Newbies to Homeowners in One Month

When first-time home buyers Danny and Andreea attended Redfin’s DC area home buying class on March 25th, they didn’t know much about buying a home. By the end of the class, they felt a little more comfortable: the next day they got pre-approved, started touring homes, made a couple offers, and ended up buying their first home just one month later.

Danny & Andreea's new home

Danny & Andreea's new home

Danny & Andreea’s Story

We had been looking at homes on Redfin and monitoring the Redfin DC real estate forum since early March. We liked being in control of our search, but had questions about how pre-approval would affect our credit score and were unsure about market conditions. It seemed like the right time for us to buy since prices and mortgage rates are low and we know we’re going to live in our home for a while.

We attended Redfin’s home buying class and met with Redfin agent Fernando Ferrufino and local lender Steve Fox. We had some concerns about whether pre-approval would lower our credit score. Steve answered all our questions and explained to us that pre-approval would last for 90 days without affecting our score. He told us that it’s an important first step in figuring out how much we can afford and assures home sellers that we’re qualified buyers. The next day, Steve helped us get pre-approved and we started touring homes with Redfin in Fairfax, Burke, Springfield and Annadale. We originally made an offer on a home with a pool, but after attending another open house in Fairfax one weekend early in April, we knew we’d found the right place. It just clicked.

Fernando worked hard to help us draft an offer on the home over the weekend. There were three others on the table, one even $100 higher than ours, but Fernando wrote a great contract, pitched it well and the sellers chose us!

Advice for Fellow First-Time Buyers

1. Lock down your finances early in your home search: we used to check our credit score. They offer free service for 30 days and we canceled the subscription before the free period ended. Also, get pre-approved right away so you know your target price range before you waste too much time searching for homes that you can’t afford.
2. Shop for mortgage loans: we used to monitor rate changes and signed up for rate alert emails from the Wachovia Mortgage Center. Research a few different lenders to make sure you’re getting the loan with the best rate and terms. We went with Steve Fox, but also checked the estimates online and exchanged emails with lenders from our New Jersey credit unit (Affinity FCU), Bank of America, Wachovia and Wells Fargo. Here are important questions to ask lenders:

  • When am I committed to working with you?
  • What’s the down payment?
  • What are my monthly rates?
  • How often will you communicate with my agent to ensure an on-time closing?

3. Ask lots of questions: examine each contract and make sure you understand everything. I never sign anything I don’t read. There will be a lot of fine print, but don’t be afraid to ask about all the details. During the whole process, Fernando was always patient and incredibly responsive! All his advice helped us win this one from the beginning, even with competing offers. Thanks to Fernando, we learned a lot about the home buying process and everything is clear now, no questions unanswered. We would definitely recommend Fernando and Redfin to anybody asking us about an agent!

Danny and Andreea will move into their new home in early June and plan on claiming their first-time home buyer tax credit when they file their tax returns later this year. If any other recent buyers would like to share their experiences, just let us know!

  • Brandon

    Congrats to Danny and Andreea!

  • Clint

    Isn’t the deadline November 30, 2009? That’s what the link says.

  • Lisa Taylor

    Hi Clint,

    Sorry for the confusion! Danny and Andreea decided to wait and file their 2008 tax returns by the October 15, 2009 deadline and will claim the credit then.

    The last day you can buy a home and still be eligible for the credit is indeed November 30, 2009. I edited the post to be more clear.

    Thanks for reading!