Hampton Roads Real Estate News & Market Trends

We hope you’ll find our blog to be a wealth of information, covering everything from local market statistics and home values to things to do! That’s because we care about the community and want to help you find your place in it. Please reach out if you have any questions at all. We’d love to talk with you!

Feb. 25, 2021

5 Tips For Buying a Home Sight Unseen

Last week, we talked about the importance of optimizing screen appeal when selling a home. However, what happens when you’re on the other side of the transaction? Maybe you’re PCSing to Virginia Beach, and you can’t take leave to visit properties in-person. Or maybe you just got a new job in Smithfield, and you want to solidify a home of your own before you move. Because of this, you have to buy sight unseen. According to the National Association of Realtors (NAR), 1 in every 20 homebuyers purchased a home sight unseen in 2020. When you’re relying on virtual tours, photos, and videos to represent a property, how do you protect yourself and make sure you’re buying the right home? Keep reading for some valuable tips and tricks that will ensure you have a positive experience buying a home sight unseen. 


1. Choose a great real estate agent.
If you choose The Verity Group to help you navigate your buying journey, we’ll listen intently and make sure we understand your real estate needs. We’re experienced with assisting military service members find their perfect home from a distance, and we’d be thrilled to do the same for you. Our team is extremely familiar with Hampton Roads and beyond, so if you’ve never been here before, don’t worry! We can recommend great neighborhoods and find a home that meets all of your needs. 


2. Figure out exactly what you want.
Buying a home remotely means you need to be very clear about your negotiables and your non-negotiables. This way, your real estate agent will know exactly which properties to suggest. Maybe you’re dreaming of a waterfront property in Yorktown to accommodate your boat, or you’re excited to find a starter home in Chesapeake that can grow with your family. Clarify your preferences about budget, size, location, amenities, age of the home, and more. If you have any deal breakers, let your agent know. 


3. Attend a virtual showing. 

Once you’ve found a home that seems promising, ask your agent to schedule a virtual showing over video chat. This will give you an opportunity to see the home up close and personal and ask any pressing questions that have been on your mind. At this point in the process, you have to rely heavily on your agent’s opinion, since viewing a home over video chat isn’t quite the same as viewing a home in-person. However, if you’ve chosen an agent you trust, you should feel confident that they have your best interests at heart. 


4. Vet the area. 

Have your agent film the streetscape or use google street view/satellite to give you an idea of the surrounding neighborhood. Your agent can also take videos and upload them through a drive share program like Google Drive so  you can refer back to them since you can't physically revisit the property. In addition, research the community yourself to make sure you're comfortable with the overall area. Look into local schools, gyms, churches, the crime rate, and more. If you feel comfortable with what you discover, that’s a green light that you’re on the right path. 


5. Don’t be afraid to ask “stupid” questions. 

If you’re confused about something, don’t hesitate to speak up. The home buying process is complex and can be intimidating, so there’s no such thing as a “stupid” question. The more clearly you understand what’s happening, the more comfortable and confident you’ll feel.


Feb. 18, 2021

5 Ways To Enhance Your Home’s Screen Appeal

Since more and more buyers are taking the plunge into homeownership sight unseen due to historically low inventory, it’s more important than ever to make your home stand out on a phone, tablet, or computer.  Because of this, screen appeal is the new curb appeal. Potential buyers are no longer limited to a curbside view of the homes that interest them. Instead, they’re able to access online photos, videos, virtual tours, and more. If you want to give potential buyers the opportunity to virtually step foot inside your Hampton Roads home, you’ve come to the right place! Below are five ways to enhance your home’s screen appeal.


1. Declutter and clean.
Look around your home. How much stuff do you have? Does your space feel cluttered? Before listing your home on the market, it’s essential to declutter and organize your belongings. Stow away extra appliances on your kitchen counters, hide family photos and other personal things, and donate items you’ve had for ages but never use. You don’t want a flashy centerpiece or a bold piece of artwork to distract potential buyers from the beautiful details of your home, such as the crown molding or backsplash. After you’ve finished decluttering, clean your home thoroughly. Wipe down surfaces, clean the mirrors and windows, sweep/vacuum/mop the floors, and dust wherever necessary. Your home will feel completely refreshed when you’re done. 


