salon, dog grooming, auto shop), that part cannot exceed 25% of the total floor area.
  2. Operating systems must be safe and have a reasonable useful life expectancy. Be sure there are GCIF outlets in the kitchen and bath, all electrical and plumbing systems are good operating condition.
  3. All properties must have adequate living areas that provide suitable living, sleeping, cooking and sanitary areas.
  4. Heating systems must be adequate and safe. In our area many homes rely on woodburning stoves as their primary source of heat, for VA they must also have a conventional heating system that can maintain a temperature of 50 degrees Farenheit. Also unvented methods of heating, such as a space heater must be inspected by a heating professional, have an oxygen sensor and meet all building codes.
  5. A domestic water supply that provides safe drinking water & safe way of sewage disposal. You must have domestic HOT water as well.
  6. Roof conditions cannot be defective or have more than 3 layers of shingles, if this is discovered all old shingles must be removed prior to replacement. Roofing must be adequate and provide reasonable useful life expectancy.
  7. Adequate access to the crawlspace along with adequate venting is required. Remove all debri , be sure a properly installed vapor barrier is in place. Standing water or excessive dampness must be corrected. Leaky basements and faulty foundations are expensive to repair often leading to a deal breaker.
  8. Independent Utility services for each living unit (multifamily properties), unless there are separate shutoffs for each unit.
  9. Safe Access from the street either a permanent recorded easement or private driveway.
  10. Health & Safety are top concerns when dealing with VA financing. All properties must be free of any hazard that adversely affect the property or it’s occupants.
  11. Safety, Structural or Sanitation. Appraisers watch for  defective construction, decay/wood rot,  defective craftsmanship and repairs, leaks, and  excessive dampness.
  12. Water must have proper drainage and be graded to ensure water flows away from the home. All down spouts must have drain pans, poor drainage can lead to foundation problems.
  13. Properties must be free of fungal growths (Mold), dry rot and wood destroying insects. Pest inspections are commonly required in our area, if termites are discovered property must be treated and re-evaluated to gain VA approval.
  14. Properties built prior to 1978 may contain lead based paint which has been determined to be a health hazard. Any surfaces with chipped or peeling paint must be scraped and repainted, covered with drywall, or totally removed.
  15. Smoke detectors and Carbon Monoxide detectors must be properly installed per manufacturers recommendations.

The best way to purchase or sell a property that qualifies for VA financing is to be well versed in VA’s MPRs.

SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

Did I just stumble over that appraisal?

AppraisalCongratulations! You’ve placed your home on the market!

And stood firm on your listing price against the recommendation of the Real estate agent who suggested a much lower listing price.  Good for you…. Or is it?

Obviously sellers want to maximize the value they get for their home; however, their list price might not be reflective of comparable homes in their neighborhood. Most people tend to view their homes emotionally, thus placing an elevated value on them. This is an intangible value that cannot be justified.

Every house on the market has to be sold twice; once to a potential buyer and then to the bank, through the professional real estate appraiser.

All lenders when processing a home loan will require an appraisal (a comprehensive in depth professional evaluation) in order to verify it’s value. There are several factors taken into consideration during the appraisal including the value of properties of similar size and construction, the neighborhood, and even the types of fixtures in the home. The appraiser establishes the “market value”.

If the bank’s appraisal is valued below your agreed upon sales price, the bank might not authorize the mortgage for the full amount the buyer needs to purchase your home.

When your price and the bank’s appraisal are in line, the easier it will be for those looking to buy, and eliminates one of the main stumbling blocks in the buying process.

That’s why it is important to use an experienced real estate professional to help you set the right listing price for your home.

SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

Your Simple Guide to Buying a Home

Before you get started, do some homework. This handy Buyers Guide to buying your home will show you some things to keep in mind as you are hunting for that home of your dreams.

[wpspoiler name=”How Much Can You Afford” ]How much house you can afford is largely dependent on how large a mortgage (basically, a home loan) you can handle.

