first-time buyer
Nesbitt Realty helps first-time home-buyers realize their home-buying dreams.

Insurance is usually the last thing people worry about when they are buying a new home. According to the Insurance Information Institute, that’s a mistake, because it will be an expense a buyer will have as long as they own the property.

Here are some key issues that the institute urges every buyer to consider:

  • What is the condition of the plumbing and electrical systems? Older and poorly maintained systems cost more to insure.
  • How far is the home from the fire department? A location close to the station usually means lower insurance costs.
  • Does the property meet current building codes? Up-to-date properties are safer and also cheaper to insure.
  • What about wind damage? If insurance against windstorms is required, is private insurance available or will the buyer have to rely on a state-run program? If there a windstorm deductible, how high is it?
  • Is the home vulnerable to flooding? Floods aren’t covered under a standard homeowner policy, although most major insurers will provide it through the National Flood Insurance program. How much the insurance costs depends on where the property is. More information is available at FloodSmart.gov.
  • Is there earthquake risk? Earthquake insurance requires an endorsement or a separate policy.

There are five basic ground rules when it comes to buying a home and shopping smart, and they are:

#1 – Get your financing before you get your home

There are few things in life as disappointing as losing out on the home of your dreams due to not being able to secure funding. While the desire to get out there and search for that great home is understandable, it is vital to line up the financing you will need before you start shopping for a home.

Getting the financing ahead of time has a number of important advantages, including knowing how much you can buy and gain more respect from the listing agents. By knowing how much home you can afford before you shop you will avoid wasting your time looking at unaffordable properties, and the listing agent will be more than willing to show you the homes in your price range.

It is also important to take a good look at the various types of mortgage on the market before getting started in the home buying process. These days, mortgages come in far more choices than the typical 15 or 30 year. For that reason, potential home buyers need to understand how each type of mortgage works, and to gauge which mortgage is the best choice for their needs.

#2 – Look at the community, not just the home

It is a good idea to look at the entire community, instead of focusing on a single home. This can be a particularly important thing to consider for those moving to a new metropolitan area, as these buyers will be unfamiliar with the local climate and lifestyle. It is crucial to determine the areas of town that are most desirable, and to consider things like distance from work and local shopping opportunities.

We have all heard that location is the key consideration when it comes to real estate, and that is certainly the case. Buying a house in the wrong area can be a big mistake, and it is important to choose the location as well as the home. Potential buyers can learn a great deal about the nature of the various neighborhoods simply by driving around town, as well as by talking to other residents.

#3 – Be fair with your first offer

Trying to lowball a seller on the first offer can backfire, as can paying too much. It is important to carefully evaluate the local market, and to compare the asking price of the home with what similar houses in the neighborhood have sold for.

Comparing the sales of comparable homes, what are known as “comps” in the industry, is one of the best ways to determine what is fair, and to make sure that you neither overpay or underbid on the property.

#4 – Always get a home inspection

Always investigate the home for any possible defects before making an offer. Compared to the cost of the average home, the price of a quality home inspection is virtually negligible. Hence, get a good home inspection done before you buy.

To find the best home inspector, it is a good idea to seek out word of mouth referrals as many of the best home inspectors rely on word of mouth advertising.

#5 – Do not alienate the sellers of the home

Many real estate deals have fallen apart due to the personal animosity of the buyer and the seller. It is important to avoid alienating the seller of the home during the process, and to avoid nitpicking every little detail during the sale.

Keeping the goodwill of the seller will help the transaction go smoothly, and it will provide the best environment for seller and buyer alike.

[learn more about the home buying process]

Will is the principal broker of Nesbitt Realty and Condo Alexandria. He is licensed in anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but focuses on those communities found in and around Alexandria, Arlington, Mount Vernon and Springfield/Franconia.

Will has been involved in real estate management, sales and investment for more than twenty years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. While in the army, he studied Russian at Monterey’s Defense Language Institute. He is also a “veteran of the dotcom wars” and built most of the sites associated with NesbittRealty.com

Will currently resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Old Town, overlooking New Alexandria. He is a former president of the Mount Vernon Youth Athletic Association and founded the Alexandria Fun with Friends Group. Will is the author of BattlestorM, a tabletop fantasy game, which was published by Ral Partha Publishing in the late ’90’s, and Arthur’s Realm, a boardgame available at the Gamecrafter.

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These neighborhoods have that special mixture of luxurious homes with a desirable location. Many of these neighborhoods are served by the area's best public schools.

  • Arcturus -- Along the Potomac River near George Washington Parkway

  • Arlington Ridge -- Overlooking the capital's river valley

  • Belle Haven -- An established neighborhood of distinctive homes

  • Chesterbrook -- Elegant homes on quiet streets in Mclean

  • Clifton -- A place to find your micro-mansion

  • Great Falls --- Impressive residences with large lots

  • Langley -- Great schools, quiet neigbhoods

  • Rivercrest -- Stately homes on the Arlingwood bluff

  • Seminary Hill -- Impressive homes on large lots close to town

  • Yacht Haven -- Boater's paradise on the Potomac

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There is a certain charm to a historic neighborhood that you cannot find elsewhere. Many of these neighborhoods date to the colonial era.

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It's fun to live close to shops and restaurants.

  • Aurora Hieghts --- Near the Pentagon at the center of the region

  • Ballston --- Ballston Common Mall is at the center of this community

  • Clarendon --- Market Common Clarendon has many shops and restaurants

  • Fair Lakes -- Home of the Fair Oaks Mall and many nearby restaurants

  • Old Town --Well-known for boutiques, shops and restaurants

  • Pentagon City -- The Fashion Center at Pentagon City is a multi-level indoor mall surrounded by shops and restaurtants

  • Springfield -- Springfield Mall is being renovated and replaced by a brand new shopping center

  • Reston -- Reston Town Center is one of many shopping attractions here.

  • Tysons Corner -- Home to Tysons Corner Mall and the upscale Tysons II Galleria

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Are you looking for a home or condo near a metro station? Use our site to find properties close to Metro stations.


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Will is the principal broker of Nesbitt Realty and Condo Alexandria. He is licensed in anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia, but focuses on those communities found in and around Alexandria, Arlington, Mount Vernon and Springfield/Franconia.

Will has been involved in real estate management, sales and investment for more than twenty years. He is a veteran of the U.S. Army. While in the army, he studied Russian at Monterey’s Defense Language Institute. He is also a “veteran of the dotcom wars” and built most of the sites associated with NesbittRealty.com

Will currently resides in Belle Haven Estates just outside Old Town, overlooking New Alexandria. He is a former president of the Mount Vernon Youth Athletic Association and founded the Alexandria Fun with Friends Group. Will is the author of BattlestorM, a tabletop fantasy game, which was published by Ral Partha Publishing in the late ’90’s, and Arthur’s Realm, a boardgame available at the Gamecrafter.

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