Buying a House in West Virginia? Here Are 8 Steps Real Estate Experts Recommend

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By Jamie Ayers Updated February 1, 2024

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8 Steps to Buying a House in West Virginia

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Now that the housing market is finally calming down after the pandemic[1], buyers are facing a new challenge: Soaring mortgage rates.[2]

In West Virginia, the average 30-year fixed mortgage rate is 7.01% — up from 2021's historic lows. This raises the average monthly mortgage payment to $812 (assuming a 20% down payment at the median home value).

But buying a home in West Virginia is still possible, even for first-time home buyers. Many markets are seeing frequent price drops and fewer offers, giving motivated buyers the upper hand in negotiating for the best price.

In this guide, you’ll learn how to buy a house in West Virginia with confidence no matter what the market brings. Learn why you can trust our advice.

Whether you're actively house hunting or just starting to browse homes on Zillow, it's never too early to find a great local realtor to guide you on your search. An experienced agent can help you navigate a tricky housing market, explore your financial options, and negotiate the best deal possible.

Best of all, hiring a real estate agent comes at no extra cost to you — since the seller typically pays both their listing agent and your buyer's agent.

Ready to find a great local realtor, but not sure where to start? The best (and easiest!) option is to try a free agent matching service like Clever Real Estate. Answer a few simple questions about your home buying goals, and Clever will match you with hand-picked agents from Keller Williams, RE/MAX, and other top brokerages in your area. Find a top local agent and make your home buying dreams a reality today!

Step 1: Save for a down payment

🔑 Key takeaway:

Your down payment can be less than 20% of the purchase price — $30,475 for the typical home in West Virginia — but you'll have to purchase mortgage insurance and pay more interest over the life of your loan.

Your down payment is the first part of your home's purchase price that you pay at closing. Your mortgage lender will pay the remaining balance.

Typically, mortgage lenders in West Virginia want you to contribute 20% of the purchase price as a down payment. That would be $30,475 for a $152,373 home — the typical home value in West Virginia.

However, you have options to lower your down payment amount.

Government backed loans, like VA and FHA loans, allow you to contribute 0% and 3.5% of your home's purchase price respectively. Even conventional loans allow for down payments as low as 3-5% (though the minimum varies by lender).

But making a down payment of less than 20% comes with some risks.

First, because you're borrowing more money, you'll have a higher monthly payment and pay more in interest over the life of your loan.

Second, you may have to purchase mortgage insurance.

Conventional loans require private mortgage insurance (PMI) until your loan balance reaches 80% of the purchase price. FHA loans, on the other hand, require a mortgage insurance premium (MIP) for the life of your loans.

Mortgage insurance costs around 1% of your mortgage balance annually. However, rates vary based on your down payment and credit score. Typically, your mortgage insurance payment is added to your mortgage payment each month.

VA loans don't charge mortgage insurance. Instead, you'll pay a VA loan funding fee at closing, which can range from 1.4% to 3.6% of the purchase price.

» READ MORE: Everything you need to know about low-income home loans

West Virginia down payment assistance programs

There are numerous down payment assistance (DPA) programs in West Virginia that can help low-income and first-time buyers afford a home. If you're eligible for one of these programs, you could receive a grant or loan to make homeownership a reality.

Here are a few DPA programs that you may qualify for:

WVHDF Down Payment/Closing Cost Assistance

The West Virginia Housing Development Fund (WVHDF) offers different levels of down payment assistance based on your first mortgage loan program. Household income and home purchase price limits apply for both programs.

If you're part of the Homeownership program, you can receive $7,500 or $10,000 as a second mortgage. The amount of financial assistance you receive depends on the loan-to-value ratio of your first mortgage.

If you participate in the Movin' Up program, you can receive either $5,000 or $8,000 as a second mortgage. Your financial assistance will depend on the loan-to-value ratio of your first mortgage.

U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development

You can find alternative programs in West Virginia here.

Step 2: Find a great real estate agent in West Virginia

🔑 Key takeaway:

Interview multiple agents to find one who knows your target neighborhoods, has experience in your price range, and communicates well.

Your real estate agent will be your main ally during the home buying process. Besides finding and showing you properties, your agent will help you make offers, negotiate contracts, and navigate the closing process. Plus, they can recommend other service providers like title companies and inspectors to help you buy your home in West Virginia.

Don't rush into choosing an agent. Instead, take the time to research and interview multiple real estate agents who have experience in the neighborhoods you're interested in. You should pay attention to a realtor's:

  • Years of experience
  • Number of transactions in the last year (the more the better!)
  • Experience in your price range
  • Overall review score
  • Individual reviews and complaints
👋 Find the best realtors near you!

Finding a great real estate agent shouldn't be complicated. Let Clever Real Estate do the hard part and match you with experienced local realtors who are experts in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare top agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free, and there's no obligation.

