What to do when you’re thinking about buying a house


— Buying a home for the first time is never easy. It’s one of the biggest purchases you will make in your life. Needless to say there are tons of documents to sign, language to learn, in addition to knowing what home is perfect for you and your family. Watching Virgin Properties, or House Hunters will only get you so far, and even after watching those shows can leave you perplexed and overwhelmed.

Lourdes Montes-Greenan, vice president and community consultant for Community Development Banking and Franklin N. McNeil, Jr., Community Consultant, Greater Maryland Community Development Banking, PNC Bank explained some of the first steps to take when buying a home.

The best time to purchase a home is when you are financially ready. Think about your credit history and ask yourself if you are ready for this life-changing decision. Purchasing a home is serious business and should never be taken lightly. Understand the debt that is owed, and be aware of what you can afford. A homeowner needs to have financial stability before and after purchasing a home. You don’t want to be broke by the end of the month! When living with a spouse, or significant other the decision of buying a home needs to be unanimous, especially if both names are going to be on the mortgage loan.

After you decide that you want to purchase a home, and everyone is in agreement. The next step is to talk to a HUD Certified Counselor. A counselor can be located at a HUD Certified Counseling Center. It’s important for a potential homeowner to be educated on the home buying process. There are a lot of programs in Baltimore, and in surrounding counties that are available to assist people on purchasing a home. These HUD Certified Counseling Centers have trained counselors who know all the incentives that will help a potential homeowner get the most for their money.

Most HUD Certified Counseling Centers require you to have at least a 680 credit score, to receive help from the home buying programs. Be sure to talk to a counselor even if the credit score is below 680. There are other programs that will assist you with purchasing a home, and the counselor can inform you on what you need to do, to raise your credit score. The HUD programs have sessions with and weekend sessions. Once the group sessions are completed, you will meet with a counselor one-on -one to discuss your finances and the programs that are best fit for you. Once the program is completed you will receive a certificate, be sure to show your realtor this certificate because all of the programs require you to show it in order to receive incentives.

For starters here are a few Housing Counseling Centers in Baltimore City and County:

  • Southeast CDC: http://www.southeastcdc.org/buy-a-home/home-buying-counseling-in-baltimore-city/ (online counseling available)
  • Neighborhood Housing Services of Baltimore Maryland: http://www.nhsbaltimore.org (online counseling available)
  • Bel-Air Edison Housing Services: http://www.belair-edison.org
  • Harbel Housing Partnership: http://harbel.org/housingPartnership.html
  • Park Heights Renaissance, Inc: http://boldnewheights.org/housing-counseling/home-buying-workshops/
  • St. Ambrose Housing Aid Center: http://stambros.org/pages/homeownership.html (online counseling available)

If you decide not to purchase a house after attending the sessions, that is okay! Do not feel pressured. It’s important that you feel comfortable when making this decision. There will be some anxiety because its something new and different, but if your gut is telling you not to do it— then don’t! However being educated is a priority and you want your home buying experience to be an exciting and not a disastrous one. Take a moment and click on the links to see what programs you may qualify for can sign up for today.