2. Paint.

Your home should ultimately be a blank canvas that allows potential buyers to imagine themselves living in your space. If your guest bathroom is an interesting shade of yellow that you never changed after moving in, pick a neutral shade and tackle that project ASAP. Light gray, cream, and white are great options. If you need to complete any touch-ups, do so before painting. This includes sanding down cracked or chipped paint and washing off stains with soap and water. 


3. Turn on the lights.

Dark rooms never do a home justice. Before listing photos are taken, open your blinds and turn on all the lights in your house. In addition, make sure your lighting is consistent. Are your lightbulbs cool or warm? It’s important that they all match. Lastly, the time of day you photograph your home or film a virtual tour matters. Right after sunrise or before sunset will give you soft, warm light. Midday will give you bright, cool light. If you’re wondering which time of day is best, that depends on the direction your property is facing. Ultimately, you want the sun behind you when photos are taken. This will give you images that are rich with color. 


4. Stage your home.

The primary goal of staging is to present your property in its best light. Sometimes this means rearranging your furniture, hiding certain items in a storage unit, or buying specific pieces to accent your space. Take the process room by room. Small items, such as artificial plants and flowers, throw pillows, blankets, and mirrors can make a huge difference in your space. If you live in coastal Virginia Beach, consider a driftwood coffee table, nautical blue fabrics, and rattan/wicker furniture. If you live in Colonial Williamsburg, consider area rugs, antique clocks, patchwork quilts, and pottery. 


5. Hire a professional photographer, or ask your agent for help. 

Your iPhone can take impressive photos for capturing day to day events, but if you want to enhance your home’s screen appeal as much as possible, use the Verity Group!  We always hire a professional real estate photographer for our listings. They’ll have the necessary equipment to take crisp, high quality photos that will stand out on the web. They’ll also know all the right angles that will show off your Hampton Roads home. When beneficial, we also use an Iguide program through Virtual Tidewater. The Iguide gives potential buyers a three dimensional dollhouse view that’s great for screen optimization!


Dec. 23, 2020

Local Holiday To-Do’s

The holidays march on, though the world is barely cooperating. Many family gatherings have been canceled, and so have a lot of the holiday markets with local vendors and treats, where shoppers can pick up one-of-a-kind goods for the family.


Luckily, there are still many things to do that are COVID safe and will ensure that your holiday season is bright! 



Dates: November 6 - December 31, 2020 from 5pm-Midnight

Where: 101 KOA Lane, Virginia Beach VA 23451

What: The Lights of Christmas is a drive-thru experience the whole family can enjoy! With a synchronized display of hundreds of thousands of lights, the dance and move to a 30 min soundtrack that you listen to on your car's radio while driving through this elaborate show of Christmas cheer! Located at the KOA Holiday of Virginia Beach, VA.

Cost: $25 a carload! Military and Police are $20 



Dates: November 13, 2020 - January 2, 2021.

Where: Norfolk Botanical Garden, 6700 Azalea Garden Rd., Norfolk, VA 

What: Enjoy a festive and healthy way to kick off the holidays. Drive through 2 miles of spectacular lighted displays.


  • Value Nights (most Sundays-Thursdays) will be $25/car for members and $35/car for Not-Yet-Members

  • Premium Nights (Fridays & Saturdays and Christmas week) will be $30/car for members, and $40/car for Not-Yet-Members

  • Limos, vans and motor coach vehicles will be $60 each night

  • Military Members, Dominion Energy Employees, and City of Norfolk Employees: $5 Discount is available Sunday-Thursday



Dates: November 13, 2020 through January 3, 2021. Illumination begins at 5:30 pm each night and continues until 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays and 10 pm from Sundays through Thursdays. 

