Buying a home is one of the most important decision-making process that you can go through…

It can be a long, complicated – and occasionally – frustrating process. Most buyers typically search for approximately 10 weeks and look at around 10 homes (give or take). The length of the home search is usually the longest (approximately 12 weeks) for buyers aged 37 to 51 years. For all other generations, buyers searched for around 10 weeks.

Which is likely why 88% of all buyers purchase their home through an agent. The primary goals – 1) they want their agent’s help to find the right home, 2) they want help with price negotiations, and 3) to help understand the purchasing process.

My advice to anyone in the market, or even thinking about buying a home, is to start early!

If you need to, see if you can work to improve your credit score – every little bit helps. Try to pay off balances. Review your credit reports and look for items that you can work on to improve your score.

If you have a small (or no) nest egg, start saving! You’ll need to come up with closing costs and a down payment. BTW, The Maryland Mortgage Program offers help with closing costs and down payments.

Make a list! As you think of questions, write them down and take notes – this will help me understand how I can help you with the parts of the process that you are least familiar with i.e. negotiating price, closing process, moving logistics, etc. I will address any and all of your questions and concerns (as long as I know about them!).

You might have an idea of where you want to live. Start by making a list of what is important to you – both in terms of your ideal home and location. How many bedrooms and baths (full baths) do you “need” and how many would you “like”? Is easy-access to schools, hospitals, or grocery stores important?

In the Market for a New Home?

Here are some helpful resources and calculators.

Go through your finances (income/expenses) and see what price range is realistic.

If you can afford to make a 20% down payment, you will likely have more options both in terms of homes that will appeal to you and lending terms. Depending on the amount of debt you have, you may want to take the approach of having a “starter home” to build equity first before trying to jump into your “dream home.” Keep in mind that Maryland has loan officers who can help you understand eligibilityprogram selection, available down payment and closing cost assistance initiatives.

Most importantly, create a budget. It should be comprehensive and include your monthly mortgage payment, taxes, private mortgage insurance (PMI), utilities, and other annual expenses associated with homeownership like HOA (if applicable).

When you’re ready, get pre-approved by your lender. Pre-approval means you have been approved for a specific loan amount, but it does not mean you are pre-approved for a loan. Getting pre-approved will help you know what you can really afford and help you close your loan faster when the time comes. Connect with a Maryland-approved lender by visiting http://mmp.maryland.gov/Pages/Find-A-Lender.aspx.

Lastly, be sure to work with a professional. Let me say that again, be sure to work with a professional.

I get it. I love the internet, too. It is extremely helpful! I highly encourage it. But working with real estate and banking professionals will ensure a smooth process and – often times – will help identify ways save money.

I have been a Maryland resident all of my life… I know the neighborhoods and as a Real Estate agent, I have access to information and technology that can help you hit all of your important home-buying goals. Ask for me for referrals – I will gladly provide you people to contact that have had great experiences working with me.

Remember that list of questions I mentioned? We can got through that together. We can also work on a checklist and take notes for each of the homes you visit. When we look at homes, I encourgage you to take pictures and videos with your phone to help you remember the houses and specific features you like. Same goes for the neighborhoods. Once you find a home you really like – visit it at different times of the day (and night) to check out parking, traffic patterns, and other activity that can vary from time to time.

I will be with you all the way – during the offer process, I’ll help guide you through getting a home inspection, getting the home appraised, and help you finalize any outstanding details as you apply for your loan. Even at closing, when you’re signing a mountain of paperwork, I’ll be there. I will be there right up to the point you’ll be unpacking in that new home you bought – but I will stay in touch after, in case you need me (or if anyone that you know may need me – I love referrals!).