Buying a new home should be an exciting and happy experience. However, without the proper preparation or information, the process can be less than satisfactory.
The following is a list of helpful hints for buyers, based on my more than 35 years of experience working with first-time buyers who are purchasing their primary home. Keep in mind that finding an experienced agent with knowledge of the area will be your greatest resource. No website or manual can replace the skills of a REALTOR.
First, you should contact a reputable loan office or lending institution.
Your real estate agent can help direct you. If you start the buying process already prequalified for a home loan, you will be armed with the knowledge of exactly how much you can afford to spend on your first home. In turn, this will allow your agent to search in the price range most suited to you.
The most important part of the decision making is the general area you wish to reside. There are many sections or streets of any township or city that you may want to become familiar with. Location, of course, is primary.
Repairs and alterations may be made for any problem within a home, but nothing can be done about location should you be unhappy with that area.
What to take into consideration when searching locations:
Noise and traffic in the area.
Continual and/or excessive noise and high traffic patterns can adversely affect your daily life.
Is local transit available?
For local bus line information, you may call the municipality.
The local crime rate.
You can locate neighborhood crime rates here.
The distance to the closest medical facility.
Nearby hospitals and major medical centers.
Location and quality of schools.
You may contact the local Department of Education for school information.
Check with the utility companies.
Utility companies can provide information as to the price of a normal electric or water bill, to help you rule out properties in areas with costly utility bills.
Contact the local planning and zoning department.
Information as to future planned projects that may affect the neighborhood can be obtained through Planning and Zoning,
Sometimes, simply making yourself familiar with a specific area, by walking or driving that area at different times (and days) provides a tremendous amount of knowledge and feel for that location.
Once an area is located, it is time to move on to a home selection.
Here are some hints:
Make a list of needs and wants.
If you need a two car garage, office space, or even sufficient closet space, encapsulate those needs in a list. Whatever your needs are, making a list helps to keep your eye on the ball while viewing available properties.
Do not look at more than three properties a day.
It is difficult to keep properties straight when too many are viewed in the same day.
Take pictures of any home you may consider purchasing.
Start with photographing the front of the house, and even the address, if possible. Take pictures of each room and any upgrade or facet of the structure that stands out to you.
Even in pictures, the sizes of decks, etc. may be misleading. Notes help keep the information solid in your mind.
Does the property belong to an HOA or COA?
If the home is in a development, and belongs to an HOA or COA:
How much are the fees?
What do the fees cover?
Spend some time viewing the properties.
Imagine sitting in the living room or kitchen. Try to get a feel for the home and what it would be like to live there. Walk the perimeter of the land so you’ll know if your rose bush will get enough light, or if you can build that gazebo you have always wanted.
Talk to the neighbors.
Speaking to neighbors is always a good way to obtain inside information as to the disposition of the area.
First Time Home Buyers Advantage:
Most states offer assistance to first-time home buyers. The law as it relates to Maryland:
STATE TRANSFER TAX
Section 13-203 of the tax property is reduced from 0.50% to 0.25% of the consideration payable for the instrument in writing and shall be paid by the seller.
RECORDATION TAX AND LOCAL TRANSFER TAX
Section 14-104 (C) (1) states “of the real property article of the annotated code of Maryland provides that the entire amount of recordation tax and local transfer tax shall be paid by the seller unless there is an express agreement between parties that the recordation tax and local transfer tax will not be paid entirely by the seller.
To realize the advantages offered to first-time home buyers, inform your agent (at the first meeting) that you are indeed buying your first home.
We hope these hints will help to make your first home purchase a wonderful memory that will stay with you all the years you reside in your new home.