Where: On the boardwalk beginning at 2nd Street, Virginia Beach VA

What: Drive your vehicle ON THE BOARDWALK through Nautical, Holiday, and Adventure Lands with a soundtrack signal playing traditional Holiday music on your vehicle’s radio. Festive fish, musical crabs, and hard-working elves – all in brightly colored lights against the moonlit Atlantic Ocean - are the stars of BayPort Credit Union Holiday Lights at the Beach. They are joined by light-up Santa and a 40-foot tall Christmas tree erected on the beach and in the beautiful parks along the Virginia Beach Boardwalk. The light display includes archways along the entire length of the spectacular light display with fish swimming overhead and spectacular light tunnels to drive through. Military tributes to the region's strong Armed Forces community are featured prominently throughout the display. 

Cost: Cars, $17 nightly (Military Mondays: $12 per car with military ID). Limos: $30. Motor coaches: $50. Mini buses: $30. All vehicles enter through the main entrance at 2nd Street. Tickets must be purchased in advance. *



Dates: November 20th at 5:30 PM through December 30, 2020 at 9:30 PM

Where: Sleepy Hole Park, 4616 Sleepy Hole Road, Suffolk VA

What: The display will be closed on Thanksgiving, Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. The inaugural Suffolk Festival of Lights will display over 35,000 bulbs. The drive-through holiday light display is free.  

Cost: Free

Posted in Holidays
Dec. 10, 2020

Keep Your Property in Tip-Top Shape!

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” We’ve all heard the cliché that’s been tossed around for ages. But when it comes to preventive maintenance on home properties, especially in preparing for the oncoming cold season, it’s almost impossible to find a better line. Nowhere is an ounce of prevention more fitting than when it comes to winter property maintenance.


You already know how important maintenance is, however keeping up with it all can be challenging, which is why it’s important to have a property maintenance plan in place. When you don’t have a plan, upkeep can be easily overlooked, and the consequences can be costly and even dangerous. 


Having a maintenance plan can help mitigate risk from potential hazards, such as injuries from falling building materials or fires from poorly wired lighting. To avoid serious problems, it’s essential to keep up with maintenance and take preventative measures.


All smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors (if present) must be working at all times.

Always make sure that your batteries are plugged in and in working order. If you have non-functioning detectors, replace them immediately.


Furnace filters must be changed at least every two months but we suggest monthly.

This helps increase the efficiency of the heating and air conditioning systems. Failure to change filters may result in creating higher utility costs and could cause permanent damage to the HVAC system. 


Gutters need to be kept free of leaves/debris at all times.

This time of the year gutters should be cleaned monthly as it is Fall and leaves are now dropping.This helps the water to flow freely in the downspouts, away from the foundation which keeps basements dry; wet basements lead to mildew. Failure to clean gutters can also result in gutter damage. Have your gutters checked at least once a month until all leaves have fallen. 


All fallen leaves should be properly removed and disposed of.

With Fall comes leaves. Outside heating/cooling units should be free of weeds, vines, leaves, trash, etc. Patios, decks, balconies, storage or utility closets should be swept and cleared of debris. Trim all vines and do not let vines grow anywhere on houses, sheds, fences, brick, wood, siding, trees and/or bushes. Also make sure any exterior drains/stairwells are clear of any leaves as this can cause basement flooding.


Hose bibs (outside faucets) will burst if they are not winterized properly.

The outside water faucets need to be drained so that the water line does not freeze. The water valves for the outside faucets are located inside the house usually on the lowest level. In townhouses the rear exterior shut off is often under the kitchen sink. There are usually separate valves for the front and rear faucets. Turn the water valve off on the inside. Then go outside and turn the water faucet on to drain any water in the line.


If you have plans to leave the area for any length of time during the winter, leaving your heat set to at least 60 degrees will ensure that your home stays at a constant room temperature to avoid freezing.


If your home has a wood burning fireplace remember to have it inspected and cleaned if necessary.

Please be careful of the type of wood you use in your fireplace as some wood is better than others. Fireplaces should be cleaned and inspected every few years.


Posted in Home Owners
Dec. 4, 2020

Trending Christmas Decor

Every year, we see a particular trend pertaining to Christmas decorations and this year is no different. From traditional red and green and gold to something colorful or minimal, the Christmas decor trends change as the year passes. Depending on what’s on trend, you may want to decorate your home and give your old ornaments and decorations a new twist. So transform the aesthetics of your home by taking inspiration from the Christmas décor trends of 2020.


