What style of home do you want?
Some early homework will help your search go more quickly because you will decide on what is important to you. Do you want an individual home? One-story or two? Large or small lot? A townhome in a small city or suburban location? An urban rowhome? Or an apartment-style 'pad' in a condominium?
Maryland offers every type of house and many styles, as well. Colonial is our most popular style for individual homes, but many more recent houses are really transitionals because they blend elements of colonial and contemporary design. Maryland farmhouses with full front porches have translated into more recent architecture. Classic traditionals include ranchers with one story, split levels which have living space on the same level as the entry foyer and bedrooms a half-story up from the main space, and split foyers where the front door opens onto a landing between two short flights of stairs between the main living level with bedrooms and a lower level with family room and additional rooms. Contemporaries take their design influences from coastal homes of the East to the great rooms of California.
Convenience and cost will be parts of your decision as well. You may prefer a townhouse with 2200 square feet on three floors that offers 4 bedrooms and 3 full baths plus a family room to a 1300-square-foot rancher with an unfinished basement on a half acre because the townhouse is newer and closer to your job, schools, and shopping.
Searching for a home
About 88% of buyers start on the Internet, and it's a great way to learn about an area. In fact, please click on Dream Home Finder on this page to start your search! This will give you access to most listings throughout Maryland. At first, you may want to look at separate counties, or within a certain distance of your job. We suggest you don't narrow down too much until you become familiar with locations so you don't miss anything. As you talk with us, we can suggest areas you might not know about and add those to your search. Please remember that the Internet is a tool, and that some listings will be presented better than others. We suggest you not rule out a house because the photos are limited in number or quality -- those can be hidden gems.
And, once we start working together, we'll be on the outlook daily for houses that have come onto the market that you should consider. Of course, please let us know about houses from your searches which you'd like to see and we'll show them to you. We can show you the listings of every broker, not just Long & Foster REALTORS.
As you tour each house, take notes on the listing sheet we provide you. Knowing your favorites but also knowing why you didn't like a house helps us advise you and make your house-hunting time more efficient.
Short sales and foreclosures
While we are glad to show you homes where the owners are subject to short sale approvals from their lenders or where the lender has taken over control of the sales process, we caution that these are not always 'deals.' In short sales, lenders often want offers that are no less than 70% of the existing loan on the house; if the sellers financed 100% of the sales price of the house when they bought and the values have dropped since then, the lender may not be willing to sell it for current market value. Short sales take a minimum of 90 days, and often as long as 9 months, to get approvals from the existing lenders to go to settlement, and the lenders often then respond with denials or additional conditions. For foreclosures, the property is usually in 'as is' condition. While the decision from the bank comes more quickly, the purchase price plus the cost of repairs equals or exceeds the market value of a similar house in good condition with an easier transaction. In either case, these may not be a good option for a relocating buyer.
From house hunt to moving in -- a timeline.
Generally, your house hunt will take anywhere from a couple of intense days if you are relocating here to about a month if you are already living here. Of course, if you want a specific type of house, your search could take longer while we wait for the right property to come onto the market.
Once you make an offer, the seller should respond through the listing agent to us within a day. Once the terms are negotiated, and in writing with all pages of the contract signed and initialed by all buyers and sellers, we have a contract. The contract will include the deadlines for inspections, loan application and approval, and the settlement date.
Settlement usually is 45-to-60 days from the contract date because it takes that long to get the loan commitment, the inspections and any resulting repairs, and the title search completed. However, we have had settlements in about 25 days. Mortgage interest rates can be locked for 60 days unless the lender has a way to extend that; thus, settlements usually are no more than 60 days from contract date. Maryland is a title state, meaning that you get full ownership with rights of occupancy at settlement.