Buyers: Want the Home of Your Dreams? Assemble Your Dream Team!

These days, home is more important than ever. That is evidenced by the many seeking to buy and the few wanting to sell. For those planning to buy in Arlington, the competition is fierce. Decisions need to be made quickly, often with imperfect information. Anything that you can do ahead of time will better inform those decisions. The buyers that succeed in securing the home of their dreams are the ones who put a team of professionals together from the start to support them every step of the way. Here are the key members of the buyer’s dream team:


Realtor. While this may seem obvious, I cannot stress enough how important it is to hire a Realtor in this competitive market. With the advent of online real estate search websites, some buyers may think they can go it alone. Identifying a home is such a small part of what Realtors do. Your Realtor is a trusted advisor who can help you navigate each step of the way through the home buying process and beyond. Your Realtor can give you a realistic sense of what is happening in the market, use their expertise to develop a strong negotiation strategy, handle the contract paperwork, manage the contract to close period, and help you assemble the rest of your dream team! Click here for a list of the many things that Realtors can do for their clients.

Whom you choose matters. For example, not every real estate agent is a Realtor®. A Realtor® is a member of the National Association of Realtors® and subscribes to its strict Code of Ethics, which goes beyond the standards associated with obtaining a real estate license. I am proud to be a Realtor® and would love to help, so give me a call!



Lender. Unless you are paying in cash, you will need to choose a lender in order to finance the purchase. I highly recommend choosing your lender and getting pre-approved before you start touring homes. In this market, you will not be able to secure a home without including a pre-approval letter with your offer.

Some buyers focus solely on which lender can give them the best rate, but there is so much more to consider. For those focused on the bottom line, make sure to compare not only rates but also if there are points required to secure those rates and lender fees. In addition to the bottom line, you need to make sure your lender is able to move your loan through the underwriting process quickly so that you can close quickly. Many sellers want this – a quick closing date can be the difference between a strong offer and a winning offer. Beyond that, it is important to find someone who is a good fit. If your lender is not a good communicator, you might not understand what you are getting yourself into. If your lender is hard to reach, you might not have what you need when it is time to make an offer. A final quality to look for is whether your lender is a problem solver or a paper pusher. I have learned that those lenders who think outside of the box are great at running multiple scenarios to customize the best loan for their clients and if problems arise at any stage during the process, they can help solve them.



Title Company. In a residential real estate transaction, the title company provides settlement services (e.g., title searches, title examination, title insurance, surveys, document preparation, attorney review, etc.) that are necessary to bring a contract to close. The selection of the title company is the buyer’s choice. While it is not necessary to choose your title company before you get started with your home search, you do have to identify the title company you plan to use when you submit your offer. By establishing a relationship with your chosen title company early in your search process, you will have a chance to learn about all the services they provide, as well their general rates or fees, well before you make an offer.

Don’t know who to contact? TTR Sotheby’s International Realty has a strategic partnership with KVS Title, the D.C. Metro area’s most trusted provider of settlement services. KVS has an office right in the heart of Clarendon. Click here to learn more.


Pre-COVID closing day at KVS in Arlington


Home Inspector. A home inspector is a critical member of the buyer’s dream team. When a home inspection contingency is included in a residential sales contract, the home inspection takes place shortly after the contract is signed. The inspection allows the buyer to discover defects and/or items in need of repair. The contingency gives the buyer the option to terminate the contract if items of concern are found.  Or, if the terms provide for it, the parties can reach an agreement that the seller will make repairs or provide a credit.

In a highly competitive market like ours, some buyers do not include an inspection contingency with their offer. They might engage a home inspector to inspect the property prior to making the offer. Some decline to do an inspection altogether. Even if you do not do an inspection in connection with a home purchase, it is important to involve a home inspector, at least after you officially own the home. As sellers are required to disclose very little about a home’s condition, it is in your best interest to identify if your home is in need of any repairs.

Whatever home inspection strategy you employ, it is a good idea to select your home inspector as early in your home search process as you can. You don’t always know when you might want to bring someone in. While hourly rate is an important consideration in choosing an inspector, you should also try to find someone who communicates well. Inspection items can be highly technical, so it is important to find someone who you can understand. In fact, you should identify a few such inspectors before you ever consider making an offer. Decisions about inspections often have to happen very quickly, and the inspections themselves have to be scheduled on short notice. Having done your homework early and having multiple inspectors to choose from in a crunch will ensure you are covered when you need it.



Homeowner’s Insurance Provider. Often as a condition of your loan, once you are under contract, you will need to put a homeowner’s insurance policy in place. It is helpful to educate yourself as much as possible about the different policies available and identify an insurance provider (or at least make a list of a few to consult) as early as you can. That way you will have less to worry about during the transaction.


Moving Company. If you don’t plan to do the move yourself, try to select your moving company (or at least make a list of companies to contact) before you go under contract. If you do this early, you may not have a moving or location date yet, but you should be able to get at least a ballpark estimate of what your costs will be. Then, once you are under contract you will be ahead of the game. In any event, make sure to secure a date with your moving company as soon as you have determined your move-in date.



There is so much that happens during the course of a real estate transaction. The earlier you select your dream team of trusted professionals, the better educated you will be about each aspect of the process and the less you will have to scramble once you are under contract. As a Realtor with TTR Sotheby’s International Realty, I have had the opportunity to work with the best of the best in every category above. If you need help putting your dream team together, please give me a call!


  • The latest from Jennifer
Jennifer Jo is a well-regarded and respected Northern Virginia Realtor based in the Arlington Office of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty. She works closely with her business partner (and sister) Maggie Toole to guide buyers and sellers through the real estate process. Before devoting herself to a career in Real Estate, Jennifer spent fifteen years as an Attorney at the U.S. Department of State. She was also an Adjunct Professor at American University’s Washington College of Law. As a Realtor, she draws on the skills developed as an attorney and professor to advocate for and advise her clients. With access to the vast resources of TTR Sotheby’s International Realty and her own network of contacts, Jennifer focuses on bringing a luxury experience to her clients, regardless of price point. “I like to spoil my clients – I am so grateful to them because they allow me to do what I love!”

TTR Sotheby’s International Realty is regarded as one of the highest-performing real estate firms in the United States. With nine offices and over 450 sales associates across Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia, our commitment to professional service, integrity, and community leadership allowed us to capture more than $3.17 Billion in closed sales in 2018, while also serving as one of Washington D.C.’s foremost leaders in corporate philanthropy.


Jennifer Jo
TTR Sotheby’s International Realty
2300 Clarendon Blvd., Suite 200 
Arlington, Virginia 22201




  1. Avatar Emily O Kimm says:

    Jen was our realtor in 2018–and the best one we’ve ever had! She was loyal, honest, ethical and fun! She has great knowledge and contacts, so she really can help you find good folks in all of the above categories. She was clear and kept what could be an overwhelming process practically stress-free. If you’re buying or selling, Jen should be your first call. She’ll walk you through all the rest!

  2. Jennifer Jo Jennifer Jo says:

    Thank you for the kind words Emily – this made my day!

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