The Pantone color for 2020 is Classic Blue. This color had a significant influence on the home décor industry, as you see it in furniture, accessories, paint, and even Christmas décor! Navy pairs beautifully with so many colors, including white and/or silver, gold, platinum/champagne, blush, and even red. If you have navy accents in your home, definitely consider bringing navy into your holiday décor! It will give a sweet spin to the classic red and green of Christmas. Richly saturated jewel hues such as sapphire blue, amethyst purple and emerald green are great accents to bring out the navy, then add gold accessories to dress the whole look up for the Christmas period. 



This fun element is great to add in your holiday cheer. Think large oversized jingle bells, tabletop pieces, and tin ornaments. Not feeling brave enough to add some large-scale pieces to your tree? Consider doing a mixed metal theme and focus on golds, silvers, and platinum.



Gingerbread men and houses are a classic when it comes to Christmas, but this year you will see a resurgence of playful pastels and fun colors — which is a new take on an old favorite. Think cupcakes, ice cream cones, marshmallows, and all the tasty treats that will make your Christmas decor that much sweeter.


Nordic Luxe

A Nordic-style scheme is a winner for the holiday season, conjuring up images of snowy landscapes and cozy, hygge interiors full of flickering candlelight. Choose a mix of white, glass and silver baubles to allow the foliage to be the star. Traditional Nordic trees are often decorated with real candles, but you can fake the look with LED alternatives. Pile animal skins around the bottom of the tree to introduce warmth and natural texture, and maximize sparkle with classic silver lametta, strung over the tree’s branches. 


Rustic Elegance

Keep it simple for an elegant scheme that heroes the natural beauty of the tree itself. Festoon the whole tree generously with warm white fairy lights, nestled deeply among the branches for maximum twinkle. One, carefully selected tree decoration, repeated across the branches, works perfectly for a pared-back look that has a quiet, understated sense of style. Choose a hanging decoration with interest such as a beaded wreath, or fluted bauble to maintain a level of luxury. 


There you have it, our top trends in Christmas home decor for 2020! You’ll see these looks from living rooms to wrapping paper motifs and Christmas stockings. We’ve taken you on a Christmas tour of elegant platinums and cozy farmhouse elements to whimsical pastels. What are your favorite trends?


Posted in Christmas Decor
Nov. 20, 2020

Find the Right Agent to Sell Your Home

The biggest mistake home sellers make when choosing a listing agent is selecting an agent based solely on two factors: the highest list price for your home and the lowest commission. But those two criteria have very little to do with hiring a competent agent and, in many instances, are completely irrelevant.


Agents can't tell you how much your home will sell for. To say that they can is a fallacy. A listing agent can show you comparable sales, pending sales, and active sales. When you choose the list price, the market will tell you if the pricing strategy is right. An agent can suggest the list price that will secure an audience of prospective buyers . The response from your prospective buyers will determine the outcome. 


Real estate agents are not created equal. Each has unique marketing techniques and advertising budgets. Choosing an agent with strong and proven sales and marketing strategies will maximize your exposure and give you a competitive edge. 


Why would an agent discount their fee? The value has to exceed the cost in any situation.  Typically, discount agents offer discount service that could actually cost their sellers significantly more than their perceived savings. Sometimes it's the only way the agent feels it's possible to succeed in a highly competitive business because the agent can't otherwise stand apart from the competition on service, knowledge, or negotiation skills. If the sole benefit an agent brings to a table is a cheap fee, ask yourself why. Is the agent desperate for business or unqualified? Consider these questions before committing to working with an agent.


You will be in a relationship with your listing agent for several months. Choose an agent that you like and can relate to. Most sellers want specific character traits in their agent.


Experience: Choosing an agent who is active with buyers and sellers in the current market is crucial.  They have their finger on the pulse of the market, and you’ll benefit from their knowledge and direction.

