How to Buy a Single Family Home in Carroll County, MD
Buying a single family home in Carroll County, Md is one of the most exciting, and frequently stressful, experiences you’ll ever go through. This holds true whether you’ve bought many homes or you’re looking to buy your first, whether you’re in the market for a new primary residence, or an investment property. Today’s real estate market can offer more opportunities, yet can be filled with more risks than ever before. There are a multitude of factors to consider and decisions to make. When buying, whether considering a detached home, a townhouse, or a condo, it’s crucial to have all the available resources necessary to make a well-informed decision. It’s also mportant to enlist the help of a trusted real estate professional who will be able to provide expert guidance at each step of the buying process.
Define Your Goals, Research Your Options, Make Your Plans
Since buying a home is such a big step, it’s very important to educate and prepare yourself as much as possible. This means clearly determining the reasons you’re buying and what kind of home you’re looking for. Since buying and financing a home are so closely related, it also means examining your current financial situation and projecting how much you can afford.
Once you’ve answered these questions, even tentatively, you’ll be in a better position to research housing and mortgage options, and create an action plan and timelines for moving forward. Although it is possible to do this yourself, consulting an experienced real estate professional right from the start will help you avoid the many pitfalls of “doing it yourself”.
Buying real estate is a complex matter with many factors to consider since no two homes or transactions are alike. Moreover, with all the unique opportunities and potential difficulties of the current market, it’s more important than ever to contact a real estate professional when you first start thinking about buying a home. A real estate professional will guide you through the property search, financing, negotiation and transaction processes. Ideally you should obtain a dedicated buyer’s agent who knows local market knowledge.
Get Pre-approved for a Loan
You will need to get pre-approved for a loan before you start viewing homes with the serious intention of buying. The pre-approval process involves meeting with a lender and authorizing them to examine your current financial situation and credit history. The lender will use your financial information to determine if you meet the criteria to be pre-approved. Once, you’re pre-approved, the lender will provide you with a pre-approval letter detailing the amount you can borrow to buy a home. Consult with your real estate professional for recommendations on which lenders to contact. Real estate professionals who know the local market know which lenders will best meet your needs. There are a variety of loan programs. Not all lenders use the same programs. It’s advisable to contact 2-3 lenders so you can choose the one who can best meet your needs.
You’ll know what type of loan (conventional, FHA, USDA, or VA) will be best for you, and how much you can afford. This knowledge is critical for planning ahead and determining what type of home will best fit your budget. As a qualified, motivated buyer you’ll be taken more seriously when you make an offer. Lenders who participate in special programs can tell you if you qualify for any programs that will help you afford a better home (particularly if you’re a first-time buyer).
View Homes For Sale and Select “THE ONE“
Simply put, the key to the home search process is knowing what you’re looking for. Among other things, that means distinguishing between “must-haves” and “like-to-haves”. To help you to target your search and define your home preference priorities, click on the link below. The guide includes a Home Search Worksheet on page 23.
That said, here are a few recent facts about the search process that might put your experience in perspective:
92% of buyers use the internet or mobile apps to search for homes. The typical buyer searches for 12 weeks and views 12 homes, 297% of buyers view real estate agents as important in the home search process.
There are many benefits to starting the search process at a real estate website. You can view many homes and their details, take video tours and access neighborhood info. Not all real estate websites contain all the homes for sale. Real estate companies must pay hefty fees to have their listings appear on sites such as Realtor.com, Zillow, Trulia and others. The only place where all listed homes can be found is in the multiple list. Your real estate professional has access to that list and can make sure you are always up-to-date.
However, it’s also important to view homes in person. While the property details may seem similar online, homes can be very different in terms of layout, design, workmanship and other aspects. Your real estate professional will schedule appointments so you can view homes together. Your real estate professional will also serve as a great resource by pointing out things you might miss, providing helpful advice, and acting as an impartial sounding board.
Make an Offer and Negotiate with the Seller
Once you’ve found the home you’d like to buy, it’s time to make an offer. The Maryland Association of Realtors has contracts that are used for transactions in the state. These contracts enable you to specify a sale price and also allow the inclusion of clauses specifying various terms of purchase, such as the closing and possession dates, your deposit amount, and other conditions.
You should carefully review these clauses with your real estate professional to be sure that they accurately express your intended offer. In addition to drawing up the contract, your real estate professional will be happy to address all of your questions about the offer process. Once you’ve written the offer, your real estate professional will present it to the seller and/or the seller’s representative. Generally speaking, the seller can accept your offer, reject it, or counter it to initiate the negotiation process.
Successive counter-offers, with deadlines for responding and meeting conditions, may be exchanged between you and the seller until a mutual pending agreement is reached or the negotiations break down.
Negotiations involve many factors specifically relating to different market conditions, homes and sellers, some of which are examined in – Successfully Negotiating The Deal – on page 18 of the guide below.
Secure Your Financing
Once you have a pending agreement, it’s time to return to your chosen lender to finalize mortgage details in order to close the deal. This means finalizing your down payment, interest rate, regular payment schedule and all other financial conditions associated with the closing.
As the saying goes, ‘let the buyer beware’. Unfortunately, too many buyers suffer negative consequences from not fully understanding their financing decisions. Thus, it’s crucial for you to work with people you trust. In this regard, a good real estate professional can become a true friend for life. For more information on the loan process, see – The Loan Process – Financing Your Home Purchase, on page 14 of the guide below.
Close the Deal
If you’ve efficiently taken care of everything connected with purchasing your new home, taking ownership should be a positive joy with no surprises. Key steps to the closing, also referred to as the “escrow” or “settlement”, include:
Getting a title search – you will need a historical review of all legal documents relating to ownership of the property – to ensure that there are no claims against the title of the property. It’s also advisable to purchase owner’s Title Insurance. Title insurance provides protection in the event of errors in the records or mistakes in the review process.
The final walkthrough – you will be given the chance to look at the home one last time to make sure it’s in the same condition as when you signed the sale agreement.
The settlement – typically, on the Closing Date you’ll meet with a lawyer, real estate professional, or escrow agent to verify and sign all the paperwork required to complete the transaction. The settlement will include paying your closing costs, fees, property adjustments and transfer taxes. At that point, you’ll receive the property title and copies of all documentation pertaining to the purchase.
Oh, and one more thing – you’ll get the keys!
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Questions? Ask Melissa Spittel, the Local Real Estate Expert