Start your research by using a simple mortgage calculator to see whether you can afford to pay the monthly mortgage on the kinds of houses you have in mind. You may even apply for a mortgage at a lender before you start looking for a home. This is called getting pre-approved for a loan; it will tell you exactly how much you can afford and may make the closing process go faster.

But, remember that owning a home involves more than a monthly mortgage. You’ll also have to consider money you’ll need to have at hand when you make an offer, when you close on a home and on a monthly basis after the home is yours.

Payments you may have to make when you submit an offer and at closing include:

Earnest money, usually 1% to 5% of the cost of the house, which you pay as a deposit on the house when you submit your offer. It is your proof that you are a serious buyer

Down payment, usually 10% to 20% of the cost of the house, which you must pay at closing

Mortgage insurance, paid by borrowers making a down payment of less than 20% Closing costs, usually 3% to 4% of the cost of the house, to pay for processing all the paperwork

Don’t forget the day-to-day expenses you may incur once you own that home.

This includes:

  • Utilities
  • Homeowner or condo association dues
  • Property taxes
  • City and/or County taxes

Apply to the old rule – You don’t want to be house rich but pocket poor!
[/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Shop for a Home” ]House hunting can be both exciting and frustrating. Most home buyers see roughly 15 houses before buying one. To make the search easier and faster, nearly half of all house hunters today begin by browsing for properties on the Internet, using web sites like this one.

The internet is a quick way to see whether the houses that are currently available meet the following critical criteria: in the right location, with the right features and at the right price. If you find after your internet search that few properties meet with your expectations, you may want to readjust your criteria change the location, features, price to increase your chances of finding a house that works for you. If you have any difficulties in this initial search, feel free to contact me for assistance. Homes can become available instantly and your agent is always the most current resource for literally up to the minute new home listing information.

Once you know what you want, where you want it and what you can afford, its time to see the houses for yourself. To help stay focused, bring with you a checklist of things that you’ve decided ahead of time are important qualities of your future home.

This might include:

  • Is there enough room for you to grow in?
  • Is the house structurally sound?
  • Is the house in move-in condition or will it need work?
  • Is it close enough to everyday needs, such as grocery stores, schools, work?
  • Will you feel safe here?
  • Do the appliances that are part of the sale work?
  • Is the yard right for your needs?
  • Do you like the floor plan?
  • Is there enough storage?
  • Will you be happy in this house in winter, summer, spring, fall?
  • You may also want to take some exterior and interior photos of each house you visit so that you can keep track of its pros and cons.

You certainly want to be happy with your new home but try not to get paralysis through analysis…
[/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Find a Real Estate Professional” ]While you’re not required to use a real estate professional, it is a good idea.

A professional has access to a network of contacts and can draw from extensive market knowledge to help pinpoint the right house for you quickly.

A professional also can help you structure your deal to save money, explain the advantages and disadvantages of different types of mortgages and guide you through the paperwork.

And best of all, our professional services are at no cost to you![/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Research Different Mortgages” ]There are a variety of mortgage types available today, each with advantages and disadvantages depending on how long you plan to live in the home, the financial marketplace and your income potential, among other things.

A fixed-rate mortgage is the most common. In a fixed-rate mortgage, your interest rate and payment stay the same for the life of the loan. An adjustable-rate mortgage usually starts out at lower interest rates and lower monthly payments than fixed-rate mortgages, but your rate and monthly payments may rise and fall based on a financial index.

There are also several government mortgage programs available, including FHA mortgages, which are designed to help people who might not otherwise qualify for a loan.

You may also have a choice in loan terms. There are 30-year loans and 15-year loans.[/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Making an Offer” ]When you’ve found a house you really want, its time to make the offer. How much you offer may depend on a number of factors:

  • Is the asking price fair? Here’s where the legwork you put in while shopping for a home pays off. Decide whether this house is priced right or out of line in the current marketplace.
  • Is the house in good condition? Is this house in move-in condition or will it need a lot of work? Take any costs of improvement into consideration when deciding your offer price.
  • Has it been on the market long? Usually the longer a house has been on the market, the more likely it is the owner would accept a lower offer. Or maybe its just overpriced for the market.
  • Is it a sellers’ or buyers’ market? If the houses you’re interested in are being bought as soon as they’re listed, that means you’ve got a lot of competition from other buyers; offer accordingly. If houses aren’t selling fast, you may have more leverage in negotiating a lower price.

