Who knows what evil lurks behind the drywall and in the hearts of mortgage underwriters?
The Shadow knows.
The Shadow retired from his job as a radio crime fighter in 1954, but much like the superheroes of today, he possessed powers far beyond those of a normal human being: astonishing reflexes, the muscular control of a contortionist and the ability to alter his facial features to hide in plain sight or impersonate others.
As a hypnotist, The Shadow could “cloud men’s minds” and he could survive without air for hours.
Today he would probably make an excellent home inspector, battling the Wet Foundation Corporation as they attempt to infiltrate the research facility known as The Basement, where the Red Termite is planning the destruction of Capital City. But I digress.
Many local real estate agents now have a long list of clients in various stages of preparing to buy a home. Agents and buyers alike are anxiously awaiting a surge of inventory that we hope will spring up like cherry blossoms the moment the final dusting of snow trickles into the sewers of the District.
With more sellers dipping their proverbial toes into the market than last year, opportunities to buy exist, but as yet do not abound, resulting in a series of necessary evils with which a prospective homeowner must contend.
Altered Timelines: I used to be able to tell people who were renting to begin getting ready to buy about three months prior to the expiration of a lease. Now, due to increasingly cumbersome aspects of mortgage lending and the dearth of available homes in nearly every price range, I advise them to double that timeline, especially if they are just beginning their search online or starting to visit open houses to get a sense of what their money will buy in different parts of the metropolitan area.
Many buyers commonly treat open house sign-in sheets as one of the necessary evils of the buying process, scribbling illegible names and email addresses or providing incorrect telephone numbers so they won’t be contacted by agents before they’re ready to take the next step.
In the current, fast-paced market, however, it’s critical to align oneself with a buyer’s agent earlier in the process to obtain the professional guidance needed for success. As you fine-tune your list of wants, needs and neighborhoods, your agent lurks in the shadows like Progressive’s Flo, seeking opportunities for you on and off-market and quickly spiriting you away to each new listing even before it hits your inbox.
If you last obtained a mortgage loan even as little as three years ago, you’ll encounter new rules and procedures that will make you feel as if Big Brother is not only watching, but is holding you down and slapping you silly while stripping away your last shred of privacy in a Vulcan mind-meld.
While interest rates remain low, easy access to that money is a thing of the past. Documentation is the name of the game and if you think your bank’s underwriter is kidding when he asks for written evidence of every transaction of more than $1,000 entering or leaving your bank account, you’re so wrong.
Within the Beltway, chances are nearly 100 percent that you’ll be competing with other buyers for a choice property, so break open the piggy bank and get ready for a dazzling Cirque du Soleil tightrope walk as your agent crafts your offer, helping you balance financial limitations and protective contract clauses against your desire to beat the competition and buy the home.
First Day Out
If you find “The One” on your first day of shopping, trust your gut and go for it. If you need to analyze it against your search criteria, do so quickly, because another one like it may not come along for a while. Sometimes the first offer is the charm and sometimes it’s the sixth, but even a loss will arm you with new negotiating strategies and increase your comfort level with the process.
As a respected superhero, The Shadow knows that crime doesn’t pay. As your trusted adviser, your real estate agent knows that buyer procrastination and indecision does pay — probably at least 5 percent more to the seller of the next property you like.
Valerie M. Blake is with Keller Williams Capital Properties. Reach her at 202-246-8602 or at Valerie@DCHomeQuest.com. Each Keller Williams Realty office is independently owned and operated. Equal Housing Opportunity.
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