Buyer FAQ Resource Center

This page is a work in progress!  We’ve compiled this list of FAQs, and links to our resources, for the convenience of our buyers.  We always strive for well-educated clients — we want the process to be transparent and smooth!  We’ve included answers in italics below, or a link to a more detailed response.

Don’t see your question here or no link posted yet?  Just contact us!


Buyers: Searching for a Home

Which home search websites are best?  Always use a site that’s driven by data in the multiple listing service, like or a broker’s website.  Data on portals like zillow and trulia may not be accurate!

How do I choose a lender?  Should I shop lenders?  A reputable LOCAL lender also gives you an edge in negotiations because it increases the seller’s confidence that you will close smoothly and on time. Rates are *not* locked in until you have a contract. Once you have a ratified contract, you make your final selection on a lender—compare apples to apples on points, fees, rates.  The lender who has pre-approved you knows everything about your personal situation.  Online lenders are assuming the best scenario when showing rates, not necessarily YOUR scenario. Give the lender who preapproved you a chance to review and beat other quotes. Switching is a red flag to the seller and may impact your financing contingency.

Does shopping lenders hurt my credit score?

When is the best time to buy a house?

Open House Dos and Don’ts

Prequalification vs Preapproval



Buyers: Writing the Offer & Contingencies

How do I know if there is already an offer in?  The only way we’ll know is to contact the listing agent and ask.

How low is “too low”?  Will it offend the seller?

Will the seller pay my closing costs?

When does my earnest money deposit check get cashed?  Typically within 5 days of contract ratification.

Do I need a lead based paint test/inspection?

How do I choose a Settlement Company?

How do I choose a home inspector?  You’ll want to understand what he will inspect (and what he won’t), how  much it costs, and how detailed the report will be.  We can recommend some great inspectors if you need one!

How much do home inspections cost?

Can You Get a Better Deal Paying Cash for a House?

Is there a deadline for the seller to respond to my offer? No, but custom is usually 24-48 hours.  We always have the option to withdraw the offer if the seller is taking too long.

Can A Seller Shop My Offer to Other Buyers? 

Do I need a termite inspection?

What Is Radon and Why Should I Test for It?

Should I buy a home warranty?

What does the seller have to disclose to the buyer?  (Different answers, depending on whether you’re in Virginia, DC, or Maryland)


Buyers: From Contract to Close

What happens at the home inspection? (password protected & available to Wethman Group clients only)

What types of things will the home inspector find?

What should I ask the seller to fix from my home inspection?

What should I focus on during my condo/HOA doc review period?

Do I need to hire an attorney for settlement?

Do I need title insurance?    How much does it cost?

How should I take title?

Do I need a survey?  Do I need the corners marked?  For townhouses and single family homes, we always recommend a survey to know where the lot boundaries are, who owns the fences, etc.  If you’re planning to replace or install a fence, it’s also helpful to have the corners ‘marked’ for an additional fee.

What happens if the seller has not completed the repairs we negotiated?  Don’t panic!  This is why we do a walk through prior to settlement.  Sometimes a part wasn’t available or it was an oversight or misunderstanding.  While not ideal, we can usually work out a last minute solution.


Buyers: After Settlement

What happens if I find something wrong after settlement?  It depends on the state and the item, but usually the risk is with the new owner at that point. This is why the final walk through is so important.  But if it’s a material defect that the seller made attempts to conceal, then there may be recourse.  Also check to see if you  have a home warranty, which may cover appliances, HVAC, water heaters, and certain plumbing or electrical repairs in the first year of ownership. 

How much should I set aside for home maintenance?