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10 Real Estate Terms You Should Know Before You Buy in Hampton Roads

There are many confusing terms in the home buying and selling process. Before you start your search on REIN.com for your dream home, educate yourself on industry lingo with these 10 terms.

1. Broker: The road to finding your perfect home takes many key players. The real estate broker is a real estate agent that has taken their education to the next level in order to receive a state real estate broker license. They can work as independent agents or have agents who work for them. Some hold titles such as Managing Broker or Principal Broker and oversee the agents at their particular office or firm. They are trained to know the ins and outs of real estate law. Agents who pass the broker exam but choose to work under another broker will have the title of Associate Broker. In Hampton Roads, the broker is the member of the Multiple Listing Service (REIN), and therefore, so are their agents.

2. Agent: A real estate agent is one who has passed their state’s real estate licensing exam and is a part of a local brokerage. Agents can represent both buyers, sellers, or renters. Some even distinguish themselves as buyers agents or listing agents, depending on their independent business models. A buyers agent will review your wants and needs in your dream home and assist you in navigating available inventory within your local market. The listing agent represents someone selling their home and assists with marketing the property. Agent representation is extremely important as these professionals are skilled to sift through Multiple Listing Service (MLS) results, tap into industry resources, negotiate terms of sale, complete your legal paperwork, and make your forever home a reality.

Broker versus Agent comparison

3. MLS: The Multiple Listing Service (MLS) compiles home listings directly from the real estate broker or agent. REIN (or Real Estate Information Network) is the MLS in Hampton Roads. The MLS has the most accurate, up-to-date listing information in the 757. Search REIN’s inclusive database on REIN.com.

4. Active Contingent: This is an important piece of the puzzle you may come across in your home search. Contingencies are conditions that need to be met by a buyer or seller before moving forward with the transaction. If the conditions aren’t met, the sale could potentially fall through. If you fall in love with a property that’s marked Active Contingent (or says “Contingency Yes”) it means that someone already has an offer on that property. If it’s a home that you know you can’t live without, it’s best to talk to your real estate agent ASAP. Currently, inventory is low in our market. Your agent can communicate and help you submit a backup offer or a sight unseen offer if desired- so don’t give up hope just yet! In the meantime, “Favorite” the property in your REIN.com account and keep looking, just in case.

5. Attached/Detached: The terms attached and detached are used to describe a home and its proximity to another property. A shared wall, ceiling, or breezeway can cause the home to be described as attached. Detached means the home sits on its own lot. You may see this same description applied to garages.

6. Flood Zones & Insurance: The Tidewater region is prone to flooding and tidal surges. Flood zones come in several classifications mandated by FEMA. Since there are neighborhoods in our area that can flood during heavy rains, it’s best to speak to your local real estate agent. They will have MLS tools needed to help you navigate whether flood insurance is needed. It’s mandatory for homeowners in flood zones as standard homeowners’ insurance will not be enough in this situation. If you are curious about the flood zones, FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center website can help!

7. AICUZ Noise & Crash: AICUZ stands for the Air Installation Compatible Use Zone. It’s purpose is to protect the safety of communities near airport environments from noise zones and crash hazard areas. Anyone selling or leasing property in these Hampton Roads may need to provide the proper disclosure to prospective buyers. It’s mandatory for Virginia Beach, Chesapeake, and Norfolk.

8. HOA/POA: HOA stands for Home Owner’s Association. The HOA consists of a group of homes in a community that conform to certain rules and regulations. Membership is mandatory for residence and includes monthly fees. Fees are used to maintain common areas such as community pools or golf courses. POA stands for Property Owner’s Association. A POA can include both residential properties and businesses. The focus of the POA is on zoning regulations and development projects within a designated town. You can filter your search on REIN.com by HOA/POA fees if you want to make this a requirement in your home search results or exclude them from your home search results.

9. Pre-qualified: Being pre-approved and pre-qualified are often used interchangeably but are two very different steps in the mortgage process. Getting pre-qualified is step 1. It takes data you have submitted to a lender and gives you an estimate of what you could borrow. It’s not your committed amount.

10. Pre-approved: Getting pre-approved is step 2. You will fill out a mortgage application along with the submission of necessary financial documentation for the lender to give you a commitment in writing with an exact loan amount.

Pre-approved versus pre-qualified

It’s always a good idea to connect with a local expert in the Hampton Roads area to bring even more clarity to the terms above and the overall home buying process. REIN.com has 8,000 agents with over 80,000 years of combined experience to help you find your dream home. Happy house hunting!

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