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Frequently Asked Questions

1. Why do I need a real estate agent to sell my home?
Due to a host of laws and disclosures governing the transfer of property in the state of Virginia, a real estate agent is your best guide through this maze of laws and documents. Representation by a real estate agent will minimize oversights and ensure a smooth transaction.

2. Why do I need a real estate agent to buy a home?
Not only will a real estate agent protect your interest and champion your cause, but will ensure that you are not paying too much for your home. An experienced agent should be able to identify any material defects such as polybutylene pipes, aluminum wiring and lead based paint. Any of these problems would result in costly repairs and hazards to you and your family.

3. What does an agent do to market my home?
Every real estate agent has his or her own marketing plan. Speaking for myself, I have developed a superior marketing plan. Not only do I use conventional forums of marketing by advertising in local publications, real estate magazines and television ads, I assign your property its own web address to be marketed. I execute an extensive profile of your buyer and target mass mailings in those communities. Through experience I am able to develop tailored marketing plans for every client.

4. How can I buy a home without a down payment?
I have a team of preferred lenders that have numerous programs so you can buy with No Money Down!

5. Why should I pay 6% to sell my home?
You shouldn't! All commissions are negotiable. It is my belief that a home in good condition, in a fair to strong market should never have a 6% commission. In recession markets, 6% commissions may be warranted.

6. Why do I need a buyer agreement?
Agency is required by Virginia law for real estate agents. Upon discussing property, agency must be disclosed. If you, the buyer, want to be represented the law requires a buyer agency disclosing to you the fees and responsibility of the agent. It is a contract to represent you.

7. Will agents show my home if the listing is less than 6%?
Of course! Any agent, who would put his monetary interest above that of his buyer, should not be licensed. This is made clear in the administrative codes of Virginia and a ruling from the Virginia Real Estate Board.

8. How do I know which lender has the best rate for me?
Do not concentrate on rates. Often times hidden fees such as points, broker fees, etc. result in you, the buyer, paying more than if you had gone with the slightly higher rate. Rates are important, but are not the only factor to be considered when shopping for a loan.

9. Why shouldn't I use my neighbor who is a real estate agent?
Most agents in the Washington Metropolitan area know your community as well. The perception that the agent who is a resident knows the community and can better market your home is an archaic one. There are many factors involved in choosing a real estate agent that will best represent you and your real estate needs. Remember this is a business relationship and sometimes an agent who knows you and your home personally may not always be the right choice.

10. Which lender do I use?
Use the lender that is also looking out for your best interest. Mark Hastings preferred lenders are strictly consumer oriented. Their proven satisfaction record will be able to council you in the best programs and rates to achieve your goals.

11. Who should I list my home with?
You should choose a real estate agent who will aggressively price your home, discount his commissions when warranted, is technology driven and who has a proven track record. You should choose Mark Hastings.

12. Can I choose my own lender and Title Company?
Yes you can! Under the Consumer Real Estate Settlement Protection Act (CRESPA), you can select whomever you wish to finance your home and conduct your settlement.

13. How important is it to update my home before selling?
Well that depends on the condition of your home. Flooring and neutral colors are always a plus and old appliances should be replaced, the gain will far out way the cost of these improvements. For your free, no obligation review, please contact Mark Hastings.

14. What is a RESPA, ABA, or CBA disclosure?
A RESPA , ABA or CBA disclosure occurs when the broker of a real estate agent has an agreement with either the title company, lender or both. This may mean additionally money, above the agreed upon commissions by buyers and sellers. The Mark Hastings Team believes customer service is more important than receiving money from these institutions. We have NO such arrangements.

15. What is a transaction fee?
A transaction fee is a scam. In addition to commission, it is a fee for the broker or real estate agent. We find this sometimes hidden fee as an affront to the customer or client. Virginia real estate law requires as part of doing business, certain activities to occur. To charge extra for these services is ridiculous and in no way provides for any additional services to the consumer or client.

16. My Buyer Agency Agreement requires a retainer. How much should it be?
None! Zero! The Mark Hastings team does not believe in taking retainers. If you are not happy with the services of your agent, what happens to your retainer? In addition to the commissions, how much money are you willing to give to that real estate agent? We do not require or request retainers.

