Real Estate 101


Whether you are a first-time homebuyer or an experienced investor, market dynamics are constantly changing and can be nearly impossible to keep up with. Having a real estate professional help guide you through the process can make your transaction go more smoothly. 

With New Leaf Team, you'll benefit from having 3 REALTORS® on your side to preview new listings or come up with pricing and marketing strategies for your home. And you'll never have to worry about missing the chance to negotiate an offer because your agent isn't around. Each member of our team will be kept up-to-date on your search or sale and can easily step in to help where needed. This dynamic has allowed us to turn relationships with our clients into friendships that extend beyond the real estate transaction.

Here are 8 reasons why you should use a REALTOR® for your real estate transaction. 

  1. The REALTOR® code of ethics.
    REALTORS® are not just agents. They are professional members of the National Association of REALTORS®. Every REALTOR® must adhere to a strict code of ethics, which is based on professionalism and protection of the public. As a REALTOR®'s client, you can expect honest and ethical treatment in all transaction-related matters. With New Leaf Team, you'll benefit from having three REALTORS® working to help you realize your real estate goals.

  2. Expert guidance through the process.
    Buying or selling a home typically requires many forms, reports, disclosures, and other technical documents. A knowledgeable expert will help you prepare the best deal and avoid delays or costly mistakes.

  3. Objective information and opinions.
    REALTORS® can provide local information on utilities, zoning, and more. They also have objective information about each property which helps them come up with pricing and marketing strategies for a property. By understanding a buyer's needs and search area, they can also point out neighborhoods that buyers may not know much about but that might suit their needs better than they thought.

  4. Up-to-date experience.
    Most people sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each sale. Even if you've done it before, laws and regulations change frequently. At New Leaf Team, we have three full-time agents who have worked on hundreds of transactions in their careers. When they aren't working with clients, they take classes and certifications to stay on top of the latest laws and regulations and gain knowledge to help our clients through any situation.

  5. Property marketing power.
    Marketing a home is about more than just writing a description and posting on a website. A REALTOR® can help you start impressing potential buyers from the moment they first learn about your home. From professional photographs to virtual staging and tours, there are many ways New Leaf Team can help you showcase the best features of your home to potential buyers. And when your home is listed by a REALTOR®, you will know that everyone who comes to view your home is accompanied by a licensed real estate agent.

  6. Expanded search power.
    In the Charlottesville area, a property that is listed as "Coming Soon" in MLS cannot be seen by the public. Working with a real estate agent means you can learn about these properties and be prepared for viewings before the listing goes live to the public. REALTORS® can also help you avoid out-of-date listings that might be showing up as available online but are no longer on the market.

  7. Negotiation knowledge.
    The negotiations don't end once a home is under contract. A REALTOR® will look at every angle from your perspective and will craft a purchase agreement that allows you the flexibility you need to take that next step.

  8. Your rock during emotional moments.
    A home is so much more than four walls and a roof. And for most people, property represents the biggest purchase they'll ever make. Whether you are buying a first home or downsizing your family home, you deserve to have someone on your side who can provide an objective opinion and help you stay focused on the issues that matter most to you.

Ready to work with New Leaf Team? Give us a call at 434-214-6121 to speak with one of our agents. We look forward to working with you!


We know that buying a home can be a confusing process, especially if this is your first time going through the process or if it has been many years since your last real estate transaction. We've explained a few common terms that a buyer might hear during a real estate transaction, especially in the Charlottesville area, below.

A deposit made by the prospective purchaser to show that they are serious about buying the property. While you are not legally required to make an earnest money deposit, it is customary in & around the Charlottesville area. The deposit amount, which is not a set amount, is typically due within 5 days of ratification. The purchaser's brokerage typically holds the deposit until settlement, at which point the funds are released to the purchaser's closing agent who then contributes that amount towards the sale.

If for some reason the transaction does not reach a successful closing, the seller may have the right to go after the deposit (and potentially more in some cases), but it should not be assumed that seller has an immediate right to the money, as is often the misconception.

A home inspection (or most any inspection) of the property typically occurs after the purchaser and seller have agreed to all terms of the contract. A home inspector evaluates the structural and mechanical components of the property, and provides a written report including concerns and recommendations. Our agents can help our purchasers to select and schedule the home inspection within the allotted time per the contract. Typically home inspections can take anywhere from 2-4 hours and the purchasers are encouraged to attend the inspection while sellers are asked to leave the property. The reports are usually available the same day or following day and the fees are due at the time of the inspection.

