Every state requires slightly different steps to buying a home, although they are basically very similar.  Here is the path to home ownership in Maryland, broken down into simple steps:

1) Hire a Buyer's Agent
  • A buyer's agent will represent only you and have a fiduciary responsibility to look out for your best interests.
  • Buyer's agents may ask you to sign a buyer's broker agreement, but it is the seller who pays the commission.
  • Interview agents until you find an agent you trust and with whom you feel comfortable.

2) Get Pre-Qualified / Pre-approved
  • Order a free credit report online and fix mistakes, if any.
  • Ask your agent for a referral to a mortgage broker, but also compare rates offered by your own bank and / or credit union.
  • Ask the lender to give you a loan pre-approval letter, which means it will verify your income and pull a credit report.
  • Determine your maximum loan amount, but choose only a mortgage type that you understand and a payment level with which you feel comfortable, which may very well be less than the maximum for which you are approved.

3) Look at Homes for Sale
  • Ask your agent search homes for you before showing them to you.
  • Narrow your search to those homes that fit your exact parameters to find that perfect home.
  • Observe open house etiquette.
  • Tell your agent which online home listings you are interested and ask for a showing

4) Write a Purchase Offer
  • Read and question items you do not understand on all seller disclosures
  • Consider writing seller's market offers in sellers markets and buyer's market offers in buyer's markets.
  • Select a home offer price based on the amount you feel a seller will accept or counter.
  • If you are considering a lowball offer, ask your agent to substantiate this price for you.
  • Prepare for multiple offers if the home is considered desirable in a hot location.
  • If your offer is rejected, ask your agent to explain why and don't repeat that mistake with your next offer.

5) Negotiate and Write Counter Offers
  • Expect the seller to issue a counter offer.
  • If the seller counters at full price, continue to negotiate.
  • During offer negotiation, share personal information about your family to give the seller a reason to care about you.

6) Make an Earnest Money Deposit
  • When your offer is accepted, deposit your earnest money check with the appropriate party.
  • Do not ever make your check payable to the seller.
  • Your offer should contain contingencies that will return your earnest money deposit to you if you cancel the contract.

7) Conduct Home Inspection and termite inspection
  • Hire a reputable home inspector
  • Attend the home inspection.

8) Issue Request for Repair
  • If the home inspection turns up health and safety issues, issue a request for repair by asking the seller to address those issues or give you a credit for them.
  • Realize no home is perfect, and the inspector will find faults.
  • Be reasonable.

9) Work with loan officer to start loan application

    • Support all of documents requested by loan officer
    • Choice the loan type
    • Do not open any credit card account or purchase big items by using credit card

10) Order Appraisal
  • Your lender will require an advance payment for the appraisal.
  • If you receive a low appraisal, discuss options with your agent.
  • Ask for a copy of the appraisal from loan officer

11) Comply With Lender Requirements
  • Lenders may ask for additional information.
  • Do not make home buying mistakes such as altering your financial situation while in escrow.
  • When the file is complete, the lender will submit it for final underwriter approval.

12) Order Homeowner's Insurance Policy
  • Order your homeowner's insurance early.
  • Sometimes previous claims by a home owner can make it difficult to get insurance.
  • Get replacement coverage.

13) Remove Contingencies
  • Home inspection contingency date wrote in contract
  • Make sure your loan is firm and the appraisal is acceptable before removing your loan contingency.
  • If you do not remove contingencies, the seller can issue a request to perform and then cancel the contract, on top of demanding your deposit.

14) Do Final Walk-Through
  • Do not pass up doing a final walk-through. Your agent will schedule for you
  • Inspect the property to make sure it's in the same condition as when you agreed to buy it.
  • If you find a serious issue, address it now before you close.

16) Sign Loan / Settlement Documents
  • You will receive settlement document HUD-1 before settlement. Review it with your agent
  • Go to bank to buy cashier check in amount of showed in HUD-1
  • Bring a valid picture ID.

17) Settlement (Closing)
  • You will sign all of documents at settlement table
  • You give the cashier check to the settlement officer, the seller give you the keys
  • After settlement, change the locks immediately.
  • Your property deed will record in the public records.
  • Title Company will mail you the deed when it records.
  • You also will receive title insurance document by mail

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