Buying a Home in Maryland
Buying a home is a dream for many people. If you are considering buying a home in Maryland, this dream can become a reality with the right team in your corner. The Shawn Martin Group provides outstanding guidance and support for Anne Arundel County buyers, Howard County buyers, and Baltimore County buyers. Our team of real estate professionals will be with you for every step of the home buying process. We provide tools and resources both online and in-person so that you can be as informed as possible about buying a home in Maryland.
One of the most useful online tools that we provide is our convenient mortgage calculator. After all, our team wants you to enjoy your new home for years to come. So, we want to help you find the perfect home at the perfect price. That’s why our mortgage calculator is such a helpful tool.
Once you have used the mortgage calculator to find out the right rate for you, you can apply to see if you qualify for mortgage pre-approval. Pre-approval for a mortgage can help to accelerate the home buying process, which is especially useful when a home that you’ve had your eye on suddenly comes on the market. Explore our online mortage pre-approval tool today to see if it’s right for you.
If you are a first-time homebuyer in Maryland, The Shawn Martin Group team wants you to be prepared for this exciting milestone in your life. So, we provide tips and advice for our first-time buyers, including:
- List of needs and wants - Take a few minutes to compose two lists. The first list should include items you must have, such as the number of bedrooms you need for the size of your family or a central air conditioning. The second list is your wishes, which are things you would like to have but that are not a necessity, such as a pool or a finished basement. Realistically for first-time buyers, you may not get everything on your wish list, but it will keep you on track for what you are looking for.
- Representation by a professional - Consider hiring your own real estate agent, one who is working for you, the buyer, not the seller. The Shawn Martin Group team are qualified and experienced real estate professionals, and we would be happy to represent you during this process.
- Visualize the house empty and with your decor - Although this may be difficult, try to picture the house with your furniture. Then, take a moment and consider if the rooms would fit your needs. Also, is there enough light? Keep in mind that walls can always be painted, so focus more on the house’s structural integrity.
- Be objective - Instead of thinking with your heart when you find a home, think with your head. Does this home really meet your needs? There are many houses on the market, so don't make a hurried decision that you may regret later. Also, our team will never rush you into a home. So, take your time and be objective.
- Be thorough - A few extra dollars well spent now may save you significant expenses in the long run. Don't forget such essentials as having the property inspected by a professional inspector and requesting a second walk-through to take place within 24 hours of closing.
Although these tips may make the whole process seem overwhelming, we can help. If you are looking for homes for sale in Anne Arundel County, The Shawn Martin Group can walk you through the home buying process, and we will be completely transparent about each step along the way.
Making an Offer
Before making an offer to purchase is created, it is imperative that you have been at least pre-qualified or, better yet, pre-approved by a lender.
This is one of the best negotiating tools a buyer can have. It shows the seller that you are financially able to purchase the home. After you have found the right home, it is time to prepare the offer.
When you are buying a home, there are many problems that the seller is obligated to disclose. For example, in most states, it is illegal to withhold information about major physical defects on the property, but these disclosures don't always paint the entire picture of the home. Some questions you may want to ask that can offer additional insight about the prospective home before you make a final decision include:
- Why is the seller selling the house?
- How much did the seller pay for the home?
- What does the seller like most and least about the property?
- Has the seller had any problems with the home in the past?
- Are there any nuisances or problem neighbors?
- How are the public schools in the area?
Knowing all you can about a prospective home not only helps you decide if it's the home of your dreams but what offer to make as well. Your real estate professional can help you get your key questions answered and give you advice on how to evaluate your findings.
What Are Closing Costs?
You've found your dream home, the seller has accepted your offer, your loan has been approved, and you're eager to move into your new home. But before you get the key, there's one more step. So what are closing costs?
Also called the settlement, the closing is the process of passing ownership of property from seller to buyer. It can also be a tedious and difficult process. As a buyer, you will sign what seems like endless piles of documents and will have to present a sizable check for the down payment and various closing costs. It's the fees associated with the closing that many times remain a mystery to many buyers who may simply hand over thousands of dollars without really knowing what they are paying for.