Honesty: Trust your intuition. Your agent is sincerely interested in creating a solution to help you achieve your goals.  They should gather the kind of information necessary to understand what is most important to you, and committed to helping you achieve those goals.

Networking: This is a people business. Does your agent have a good reputation?  Do other agents want to work with them? Having an agent that is well networked will make other agents eager to show and sell your home.

Negotiation skills: You want an expert negotiator, someone who can think outside the box, and create a “win-win” while meeting your goals.  If an agent is quick to discount their own fee, can they effectively negotiate on your behalf?

Effective communication: Sellers say communication and availability are key. Make sure you choose an agent who’s willing to communicate the way that you want and need them to.


You want to choose an agent that will go to bat for you during this process. You want them to protect your money as if it were their own. Selling your home doesn’t have to be a difficult task.  When you choose the Verity Group we’ll walk you through each step of the process, and are committed to meeting or exceeding your expectations.

Posted in Home Agent
Nov. 16, 2020

Receiving an Offer on Your Home

You’ve finally done it. You put your house up for sale and now the offers are starting to come in. How do you go about picking the best one to make sure you don't let a good deal slip right through your fingers?


If price were the only factor to a home offer, most sellers would have it made. It would be easy if homebuyers simply pay the asking price or above on the home they end up purchasing. However, deciding on the right offer is much more complex than saying yes to the highest bidder. You have to hedge against various risks, like a buyer backed by shaky financing, or unfavorable fine print in the contract. In the event that you generate multiple offers (a seller’s dream!) there’s a whole strategy that goes into reviewing the bids and using that upper hand to lock in your desired price and terms.


So, without further ado, let’s go through what you should consider when fielding offers on your home—and how to find (and secure) “the one.”


Talk to Your Agent About Your Priorities 

Before you list your house, it’s a good idea to make a list of your priorities upfront with your real estate agent, which will help you determine the right offer depending on the factors that are most important to you and your individual situation.


For example, if you need to sell because of a family or job change, speed could be a top priority. As a result, an immediate offer could be your best bet so that you can negotiate a closing date that aligns with your timeline.


Another factor that impacts the weight you place on one offer over another is maximizing your financial potential and minimizing hardship. For instance, if you receive an offer from a buyer who isn’t requesting repairs, or seller concessions you might prioritize that buyer over another. Your agent can help you understand all of the financial implications of your bottom line based on the offers that are coming in.

Review the Contingencies in Each Offer

When you’re deciding on the best offer for your house, take a close look at the contingencies that the buyers penciled in.  The contingencies are opportunities for buyers to back out of the process if their expectations aren’t met.  You can think of them as a buyer’s conditions before they’ll agree to a deal—so don’t overlook them, as they could potentially “kill” an otherwise great offer, price-wise.


The most common contingencies include the home inspection, buyer financing, and property appraisal—which all protect a buyer in the event they’d like to back out before the home inspection contingency expires, or the home doesn’t appraise at the agreed-upon price.


Some contingencies, however, are riskier for sellers, so look out for buyers who bring an offer forward that is contingent upon selling their existing home. You have no way of guaranteeing when and if the buyer’s home will sell, which puts you in a sticky predicament if you need to move quickly.


At the end of the day, contingencies aren’t black-and-white. In fact, they could have strings attached that may not work for you. For example, buyers could drag out a home inspection period, which could be riskier to you because the buyer has more time to inspect the property and discover issues that could implicate the value of your home—and the chances you’ll sell it in a timely manner.


Don’t Rule Out the First Offer that Comes Along

Determining whether the first offer will be your best offer can be tricky, especially in a hot and competitive market. Should you give it some time to see what the market holds, or pounce on a good opportunity?


Thankfully, there are resources—including experienced agents—that can help you gauge the chances that your first offer will be your best.


It may be the case that you receive an offer (or multiple offers) on your house within days or even hours of listing it. In fact, if you price your house right from the start, you’re based in a prime location, your house is in a great showing condition, and the market is favoring sellers, there’s a strong chance that offers will roll in right away.