Once you’ve determined how much you’d like to offer, work with your real estate professional to submit the proper information. This includes:

  • A complete, legal description of the house
  • The amount of earnest money you’re paying
  • The down payment and financing details A proposed move-in date
  • The price you’re offering
  • A proposed closing date
  • The length of time your offer is valid
  • Details of the deal

This can be just the beginning of the negotiation process. The seller has three options: accept your offer, counter your offer or reject your offer. Let your real estate professional advise you on the best way to present your offer for a good outcome. [/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Begin Contingency Period” ]When your offer has been accepted, the contingency period begins. This is time that allows you to obtain financing, perform inspections and satisfy any other contingencies of your purchase agreement.

Obtaining financing might include loan approval, which will include an appraisal of the property. Also be prepared to make your down payment, which is usually due several days before the close of escrow.

Now is the time to schedule a professional inspection of the property; it is one of the best safeguards you can take before buying. A home inspector should check (and may give you a rough price for repairs on) the electrical system, plumbing and waste disposal, the water heater, insulation and ventilation, water source and quality, pests, foundation, doors, windows, ceilings, walls, floors and roof.

Keep in mind that the inspector isn’t there to tell you whether you’re getting a good deal. He or she is there to give you an educated and professional opinion on whether the house is structurally and mechanically sound and fill you in on any repairs that are needed.[/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Buy Homeowners Insurance” ]A paid homeowners insurance policy is required at closing.

Often a real estate professional will help make sure your insurance company and your title officer are working together to put your policy in effect by the close of escrow.

But, if you get your insurance agent involved early in your home-buying process, he or she may also help point out ways to help keep your insurance premiums lower.[/wpspoiler][wpspoiler name=”Complete Settlement or Closing” ]When the property you’re buying has been inspected and you’ve had your final walk-through of the property to see that all contingency conditions such as final repairs made by the seller — have been met, its time to face the final paperwork.

You will be signing loan documents and closing papers, paying the balance of your down payment and closing costs.

This is the day you get the keys to your new home. Congratulations![/wpspoiler]


SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

What’s Happening in the Chehalis Real Estate Market?

Most of us in the real estate market are all too aware of what’s happening…and why!

That said, it always helps to have a real perspective as well as real estate market data to really get a logical view of why this real estate market is doing what it’s doing!

If you’re a home buyer, you’re certain to notice a significant limitation in the amount of homes for sale in Chehalis. And for many, these graphs below are a true sign of what little inventory we really have.

I know I’ve said it a bunch of times to just about anyone who will listen but, for the record…there is a remarkable difference in the number of ready, willing and able buyers out there versus the number of homes for those buyers to purchase.

Case in point. Looking at the graph below, you can see that in October/November of last year, there was roughly 43.something homes available for sale. As of this month (March 2015), there are less than 31! And the index for home prices since the first of this year is clearly indicating a strong uptick in prices simply due to the fact there are more buyer competing for those limited homes and as such, seller are commanding and demanding a higher price!

If we go back to early May of last year, you can see the home prices in Chehalis were in and around the $340K range. Today, folks are paying nearly $400K for the same property! WOW!

Stats Don’t Lie…This Real Estate Market is Red Hot!

I know it’s become hard to hear…even annoying for some, but this is one of those real estate markets that really is out of whack!

To truly understand how all this works, you don’t need to look any further than this next graph. At first, you see the Days on Market which is fairly easy to understand. The second indice show MAI or Market Action Index. This is more commonly known as Absorption Rate or the amount of time it takes for a certain market to absorb (sell) all it’s inventory.