As a responsible buyer, you should be familiar with these costs that are both mortgage-related and government-imposed. Although many of the fees may vary by locality, here are some common fees:
- Appraisal fee - This fee pays for the appraisal of the property. You may already have paid this fee at the beginning of your loan application process.
- Credit report fee - This fee covers the cost of the credit report requested by the lender. This, too, may already have been paid when you applied for your loan.
- Loan origination fee - This fee covers the lender's loan-processing costs. The fee is typically one percent of the total mortgage.
- Loan discount - You will pay this one-time charge if you have chosen to pay points to lower your interest rate. Each point you purchase equals one percent of the total loan.
- Title insurance fees - These fees generally include costs for the title search, title examination, title insurance, document preparation, and other miscellaneous title fees.
- PMI premium - If you buy a home with a low down payment, a lender usually requires that you pay a fee for mortgage insurance. This fee protects the lender against loss due to foreclosure. Once a new owner has 20 percent equity in their home, they can typically apply to eliminate this insurance.
- Prepaid interest fee - This fee covers the interest payment from the date you purchase the home to the date of your first mortgage payment. Generally, if you buy a home early in the month, the prepaid interest fee will be substantially higher than if you buy it towards the end of the month.
- Escrow accounts - In locations where escrow accounts are standard, a mortgage lender will usually start an account that holds funds for future annual property taxes and home insurance. At least one year advance plus two months’ worth of homeowner's insurance premium will be collected. In addition, taxes equal approximately two months in excess of the number of months that have elapsed in the year are paid at closing. (If six months have passed, eight months of taxes will be collected.)
- Recording fees and transfer taxes - This expense is charged by most states to record the purchase documents and transfer ownership of the property.
Make sure you consult a real estate professional in your area to find out which fee and how much you will be expected to pay during the closing of your prospective home. Keep in mind that you can negotiate these costs with the seller during the offering stage. In some instances, the seller might even agree to pay all of the settlement costs.
Escrow: Now What?
Now that you have made it through the closing costs process, you’re on to the next step, escrow and settlement. During this step, keep in mind:
- You will be asked for a down payment on the home you are purchasing. You can choose to put down as much or as little as you want (depending on your mortgage), but remember, the more you put down toward the total price of your home, the less time it will take you to pay off, and the less your mortgage payments will be every month.
- During this period of purchasing your home, you are going to need an escrow or settlement company to act as an independent third party so that you know when and who to give your money to get the deed to your new home. The escrow or settlement company will hold your deposit and coordinate much of the activity during the escrow period. This deposit check may also be held by an attorney or in the broker's trust account. Make sure that there are sufficient funds in your account to cover this check.
- The deposit check will be cashed. Assuming the sale goes through, this money will be applied to the purchase price of the home. If for any reason, the sale is not consummated, you may be entitled to receive all of your deposit back, less standard cancellation fees. In certain instances, the seller may be able to retain this money as liquidated damages. Prior to executing a purchase contract, it would be wise to speak with your counsel regarding whether or not it is your best interest to have a liquidated damages clause as part of the contract.
Additional Online Tools
Real estate jargon can be especially difficult to decipher. So, our Shawn Martin Group site also provides a financial terms glossary which you can use as a reference. There are many terms that only real estate professionals seem to understand. However, with our financial terms glossary, you have your own translator for the endless forms and terms involved in the home buying process.
Also, our personalized home search option allows you to narrow down your search to find the exact right home for your needs. You can use the personalized home search to find potential homes for sale by the number of bedrooms, square footage, or year that the house was built.
Choose The Shawn Martin Group When Buying a Home in Maryland
The key to buying a home in Maryland is to partner with a team of real estate professionals who have your best interests in mind. The Shawn Martin Group is an experienced group of real estate professionals, and we can act as your buyer’s agent. Learn more about how we can help you find the home of your dreams by calling (443) 274-1624 or completing our online form. Partner with The Shawn Martin Group for all of your home buying needs.