Frequently Asked Questions

Please review the FAQ's below and use the Request a Consultation at the bottom of the page to contact us with additional questions and to start the process of your home buying or selling journey.

What is the first step of the home buying process?

The first step is pre-approval with a lender. This tells you how much you can borrow, will tell you how much is needed for down payment, provides an estimate of the closing costs and tells your agent that you are serious about the process of buying a home.

How much money in cash should I have before I start looking for my first house?

There is no right answer here and you don't need 20% for a down-payment on your first home! FHA requires a minimum of 3.5% down, Conventional loans can be 3, 5, 10, 20% down, while VA & USDA loans can be 0% down. Be upfront with your agent about how much you have in the bank. There are programs offered by specific lenders for first time home buyers and grants provided by some municipal areas depending on a multitude of factors including where you work and your profession. Additionally, asking for closing assistance and concessions is all a part of the home buying process and for your agent to develop the right strategy, you need to communicate all of this to them as early in the process as possible. 

What credit score do I need?

Most loan programs require a FICO score of 620 or better. Borrowers with higher credit scores represent less risk to the lender, often resulting in a lower the down payment requirement and better interest rate. Anyone with a credit score above 720 qualifies for the lowest rate tables with most lenders and anyone with above a 760 is considered the lowest risk and qualifies for lower PMI (Private Mortgage Insurance).

How long does it take to buy a home from start to finish?

This depends on a lot of factors, including what you are looking for in a home. Generally it takes about 10-14 weeks or about 3 months. The first month is about narrowing down what your wants vs needs are including style size and cost. The second month includes a lot of negotiations and paperwork. Once a home is selected and the contract is accepted, the average escrow period is 21-30 days. I highly recommend not trying to rush any of these processes as they are all very important.

How much does it cost to hire a real estate agent in Maryland?

As a buyer, you will likely pay nothing out of pocket at the closing table. Agents who represent buyers are compensated by the listing broker for bringing qualified buyers to the table. As such, when you sell a home the average cost to list your home vary but is generally between 5-7% of the sale price and is paid to those agents after closing. If a seller doesn't provide buyer commission as part of the sellers listing, your agent should advise you of that when you visit that property.

What is Earnest Money?

Earnest Money or EMD (Earnest Money Deposit) is a cash deposit as a good faith piece of your written offer accompanying your accepted contract. When you make an offer on a home, your agent will ask for a check to accompany it (generally only checks or cashiers checks are accepted, and the deposit is typically 1% to 2% of the purchase price). The Escrow or title company will hold this until closing and the amount will be applied to closing costs. If the contract is not accepted or if the deal falls through, you can be returned the money but if you breach the contract, you forfeit this money to the seller.

Request A Consultation

Buying or selling a home should not be a stressful endeavor. Contact me for a free consultation and to learn more about the intricacies of your unique scenario. Don't let your questions about the real estate market stop you from getting started on the next chapter of your life!

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