Buying: Getting Started
What I Am Getting Into?
Follow these easy steps to buy your dream home.
What are the basics of the homebuying process?
Understanding the homebuying process is important. Live Baltimore encourages potential buyers to take a pre-purchase homeownership education course. The instructor can help you decide whether or not you are ready for homeownership and can review any credit issues. Additionally, if you want to qualify for any incentive programs like Live Baltimore's "Buying into Baltimore" $4,000 award, you need to earn a housing counseling course completion certificate. Each housing counseling agency has its own specifications, which may include more classes or a small fee to cover materials and/or a credit check. You can find a complete list of agencies here.
How much home can I buy?
Buying a house is a big financial decision. After getting educated about the buying process, you should meet with a mortgage lender to figure out how much you can afford to buy. By getting pre-qualified through a mortgage lender, you will be able to narrow your search to homes you can afford. This will also give you more negotiating power with the seller.
You can contact a Live Baltimore Mortgage Lender partner for a pre-qualification letter that states the loan amount for which you qualify. Your lender will provide you with a checklist for pre-qualification, but typically you have to gather information about your finances-W-2 forms and tax returns, recent pay stubs, and bank statements. The lender will also secure a recent copy of your credit history after you sign a standard permission form.
Where do I want to live in Baltimore?
With more than 225 neighborhoods within Baltimore City, how do you choose just one? Start with a visit to our neighborhood profiles and preview 120 areas to find a community that best suits you. Our "Discover Your Neighborhood" and "Neighborhood Match" tools can also be helpful as you make some decisions about your preferences:
You can also come into our office to meet with a Live Baltimore specialist who can talk with you about neighborhood amenities, show you a variety of areas on our detailed map of neighborhoods, and refer you to a neighborhood ambassador to get insider knowledge from a person who lives there.
How do I find my dream home?
In most cases, you will need a licensed real estate agent to help you gain access to homes for sale. Think about connecting with a Live Baltimore Real Estate Professional. A good agent will help you find the right house in a neighborhood that fits your needs and assist in negotiating the final offer price.
Search our Real Estate Professionals for an agent who specializes in the neighborhoods that interest you. These agents receive training from Live Baltimore on incentives, property tax programs and grants that apply to those areas, and can help you apply for different benefits. When you search online for an agent, you can ask to be contacted by one of them immediately.
Once you've found your dream home, your agent will work with you in putting together an offer to present to the seller. When determining this amount, take into account the condition of the home, market activity, comparable area homes values, and the seller's circumstances.
Do I qualify for any homebuying incentives?
Almost all home purchases will require at least $1,000 of your own resources. Downpayments with lenders can range from 3 to 20-percent. You could be able to put more money toward your downpayment or reduce your closing fees by getting money through a number of homebuying incentive programs. Although some are only for first-time homebuyers, others have more flexible qualifications. Research these incentives here.
What is Closing About?
Once you have a signed sales contract, it's time to sit back and let your loan officer take over. The professional will order an appraisal on the property, approve your loan, and send you a commitment letter with terms and conditions of your loan. Review this carefully to make sure you understand all of the terms and fees. You'll need to line-up homeowner's insurance and a title company, too.
Protecting your home is an important investment. You typically have to pay for one-year of homeowners insurance (sometimes called "hazard insurance") upfront, outside of the money due at settlement.
A title company will review your potential new home's ownership records to make sure there are no liens or any outstanding legal issues surrounding the home. Although your lender or agent may recommend a title company, you have the right to choose a title company with whom you want to do business.
Want some more information?
Just fill out a customer profile form and we'll quickly get information out to you!