These inspections typically do not include well, septic, termite, specialty items (pools, hot tubs, etc.) or hazardous materials (radon, lead paint, asbestos, mold, etc.), but the purchaser has the right to order separate inspections as allowed by the terms of the contract. In Virginia, with only a few exceptions, the seller is required to provide the purchaser with a termite (pest) inspection/report and well report if applicable.

"Formal" (not just speaking with your lender) loan application is due within 5 days of all parties signing the contract. Although you may have already been pre-qualified with your lender, you will still need to provide documentation to get the loan process started. At this point, you will likely be asked to pay for the appraisal of the property. An appraisal is an opinion of value that is completed by a professional appraiser who visits and inspects the size, condition, function and quality of the home. It is ordered by the lender within a few days of the date you apply for your loan.

We recommend speaking with a lender and getting pre-approved for a mortgage before you begin your home search so you know exactly what you will be comfortable spending on a mortgage payment and can quickly make an offer when you are ready. Our team is always glad to recommend lenders that may be able to help you with your transaction.

The closing agent can be an attorney or professional settlement expert who facilitates the closing. The purchaser has a right to select their own closing agent in Virginia and the closing agent will represent the purchaser in reviewing all documents, coordinating closing with the lender and Seller's Attorney, Title and Hazard Insurance Companies, ordering the survey, and recording the sale at the Clerk's office. A purchaser should anticipate very little contact with the closing agent until a couple of weeks prior to closing. In Charlottesville, the closing agent can be an attorney or settlement company. Both handle the closing process the same and have similar fees, however; an attorney can give legal advice where a settlement company cannot. 

A policy a homeowner (or seller) pays for that provides for discounted repair and replacement service on a home's major systems or components. Coverage varies by policy and may include the furnace, HVAC system, plumbing, and electrical systems.

If the seller does not have a physical survey to provide, the purchaser may want to consider a survey before closing. A lender may even require one as part of loan or title requirements. An attorney or title company should talk about this more in depth and take care of ordering.

If, of course, you have any questions regarding other terms in the contract or through the transaction, we are always happy to provide explanations.

We will only recommend products or services that we and/or our colleagues at Montague, Miller & Co. Realtors believe are genuinely helpful. We do not accept payment or referral fees for recommendations. Our recommendations are only suggestions of third-party products or services. These recommendations do not come with a guarantee or warranty of any kind.

If you have questions about what any of these terms mean or are looking for recommendations on someone to help you with some of these tasks, our agents are always glad to help. Call us at 434-214-6121 to speak with one of our agents about your questions.


Whether you're going across town or across the country, moving can be a stressful time. Below are some things to remember as you prepare for your move that can make the process go a little more smoothly. 

Update your mailing address

  • Go to or fill out a change-of-address form at your local post office.

  • Plan ahead! Mail forwarding may begin within 3 business days of your request, but it can take up two weeks.

Change your address with important service providers

  • Start with your banks, credit companies, & magazine subscriptions.

  • Tell your job to update your address for their records and to make sure they have a forwarding address if you are changing jobs with your move.

  • Don't forget to update your shipping address for places you frequently shop online or order delivery from. 

Create a list of people who will need your new address

  • Whether you are planning on a formal change-of-address notice in the mail or just a friendly e-mail to friends & family, make sure you let people know your new address.

Contact utility companies

  • Make sure you contact all of your new utility providers to set up service for your new home.

    If you are buying a new home, you want to start your service the day of the closing.

    If you are renting, make sure to set up utilities for the first day of your lease.

  • Don't forget to contact the utility companies to stop service at your old home and tell them where to send your final bill.

Unplug, disassemble, & clean appliances

  • Make sure any appliances (big or small) that are moving with you are properly disassembled and cleaned prior to moving. No one wants toaster crumbs getting all over their new home while they unload and unpack.

Pack an "open first" box

  • Make sure it has the items that you will need the most:

    • toilet paper
    • hand soap
    • towels
    • trash bags
    • chargers
    • box cutters & scissors
    • tools such as a hammer & screwdriver
    • pens & paper
    • cups & plates
    • water
    • snacks
    • basic toiletries

Extra tips if you're moving long distance

  • Obtain copies of important records from your doctors, dentist, pharmacy, veterinarian, and children's schools.

  • If you have a safe deposit box at a local bank, don't forget to empty it of your valuables and close the box.

  • Plan out your route and any overnight stops that you will need to make on the trip. Make sure to send a copy of the itinerary to a family member or friend.

We hope these tips make your move go more smoothly! If you need any referrals for movers or other moving services, our team would be glad to help you with suggestions. Call us at 434-214-6121. 

Login to My Homefinder

Login to My Homefinder