If that happens (and lucky you!), don’t be tempted to wait around for something better, simply for the sake of testing the market to see what you can get. You should weigh every offer seriously, and the ones that come in early may have very motivated buyers behind them who are ready to go.


Recognize the Value of a Cash Offer but Verify Funds first

Among the offers you receive on your house, you could find that some buyers don’t require financing and are able to pay entirely in cash. Should you accept one of these cash offers, you won’t have to worry about a buyer’s approval for a mortgage loan falling through, and that gives you a higher level of certainty that the transaction will close. However, you should verify proof of funds before proceeding with any cash offers.


If a no-fuss, certain transaction is what you need (without the hassles of stagings and showings) you could also consider fielding offers from various cash investors.


Between fix-and-flippers, buy-and-hold rental investors, and the new-age iBuyers that target homes of a certain price point, the direct-buy market is more competitive than ever and you should theoretically be able to fetch more for your house if you take the opportunity to compare offers.


Leverage a Bidding War to Get the Price and Terms You Want

A bidding war is a situation in which a house generates multiple competing offers, signaling that it’s sought-after because it’s a new property, the price is right, or it has some special feature associated with it.


A bidding war is almost always good for a seller, but it can be great if you have an agent who knows how to negotiate with interested buyers to get you the best deal.


It’s important that all interested parties are given a deadline because otherwise, negotiations can be ongoing—which may not work for a seller who needs to move quickly.


Your needs, your neighborhood, and the market may not always align in your favor—and a seller’s expectations for how many offers they’ll get and the quality of those offers could take an emotional and financial hit.


That’s why hiring a reputable and experienced agent is one of the best things you can do for your sanity and pocketbook.


Experienced agents have worked with many scenarios and circumstances, so whatever your reason for selling and your needs for the future, you can trust that your agent has your best interests at heart. You can rest assured your agent won’t let the best offer slip away or settle for a deal you’re not happy with.

Posted in Home Owners, offer
Nov. 5, 2020

Pros and Cons of a For Sale by Owner Home

Everyone has a bit of a DIY streak, and sometimes people are tempted to apply this to selling their home. While hiring an agent may seem expensive, or even unnecessary, there’s a lot to consider before selling your home independently. If you're thinking about it, it’s worth knowing the pros and cons of going it alone before diving in.

Pros of FSBO

Choosing the For Sale by Owner approach to selling your home has its appeal, and it’s not just because of the savings it brings.


  • Commission Savings

The typical commission charged by real estate agents is 3%  each to the listing and the selling agent, which is typically paid by the seller. As a result, FSBO can seem like an attractive option because you’re crossing off this expense right from the beginning. One detail to bear in mind, however, the majority of homeowners still pay a traditional buyer’s agent fee, so the prospective savings is really only 3%.


  • More control of the sale

  • With FSBO you have the first and last say in terms of how you want the sale to go down. From the asking price to the way your home will be advertised, which buyers to show it to, and even potential negotiations, you are in control of the sale. You also have all the responsibility.  If you aren’t sure how to go about marketing your home, you might be disappointed with the result. According to a recent study done by NAR the following ranked among the biggest challenges for sellers:  

    • Accurately pricing the home

    • Preparing the home for market

    • Having enough time to deal with all of the aspects of the home sales and marketing process.

    • Predicting the timeline for the sale


  • You know your home

You live in your home, no one is a better expert on your home than you. As a FSBO seller, you know exactly what the strengths of your house are, and as someone who has lived in the house and neighborhood for a long time, you may be able to use your knowledge to communicate with buyers.  However, you also may not be able to see past your own perspective to help buyers imagine their life in your home.  It can be difficult to disassociate your home and personal life with the business transaction that selling your home truly is. Buyers often expect a discount when dealing directly with a seller, which can be emotional and insulting if you are trying to negotiate on your own behalf.