In its simplest definition, if you had 10 homes on the market and only 2 of them sold, you would have a 20% absorption rate. Meaning, if you were on the priced above the 2 lowest priced homes, you probably would not see an offer…make sense? Good!

However, in todays real estate market, this stat is out of whack. And it’s all due to the sever lack of homes to actually buy!

Let me give you an example of the real estate market back in 2006. This insane market saw absorption rates in certain parts of the state in and around 80%! Meaning roughly 4 out of every 5 homes sold during that time period. Of course, lack of inventory was a factor back then but we also remember all to well that the buyer pool was way over inflated due in large part to very loose lending guidelines and basically the fact that if you could fog a mirror, you could get a home loan!

Taking all this in, the numbers are staggering and the real estate market shows no signs of slowing down…yet!

The news of changes in the appraisal process and how loans will be handled is going to be a significant change to the real estate market and the industry as a whole. I’ve attached a video from a lender I work with that is very interesting and should be watched if you’re thinking of buying a home later this year.

In this video, Dan Keller (MLO# 115349),who is a Seattle Mortgage Advisor with Caliber Home Loans goes through some of the changes you need to know about coming out in August. I’ve chatted with Dan and it’s something that all of us, not only in the real estate industry but home buyers and sellers better know about…and fast!

I hope you found this information beneficial. I know it’s a bit to absorb so if you have any questions about any of this and need to get a profession perspective on what is happening in Chehalis or the surrounding real estate markets, please do not hesitate to contact me.

SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

10 Tips to Buying a House

The top 10 things you need to know when buying a home.

buying a homeIt’s always a great experience buying a house when you know what you need to know. Although this is old hat to some, being a new home buyer could leave you with a lot of questions about the process. 

I’ve taken the time to jot down my 10 must know tips before you consider buying a home. It also bears noting, things are always changing and evolving in the real estate industry so this list will most certainly grow.

So, let’s take a look at some helpful tips I always impart to every prospective home buyer.

1. Don’t buy if you can’t stay put.

If you can’t commit to remaining in one place for at least a few years, then owning is probably not for you, at least not yet. With the transaction costs of buying and selling a home, you may end up losing money if you sell any sooner – even in a rising market. When prices are falling, it’s an even worse proposition.

2. Start by shoring up your credit.

Since you most likely will need to get a mortgage to buy a house, you must make sure your credit history is as clean as possible. A few months before you start house hunting, get copies of your credit report. Make sure the facts are correct, and fix any problems you discover.

3. Aim for a home you can really afford.

The rule of thumb is that you can buy housing that runs about two-and-one-half times your annual salary. But you’ll do better to use one of many calculators available online to get a better handle on how your income, debts, and expenses affect what you can afford.

4. If you can’t put down the usual 20 percent, you may still qualify for a loan.

There are a variety of public and private lenders who, if you qualify, offer low-interest mortgages that require a small down payment.

5. Buy in a district with good schools.

In most areas, this advice applies even if you don’t have school-age children. Reason: When it comes time to sell, you’ll learn that strong school districts are a top priority for many home buyers, thus helping to boost property values.

6. Get professional help.

Even though the Internet gives buyers unprecedented access to home listings, most new buyers (and many more experienced ones) are better off using a professional agent. Look for an exclusive buyer agent, if possible, who will have your interests at heart and can help you with strategies during the bidding process.

7. Choose carefully between points and rate.

When picking a mortgage, you usually have the option of paying additional points — a portion of the interest that you pay at closing — in exchange for a lower interest rate. If you stay in the house for a long time — say three to five years or more — it’s usually a better deal to take the points. The lower interest rate will save you more in the long run.

8. Before house hunting, get pre-approved.

Getting pre-approved will you save yourself the grief of looking at houses you can’t afford and put you in a better position to make a serious offer when you do find the right house. Not to be confused with pre-qualification, which is based on a cursory review of your finances, pre-approval from a lender is based on your actual income, debt and credit history.

