How to Maximize Your Homebuying Experience

Enroll in and Complete a Housing Counseling Workshop

This valuable first step will help provide a strong primer for the homebuying process from start to finish. Baltimore Housing maintains a list of City-approved counseling agencies

Research Mortgage Options

There are many free options for researching mortgage products. Many banks have brochures and pamphlets that explain the types of mortgage products. In addition, the Internet, certified housing counseling agencies, and public libraries are great sources for information. Among the information you want to understand is: types of mortgage product options, rates and terms of these products.

Begin Loan Application Process

Most lenders will require potential mortgage borrowers to complete a loan application in order to determine information vital to ensuring loan qualification. Although many homebuyers first identify the desired home before completing the application, a best practice is getting pre-approved prior to identifying the home to determine how much one can afford. The pre-approval process requires some time commitment and as much information as the full loan application process. Pre-approval is a commitment to provide mortgage financing and all Baltimore Housing loan products require loan application information.

The recommended steps for working with a lender are:

- Gather all required documents including tax forms, pay stubs, bank statements, proof of other funding sources (e.g., brokerage reports or mutual fund balances). Most lenders will provide a specific checklist.

- Prepare any questions regarding financing you have. This will help ensure that you accomplish your objective to be educated about the process and loan products.

Identify a Real Estate Agent

Any homebuyer has the option of speaking with more than one real estate agent in advance of executing any documents.

Identify a Home

Prepare a list of desires and needs for your home. Be certain to delineate between those items that are necessities and bonuses. Give thought to the other factors, including community amenities such as schools, parks, retail establishments, and proximity to preferred transportation routes.

Identify Other Professionals to Help You

Engaging a real estate attorney can be helpful (but may be an additional cost) in giving the homebuyer another set of trained resources. Free and/or reduced rate legal services in connection with a home purchase are available through the Civil Justice Network and St. Ambrose Legal Services. Research home warranties (if applicable). Engaging the services of a good home inspector can also be helpful.

Finalize the Loan Process

Contact your chosen lender to begin the process of finalizing your loan process. Collect and provide updated documents to the lender as soon as possible. This will ensure that the lender has the most up-to-date financial information and will make for a more smooth loan approval and closing process. Please keep in mind that time is of the essence as interest rates or other factors may change and impact your loan. Get a sense of the timing for a financing decision. Most lenders will be able to give a clear indication of the decision turnaround time as well as provide details about your application or types of loan products. Your lender will be able to provide you with a good faith estimate, itemizing the various fees and costs and the amounts due at closing.