Cons of FSBO

Being left to your own devices when it comes to the sale sounds great, but there’s more to selling a home than just putting up a listing and waiting for the calls to roll in. Here are some facts to take into consideration if you’re still considering a FSBO:


  • You could actually net LESS by doing FSBO-

According to a 2018 study released by the NAR, homes that FSBO sold at an astounding 40% less on average than homes listed by a realtor. Considering that most FSBO’s still pay a 3% commission to the buyer’s agent that’s potentially a 37% net loss.  There could be other factors that could cost you additional revenue.  Not knowing the normal market for things like seller concessions and home inspection repairs could cost you even more in the long run.


  • No professional help

Opting for FSBO means you are missing out on the exposure you would otherwise get if listing through the MLS (multiple listing services). For Sale by Owner websites do exist, but they get far less traffic than professional listing platforms. Even if you adversized on Zillow, FSBO ads drive interested buyers directly to real estate agents, making it difficult to contact the actual seller. Not only that, but you also run the risk of failing to attract buyers, if your  listing’s photos and description aren’t appealing enough. Additionally, you will also have to handle all the paperwork and legal requirements, appraisal process, organize open houses, as well as screening your potential buyers to make sure that nothing is amiss and they do in fact qualify to buy your home.


  • More time-consuming

If you’re considering For Sale by Owner as a seller, it’s always best to remember that it’s another full-time job, as you are now fulfilling the role of a real estate agent. If you don’t  have knowledge or the time to advertise your home, show the buyers around, discuss the transaction details and deal with the ensuing paperwork, you might find it more trouble than it’s worth. Especially if it costs you more in the process.

  • You might not close the deal

A career Real Estate agent is highly motivated and qualified to sell your home. FSBO can be more stressful and time-consuming for both sellers and buyers, and as a result, some buyers might avoid buying your home, and opt for the smooth sailing that comes with a real estate agent.

Selling homes for top market value and having a smooth sale is an intricate process.  It takes skill, time, knowledge and resources.  Most individuals who are professionals in other industries just don’t have the time to dedicate to learning and executing the process. Only 11% of homes were sold by FSBO in 2019 according to the NAR’s 2020 report.  Hiring the right agent can save you time and stress, and actually make you more than you pay them to begin with.

Source: https://www.nar.realtor/research-and-statistics/quick-real-estate-statistics

Oct. 29, 2020

What about a Downpayment?

So, you’ve been thinking about jumping into the housing market and buying your first home. You’ve already played around with an online mortgage payment calculator to get a range of how much mortgage you can afford and now you’re just wondering if you have to put any money down. Knowing your options is key to being able to buy as quickly as possible.


The first task is to create a plan. You need to know where you’re going so you can successfully plot your course. Let’s assume you’d like to purchase a home with a sales price of $250,000. Sometimes a down payment of at least 3% is required, but sometimes, it isn’t.


There is a whole lot of math involved in this process and things can get a bit overwhelming if you let all those numbers come at you without a plan of attack. We’ve come up with some simple steps to show you how easy it is to get that downpayment for your future forever home... it won’t take you 5 years to get there.


VA Loans

You may qualify for a VA loan if you’re an active-duty service member, member of the National Guard, veteran or the spouse of a deceased veteran. VA loans are backed by the Department of Veterans Affairs and are a great option if you want to buy a home with no down payment! VA loans also allow you to pay a one-time or finance VA funding fee that’s a small percent of your loan value so you don’t have to have mortgage insurance.


USDA Loans

A USDA loan is a loan backed by the United States Department of Agriculture. The government offers USDA loans to encourage development in rural and suburban areas. In order to encourage people to move into more rural areas, you can get a USDA loan with $0 down. USDA loans also have lower fees than other types of loans.


Both you and your home must meet a few criteria to qualify for a USDA loan. First, your home must be in a rural or suburban area. Check out the USDA’s map of eligible areas to find out if the area you’re looking in qualifies. On this map, anywhere outside of an orange zone qualifies as a rural area. In addition, your home cannot be a working farm, it must be a single-family unit and you must live in the home as your primary residence. You also need to meet a few financial requirements to qualify. 


The Verity Group can help you connect with a lender to find out if you meet the qualifications for one of these types of loans.


Relatives (or even Friends) Can Gift Funds to Help Save for a Downpayment

Lenders usually allow borrowers to use monetary gifts from family for a portion of the down payment. Typically, a Gift Letter is required from the family member who is giving the gift. 