17. Should I sign a listing agreement for one year?
NO! I cannot possibly see any reasonably experienced agent that would think that it would take a year to sell your home. These long duration listings should be viewed as a lack of confidence in his ability.

18. Will I get a better deal by using the listing agent of the home I want to buy?
No! In fact, a good listing agent owes it to his seller to make you pay more than you would have, had you had a buyer's representative. The function of a listing agent is to get the most from the buyer for his seller.

19. Can I withdraw my listing if I change my mind?
Generally the answer is yes. You may need to speak with an attorney. No one can make you sell your home if you don't want to sell. Some agents claim that this is a contract and you must sell. This is not necessarily true. While this is a contract defining agency and compensation, it is in no way a contract that would make you sell your home. Once again you should have an attorney review all your listing documents.

20. Who do I call if something breaks after settlement?
A good buyer's agent would have made sure your post settlement interests were protected through a variety of insurance plans, paid for by the seller. Otherwise, unless there was a known defect concealed to you, the problem would be yours to solve.

21. Do I have to have a home inspection and disclose the condition of my property prior to sale?
The answer is no. Virginia requires that you either disclose the condition of the property, as you know it, OR make a disclaimer making no warranties as to the condition of the property and stating that the property conveys as is. We are not licensed to practice law, so we cannot tell you which would be in your best interest. But, when we sell our own properties, we use the disclaimer.

22. What happens if I discover a significant structural problem after settlement?
A good buyer's agent would have recommended a home inspection that would have disclosed the structural problem and required the seller to correct it prior to settlement. Otherwise, you should consult an attorney for possible misrepresentations or omissions.

23. Is it true that Virginia is a Megan Law state?
Kinda….Virginia gives the seller the option to disclose OR to make no representations with respect to registered sexual offenders on adjacent parcels. You may call the state police at 804-674-2000 or www.vsp.state.va.us/vsp.htnl to investigate these matters yourself. We strongly urge you to use due diligence with respect to registered sexual offenders. Ultimately, it is the purchaser's responsibility to investigate these matters.

24. I claimed bankruptcy 2 years ago; can I still buy a home?
Probably yes! While each case must be addressed individually, Mark Hastings preferred lenders are experienced in this situation. Often people who have filed bankruptcy, and those with less than perfect credit, may get mortgages, and actually improve their credit rating as a result of a mortgage process. For further information contact my office for more details on how to buy a home with a prior bankruptcy.

25. My credit has problems; can I still get a loan?
Yes! Many of our lenders have programs tailored for the client with problem credit, as well as, often times can counsel you on how to clear derogatory credit comments. Most people, no matter how credit worthy they may be, will be faced with a credit problem. These are routine items that when responded to properly should not effect your ability to obtain a mortgage.

26. Should I get pre-qualified or pre-approved before I start looking for a home? What's the difference?
You should be approved for both. Pre qualifying is a first step in the buyer agent process (you can pre-qualify yourself in the mortgage area section on this website). This first step ensures that the agent is looking for a house that you can afford. Pre-qualification is generally considered to be the least desirable means of demonstrating credit worthiness. Following the pre-qualification the agent should have you pre-approved through a lender. Our preferred lenders can do this within 24 hours. This now demonstrates the amount of a mortgage that you CAN obtain. Usually this is conditional on an appraisal of the property that you choose to buy. This is a much stronger means of demonstrating credit worthiness since the loan is already approved.

27. What happens if I sign a contact and the home does not appraise for the sales price?
Do I have to pay the difference? You do not have to pay the difference. A good buyer's agent would make sure that verbiage is added so that seller may 1) lower the price of the contract and 2) let you out of the contract. Some agents do not use this verbiage, in which case, you would be responsible to pay the difference. We do not believe that causing our clients to buy an overpriced property is in their best interest.

28. I have heard stories about property owner associations, how do I know these rules and regulations and what if I don't like them?
The laws that regulate property owner associations disclosures are dynamic and changing. You as a purchaser upon the execution of a contract are entitled to receive and review those rules and regulations and assessments. Upon your receipt of this package you have 3 days to review these documents and determine if they are satisfactory. Upon your notification that they are not satisfactory, your contract is rendered null and void. Your obligation to buy ceases.

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