9. Do your homework before bidding.

Your opening bid should be based on the sales trend of similar homes in the neighborhood. So before making it, consider sales of similar homes in the last three months. If homes have recently sold at 5 percent less than the asking price, you should make a bid that’s about eight to 10 percent lower than what the seller is asking.

10. Hire a home inspector.

Sure, your lender will require a home appraisal anyway. But that’s just the bank’s way of determining whether the house is worth the price you’ve agreed to pay. Separately, you should hire your own home inspector, preferably an engineer with experience in doing home surveys in the area where you are buying. His or her job will be to point out potential problems that could require costly repairs down the road.

Buying a home is a process…knowing what you need to know if vital to making the process work!

I hope you were able to take away some good information from today’s post. If I can elaborate on any of my top 10 items above or answer any questions on something you think I may have missed, do not hesitate to contact me at the information below…and happy home hunting!!!

SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

Are Your Home Buying Expectations Too High?

Fraught with just about every emotion under the sun, home buying can be easy…OR IT CAN BE HARD!

The Highs and Lows of Home Buying

Home BuyingI have a dear friend who has been known to say, “The anticipation of an event is often times greater than the event itself.” Which I’ve come to completely understand.

So often, the idea of buying a home, touring every weekend through open house after open house and even the idea of where to put ‘your’ sofa are wonderful feelings. It’s the expectation after a while that this home buying thing is a ton of fun and oh so carefree.

Those feelings are soon replaced with ‘tasks’ and ‘chores’ like trying to get all your documents together for your home loan, spending days running around trying to get offers and counteroffers signed around and dealing with inspection reports, deadlines and addenda’s!

The reason all this craziness is so…crazy is simply because you didn’t have THE TALK with your real estate broker.

Having THE TALK With You About Home Buying Expectations

If you’ve purchased, or sold for that matter, a home recently…you have at least one story to tell about your experience.

Every so often, I will hear one of my buyers say, “I wish I would have known that.” And, even a seller will say to me, “Our Agent never told us about this when we bought the house.”

It’s not enough to assume the buyer or seller who is entrusting their greatest financial asset knows what you know! In this Go-Go world, it’s important to take the time to understand the layers of “what-ifs” and “should of seen that coming” well before these things become an issue.

Spending the proper amount of time going over scenarios that may arise…because they have and I want you to know about them, is time very well spent. Letting your clients visualize an instance that may come up makes them forewarned and forearmed for what might happen during the transaction. The most important part of this process is when things go smoothly, your clients will attribute it to them having THE TALK more times than not.

Let’s put THE TALK in a Football context. Take the game between our beloved Seattle Seahawks and those poor Green Bay Packers for the 2014 NFC Championship. I’d say that was a game that many thought the Pack were going to win easily. I know some folks; die hard Seahawks fans, actually left the stadium after Russell Wilson threw his 4th interception.

Could anyone on the Packers sideline know what was about to happen in the last 4 minutes or so of that game…NO WAY! There isn’t a player on either team that will ever forget what happened at the end of that game. Yet, there wasn’t a single play that couldn’t have been defended differently had the Packers been better prepared. They let their expectations of going to the Super Bowl get in their way of preparing for the greatest comeback I’ve ever witnessed. OK, I’m getting carried away here.

Simply put, I’ll venture to bet that for as long as any member of the Green Bay Packers continue to play, they will always be forewarned and forearmed that ‘things happen’. And to go from the high’s of thinking you were going to the Super Bowl to the low’s of losing that and more…in less than 5 minutes.

My point is THE TALK is having a conversation about ‘things happening’. You don’t need to necessarily know what or how ‘things happen’ but that helps. No, it’s about helping the buyers take off their rose colored glasses to know this may not be as smooth as they had expected. I’m not talking about scaring you or being a pessimist. In fact, those who know me know I’m the eternal optimist! But, I’m also pragmatic and I think having all your ducks in a row doesn’t always prevent things from not going exactly to plan!

Expectations need to be established, understood and in some cases even tempered so a mole hill doesn’t turn into a mountain. THE TALK should always include ‘what-ifs’.