Step 3: Get preapproved for a mortgage

🔑 Key takeaway:

Once you're preapproved for a mortgage, it's imperative that your financial situation doesn't change. If your credit drops, it can derail the process and keep you from closing on your house.

Here are some easy ways to ensure your credit doesn't change after you receive your preapproval letter:

  • Avoid opening new credit accounts
  • Don't close any accounts that have been open for a long time
  • Make all of your credit card payments on time

» LEARN MORE: What factors do mortgage lenders consider?

A mortgage preapproval letter is an offer to lend you up to a certain amount of money to purchase a home. It shows sellers that you are a serious buyer who is financially qualified to make an offer on a home.

Most sellers in West Virginia will require preapproval before showing you their home.

You don't have to decide on one lender right now. In fact, you should compare interest rates and preapproval amounts from several lenders to make sure you're getting the absolute best terms when you buy your West Virginia home.

Step 4: Choose the right location

🔑 Key takeaway:

Search for neighborhoods where:

  • Home prices are within your price range
  • Home values are on the rise
  • The local amenities support your lifestyle

Currently, the typical home value in West Virginia is $152,373, but don't worry if that doesn't perfectly match your budget. Home prices vary dramatically from city to city and even from neighborhood to neighborhood!

Also, look at past home value trends. This will give you an idea of how much your home's value could go up over the next few years.

To give you an idea of how appreciation could impact what your house is worth in the future, consider these examples from three neighborhoods in Morgantown:

Home value appreciation in Morgantown

Neighborhood 2015 Current Appreciation
First Ward $131,842 $196,288 32.8%
Woodburn $127,899 $173,069 26.1%
Jerome Park $122,351 $174,974 30.1%
Show more

Step 5: Start house hunting in West Virginia

🔑 Key takeaway:

Listing prices in West Virginia have shot up and inventory continues to dip. Given the market, you may have a challenging time finding a house, especially if you have a limited budget. Your realtor can help you out here — review your priorities and check out the listings they show you. While most houses may not check all your boxes, you might find a deal that makes up for it.

Searching for homes in West Virginia is the fun part of the home buying process! You'll get to look at a variety of homes and discover what you really want in a home.

Make a list of everything you want in a home and prioritize them. At the top of the list should be the items that are most important to you. This will help you separate your "must-haves" from your "nice-to-haves."

Your agent can help you understand if your wants are realistic for your budget and favorite neighborhoods or if you need to rethink what you're looking for.

Look at current housing inventory

The timing of your house hunt in West Virginia can have a big impact on your number of options. For example, in West Virginia, May has historically seen the most homes for sale. Searching in this season could give you more options and a greater likelihood of finding your dream home.

On the other hand, December gives you the fewest choices in West Virginia. Historically, there are 45.4% fewer homes for sale than during West Virginia's peak season.

Housing inventory in West Virginia by season

Step 6: Make an offer

🔑 Key takeaway:

With the limited inventory, the best listings in West Virginia are selling fast, while those in far-flung areas may sit longer. For the best results, consult with your realtor when writing your offer. They know the trends in your area and can advise you on how strong an offer you need in your local market while ensuring it’s still fair for you.

Once you find a West Virginia house you love, it's time to make an offer. Your real estate agent will help you write a compelling offer that gives you the best shot of convincing the homeowner to sell to you.

Currently, in West Virginia, homes stay on the market for 94 days before going under contract. However, every market goes through seasonal changes. During busier months, homes get snatched up more quickly than others.

Historically, West Virginia homes sell fastest in June, where the average property is only on the market for 81 days. If your home search falls around this time, you should be prepared to move quickly and potentially make offers on several homes before yours is accepted.

On the other hand, if you buy in February, you have a bit more time to search. Homes typically stay on the market 25 days longer than West Virginia's annual average.

Average time homes spend on market in West Virginia

» LEARN MORE: What should an offer include?

Step 7: Inspections and appraisals

Inspections and appraisals are an opportunity for you to better evaluate the home's condition and value before officially purchasing it. You may have an opportunity after this step to renegotiate the terms of your contract with the seller if something unexpected pops up.

🔑 Key takeaway:

  • Inspections: A licensed professional checks the house for any unseen, unexpected, or potential issues.
  • Appraisals: An appraiser hired by your lender examines the house to determine how much it's worth.

Home inspections in West Virginia

Having your West Virginia home inspected by a licensed inspector gives you peace of mind about the condition of the property before you commit thousands of dollars to purchase it.

Your inspector should check out the following parts of the property:

  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Electrical system
  • HVAC system
  • Plumbing

If the home has a septic system, you should also pay for a septic inspection to make sure it doesn't have any problems that wouldn't be covered in a typical home inspection.

West Virginia-specific inspections

West Virginia is known as a "buyer beware" state, meaning that buyers need to take extra precautions to ensure a property is safe before closing. It's strongly recommended for buyers to go beyond the general home inspection and have additional tests conducted to identify any risks or hazards.