Consider (Temporarily) Redirecting Your Retirement Savings

Another opportunity for down payment savings is to redirect a portion of your monthly retirement savings toward your down payment. Your retirement savings are an investment in your future, but so is owning a home. Using your retirement savings or 401k to buy a home is another temporary measure and if it doesn’t jeopardize your retirement in any way, it could be a great way to help you reach your downpayment goal even faster. Just make sure that after you reach your downpayment goal that you start putting money back towards your retirement.


Track Every Dime You Spend

Be watchful of places where there may be savings waiting to happen. Have you been thinking about trading in your old car for a newer model? See if you can put it off for after you buy your home and instead put that money into your down payment savings account. Nowadays, there are quite a number of apps that can help you track your spending. Mint, Wally, and MVelopes are just a few examples of what a budgeting app can offer you. Check out your App Store and you’ll find hundreds...you’re bound to see one that fits exactly what you need. 


There are many ways you can save for a downpayment to buy a home. The trick is to have a plan in place and find ways to save that will work for you. It’ll take time and determination, but soon you’ll be sipping coffee from your new back deck and then all the effort that went into accumulating your down payment will have been worth it. 


Posted in Home Buyers
Oct. 23, 2020

How to Write a Winning Offer

Okay, so you’ve found your dream house and now you’re ready to make an offer, but how do you make sure your offer stands out among all the others? You want to make your offer the most appealing so sellers go your way. So whether you’re dealing with a competitive housing market or a cautious seller, getting your offer accepted requires creativity, compromise, and a strong strategy. 


We’ve put together a strategic plan to help you seal the deal and make your dream home a reality.


Choose the Right Agent

Listing agents often look to see who is representing you.  Not all agents are created equal, and the sellers and their agent will often want to work with agents with whom they’ve worked before.  Having an agent with an established and credible reputation will boost your chances of getting your offer accepted.


Get Pre-Approved for a Home Loan with a Local Lender

Getting pre-approved will show the home seller you can actually afford to buy the home.  Sellers feel more secure with local lenders who are familiar with the area and have in-house underwriting.  Having the ability to contact your lender at each step of the process assures all parties that you are likely to close smoothly and on time.


It’s not all about the offer price!

In terms of numbers, the seller cares about their bottom line.  What do they make after paying off their mortgage, all fees, and concessions to you, their buyer.  You’ll want to work with your Verity Group agent to make sure that you are being strategic about the offer price, concessions asked for, repair expectations, etc.  Each property and scenario is different, and often we’re here to help you understand your best chance of success at getting your offer accepted.

Add an Escalation Addendum 

When making an offer on a house, you can stipulate that if anyone beats your offer you’ll raise your offer by a certain amount, with a cap as high as you’re willing to go. This also helps you avoid overpaying, but still keeps you in the game in case there are other offers coming in. It’s a more cautious approach to being competitive in what feels like a silent auction situation.


Increase Earnest Money

Your earnest money deposit in Hampton Roads is typically $500.00-$1,000.00 and goes towards any expenses you would incur at closing. By increasing the amount of earnest money you put down, you can show your financial ability thus allowing the seller to know you are more than qualified to purchase their home. 


Write a Personal Letter to the Seller 

Sometimes a personal offer letter can win a seller over when making an offer on a house, especially if you’re buying from an owner occupant. Tell them what you love about the home and try to make a personal connection. Compliment them on a recent renovation, a color palette choice, or the landscaping. It won’t always matter, but sometimes a personal touch such as a letter can mean more than having the highest bid.

Be Flexible with the Closing Date

If your lender allows and you’ve been through underwriting, you can promise to close quicker (15–21 days). Generally, the faster the closing process, the stronger your offer. However, the seller may be looking for a longer closing process. In that case, letting the home seller know that you’re flexible with the closing date could allow them the much needed time to move their belongings into their next house.

All of these are different ways to ensure you can make the best offer for your future home. Verity Group is here to help you with your strategy. Contact us today and let’s set up a plan!


Posted in offer