Home Buying is Fun When You Know the ‘What-ifs’

Take the time to interview your real estate broker and ask a lot of questions…I mean a lot!!! Find out what they know and don’t know. And be realistic that the experience may not always match the expectations and setting those expectations with goals and facts rather than hopes and dreams will always make the home buying process more fun. 


SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

3 Things Every First Time Homebuyer Needs to Know

Are you a first time homebuyers? Have you wondered what it takes to really enjoy the home buying process? Let’s find out.

Even if you have bought or sold real estate in the past, many of the things that are the most stressful parts of a real estate purchase can be easily dismissed if you have the conversations you need to have…with the right people…and as early in the process as possible!

1. Property Taxes and Mortgage Insurance –

Many first time homebuyers are well prepared for what they know…and equally unprepared for what they don’t know!

Knowing how much house you can afford is largely dependent on how large a mortgage (basically, a home loan) you can handle. Bare in mind, most loan programs come with some added costs that some first time homebuyers don’t always take into consideration. 2 costs that tend to sneak up on a first time homebuyer is mortgage insurance and property taxes.

Mortgage Insurance* – This is typically required when down payments are below 20%. Rates can range from 0.32% to 1.20% of the principal of the loan per year based upon loan factors such as the percent of the loan insured, loan-to-value (LTV), fixed or variable, and credit score. 


Property Taxes – To ease the burden of writing 2 big fat checks each year for property taxes, some first time homebuyers will wrap this cost into their overall monthly payment by paying a portion of their yearly property tax bill with their mortgage. This can be set up through escrow and, depending on how much your property taxes are, can add a few hundred extra dollars to your monthly payment.

Start your research by using a simple mortgage calculator to see whether you can afford to pay the monthly mortgage on the kinds of houses you have in mind as well as these 2 extras I just mentioned. I’ve inserted a simple mortgage calculator so you can get an idea how they work

Mortgage Calculator


Just remember, owning a home involves more than a monthly mortgage. Knowing this early and planning for it can certainly make for a smoother transaction!

What are some other costs first time homebuyers need to know?

Don’t forget the standard day-to-day expenses you’ll also incur once you own that home.

  • Utilities
  • Homeowner or condo association dues
  • General Maintenance

Apply the old rule – You don’t want to be house rich but pocket poor!

2. Inspection & Appraisal –
The cost first time homebuyers need to make to insure their largest investment is sound!

Most first time homebuyers know about the inspection and appraisal as a necessary part of the home buying process. What is not usually known is how much it costs.

In most instances, a first time homebuyer has to rely on friends, family or their real estate broker to help them find a qualified and knowledgable home inspector. Most home inspector will cost anywhere from a couple hundred dollars and up! However, if there is a need to have any additional inspections based on findings that are outside the scope of their home inspector, all of the sudden, the money starts jumping out of their pocket!

Some additional inspections that a first time homebuyer should be aware of:

  • Sewer and water main inspections – This service can be performed by a licensed plumber and may include a camera being sent down the sewer line to see if there are any blocking issues such as roots or cracks in the pipe.
  • Septic System Inspection – In most cases where the home is serviced by a septic system, the lender will require this as a condition of the loan however, no first time homebuyer wants this to be an issue after they take possession so it’s money well spent!
  • Well Water Inspection – Same as with the septic system…most lenders will make this a condition of the loan but you likely will incur the cost.

3. Home Inspections are not PASS or FAIL –

This is when the first time homebuyer gets to flex their negotiation muscle!

On an occasion, I will work with a first time homebuyer who is under the impression their home inspector is there to ‘check off’ on the house! I quickly help them understand that the inspection of the home is as much a vehicle to get any items fixed found during the inspection as it can be a negotiation tool to get a new price or even a potential sum of money to address any needed repairs that the seller can’t or won’t remedy. This is known as a ‘Hold Back’ and can be negotiated as part of the purchase and sale agreement.

An Educated First Time Homebuyer is a Smart First Time Homebuyer!