Here are a few important inspections that West Virginia buyers should consider:

  • Radon testing: Prolonged exposure to high levels of radon can result in health complications. Although it isn't required, buyers are advised to have a home checked for radon before closing. Residents in certain counties can claim a free radon test kit from the American Lung Association. Check if your county is eligible for one here.
  • Pest inspection: Some lenders may require you to get a termite and pest inspection done before buying a property, but it's something all buyers are advised to do. Pest infestations can go undetected by residents until significant property damage has already occurred. Getting a professional to check the home for an infestation can save you from expensive repairs and pest removal services in the future.

Appraisals

Appraisals determine the value of the property. If you're using a mortgage to buy your new home, your lender will order an appraisal to make sure the home is worth the money that it's loaning you.

» LEARN: 3 options for buyers after a low appraisal

Step 8: Close on your new home!

🔑 Key takeaway:

Before you close on your new home, you and your agent will do a final walkthrough of the property to ensure that it's still in the expected condition.

Closing on your West Virginia home will require you to meet at the title company with the seller to complete paperwork and settle closing costs.

On the closing date, expect to spend about an hour reviewing and signing legal documents. These forms are required to finalize your loan application and begin the title transfer process, so make sure that all of the information is correct before you sign.

Just a few forms you'll have to complete will include:

  • Your final loan application
  • The deed
  • The mortgage promissory note
  • The disclosure statements

After completing all the necessary paperwork, you’ll pay your closing costs to the title company. They can take care of distributing the correct amounts to each recipient.

Your closing costs as a homebuyer will cover four major categories:

  • Lender fees: Fees paid to your lender for originating and underwriting your loan. This payment may cover other costs associated with your loan, like appraisal and survey fees.
  • Title and escrow charges: Fees that the title company charges for conducting the title search and facilitating the closing process. Buyers and sellers often split this cost.
  • Prepaid costs: Ongoing costs of homeownership. Mortgage lenders often require borrowers to pay for some of these homeownership expenses in advance, such as property taxes and homeowners insurance.
  • Other closing costs: Miscellaneous expenses that vary from buyer to buyer. Some common costs may include pest inspection fees, natural disaster certification fees, or real estate attorney fees.

Buyers in West Virginia typically pay 3–5% of the purchase price in closing costs. For a $152,400 home — the typical home value in West Virginia — that's between $4,572 and $7,620!

⚡Make your home-buying dreams a reality!

Ready to make your home-buying dreams a reality? The first step is to find a top local realtor who's an expert negotiator with proven experience in your market.

Enter your zip code below to compare the best agents from trusted brands like Keller Williams, Berkshire Hathaway, and Coldwell Banker, then choose the best fit for you. It's 100% free and there's no obligation.

Frequently asked questions

Do I need a real estate attorney in West Virginia?

In West Virginia it's required for a real estate attorney to be part of every home sale. While your agent can make recommendations, remember you get to make the final decision. Interview lawyers before hiring them to make sure they have the experience you need.

What are the steps to buy a house in West Virginia?

  1. Save for down payment
  2. Get pre-approved for a mortgage
  3. Choose your preferred West Virginia neighborhoods
  4. Partner with the right real estate agent in West Virginia
  5. Go house hunting
  6. Make a strong offer
  7. Inspections and appraisals
  8. Do a final walkthrough and close

Does West Virginia have a first time home buyer program?

Yes! The HOMEownership Program Loan offers a 30-year, fixed-rate mortgage with the option to apply for down payment assistance of up to $10,000.

To qualify, you must be within the household income and purchase price limits set by the West Virginia Housing Development Fund. Depending on your loan type, you may also have to take a homebuyer education course.

» READ: What are the top first-time homebuyer programs?

Why trust us?

Clever Real Estate is a free agent-matching service that has helped more than 82,000 people buy and sell homes. We partner with over 2,700 top-performing agents nationwide at national brokers including Keller Williams, RE/MAX, Century 21, and more. We also help buyers save money with cash back after closing — no strings attached.

We’ve earned buyers’ trust with a rating of 4.9 out of 5 starts on Trustpilot and over 1,800 customer reviews.

Our team of industry-leading researchers are committed to making homeownership more accessible by educating buyers through guides like this one. We've spent thousands of hours analyzing publicly available data, surveying consumers, and interviewing industry experts. Our research has been featured in The New York Times, Business Insider, Inman, Housing Wire, and many more.

Learn more about Clever.

Article Sources

[1] Federal Reserve – "Housing Market Tightness During COVID-19: Increased Demand or Reduced Supply?". Updated July 08, 2021. Accessed October 11, 2022.
[2] Consumer Protection Financial Bureau – "The Fed is raising interest rates. What does that mean for borrowers and savers?". Updated March 17, 2022. Accessed October 11, 2022.

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