In every opportunity where I have helped educate and empower my first time homebuyer before we ever start looking at house, I almost always finding the home buying process less stressful, more positive and head and shoulders better…for all parties involved!


SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate

How Much Does it Cost to Buy a Home

Let’s Take a Look at What it Cost to Buy a Home

The cost to buy a home is not limited to the number you offer or what you see on the flyer! And while most home buyers are very savvy when it comes to ‘crunching the numbers’ when it comes to the month to month requirements of home ownership, the conversation of what will it cost to buy ‘YOUR’ home should be had long before you head off to the closing table!

Whether you’ve purchased real estate in the past or are looking to become a homeowner soon, knowing exactly what it cost to buy a home can be a real eye opener if you don’t know the right questions to ask…or more importantly, who to ask!

Who is the best to help me understand how much it cost to buy a home?

Although your REALTOR® or just your agent (Yes, there is a difference) is arguably your first line of defense when it comes to protecting you and your investment, they may not always have the exact answers to your financial questions and the overall cost to buy a home.

This is not to say he or she is not educated or a wealth of knowledge and information about the home buying process and market conditions. But, sometimes the best professional to know what you’re exactly going to pay…to the penny…is a member of your team that you may not even know!

Meet the Team

Of course your REALTOR® is the best resource for the obvious cost to buy a home such as the cost of an inspection. But, getting to know who is handling your title and escrow for instance, can be a excellent resource for knowing where all those closing dollars are being spent.

Having a knowledgable person who is handling your closing paperwork will allow you to get a strong indication of your overall ‘Out of Pocket’ expenses that are not usually discovered or talked about during the flurry of activity of buying a home.

Below is a quick breakdown of who and what are involved in the transaction when figuring the cost to buy a home: 

  • Appraisal
  • Homeowners Association
  • Insurance Binder
  • Well and Septic Inspection
  • Lender
  • Credit Report
  • Private Mortgage Insurance
  • Title Policy
  • Escrow Fee (Closing Costs)
  • Property Taxes
  • Utilities (Gas, Phone, Sewer, Water, Garbage, Cable, Internet, Alarm System and good old fashioned Electricity)
  • Moving Expenses
  • Rekeying your doors

Knowing the cost to buy a home after you bought the home

The above list may be something many buyers have planned for. But, what about all those ‘goodies’ after you close? These are expenses new homeowners can put off but it’s not long before you have to address certain items to insure your largest investment keeps its value.

  • Paint – You will ultimately want to put your own ‘stamp’ on your new home. Best way to do this is with a fresh coat of paint. An expense that can be put off but your heart wants what your heart wants and sooner than later…you will want to paint believe me!
  • Windows – Upgrading your windows to a more energy efficient system is a common first expense. This can save you hundreds if not thousands in energy bills in just the first few years of homeownership and money well spent!
  • Landscaping – I’m not talking about a complete redo but you will want to maintain your lawn and pretty flower beds and that takes a lawnmower, flower food and more than likely, a whole bunch of new flowers and pretty pretty’s from your local home and garden center.
  • Appliances – This can wait but it’s not a bad idea to at least have a budget for a dishwasher or dryer just in case the worst happens and they conk out on ya!
  • Furniture – Also considered more of a luxury than a necessity but you know as well as I do that you never have enough furniture to fill up your new home!

Of course the one cost to buy a home you NEVER have to concern yourself with…

You never pay your REALTOR® a commission when you buy your home! That’s right…some buyers are unaware that the cost of working with an experienced and knowledgable Real Estate Professional like myself is absolutely FREE TO YOU!!! 

To learn more about the cost to buy a home or a more in depth breakdown of what I’ve covered here, please contact me directly at the information below and I’d be honored to answer all your home buying questions!



SimonsI am passionate about Real Estate and eager to answer all of your real estate questions! Text or Call me at 360-880-2356 or email me directly to ask about Buying, Selling or Investing in today's Real Estate Market - serving Lewis County & Thurston County, WA.

Janet Simons | Certified Residential Specialist | Real Estate Broker
Mountain Valley Real Estate