If you have never owned a home, there will probably be many things you will need to learn about before deciding whether or not owning is the best option for you.
Basics of Home Buying
Homeownership can have many advantages for a person with a disability. A home you or someone else owns on your behalf can give you a permanent place to live. Homeownership can be more affordable than renting if you don’t have a rent subsidy. The home can be modified to meet your needs and homeowners can take advantage of grant and low-cost loan programs to help pay for accessibility modifications and modernization.
Some of the benefits of homeownership include having a stable place to live, the ability to decorate and make changes to the home that meet your needs and desires, the ability to have other people live with you without the rules that may be in place at a rental property, the ability to have other people stay with you for a visit without breaking one of the rental property rules and having an asset that will likely grow in value.
Homeownership has some requirements that should be considered carefully before deciding to purchase a home. A homeowner is responsible for upkeep of the house and property. All maintenance and repairs must be paid for by the homeowner. If you have a home with a yard, you are responsible for cutting the grass, mulching, removing leaves and dead branches, and removing snow from sidewalks and the driveway. The cost of regular home maintenance and repair plus any upgrades you want to do, such as replacing appliances, flooring etc. can be high and homeowners need to set aside money to pay for upkeep in addition to paying the mortgage, interest and taxes.
Information on purchasing and selling a home in Maryland can be found at: www.marylandhomeownership.com.
The process of purchasing a home is very different from renting. Most people will need a mortgage loan to be able to buy the home. To get a mortgage, you will need a good credit score and will also need enough income to pay for the mortgage, taxes, insurance and home maintenance. Many homes are located in communities with a Homeowner’s Association. You will need to have enough income to pay the monthly or quarterly dues.
It’s a good idea to get “prequalified” for a mortgage by the lender/bank of your choice. When you are prequalified, the bank tells you the maximum purchase price for a home you can afford. In addition, if you are prequalified, the owners of the home you want to buy will feel more confident in you as a buyer because they know you can afford the home.
Because homeownership is a more involved process, it is recommended that first-time home buyers attend housing counseling classes. These classes are usually free or low cost, and help people understand the home purchasing process and long-term ownership considerations.
What is Housing Counseling?
The Housing Counseling Program provides counseling to consumers on seeking, financing, maintaining, renting or owning a home. The program also addresses homelessness through counseling and assists homeowners in need of foreclosure assistance.
A certified housing counselor is a person specially trained to assess a person’s financial situation, evaluate options for paying a mortgage and make a plan to help the person get a mortgage. Housing counselors can assist in the areas of buying, preventing foreclosure and refinancing homes.
Housing counseling subject matter can include budgeting, savings, spending, debt and credit. Unlike servicers, loan officers, brokers or other real estate professional representatives, a housing counselor offers independent advice. Housing counseling services are generally offered with nominal or no cost to the client. Most agencies are supported by HUD and state housing finance agencies, local governments, as well as private philanthropy. Foreclosure counseling and counseling services for homeless persons are offered free of charge through HUD’s Housing Counseling Program.
Many home buying down payment and closing cost assistance programs require the person to obtain a Homeownership Counseling Certificate from an approved agency before making an offer on a home. A certificate requires in-person or online group homebuyer education and a one-on-one counseling session with a counselor to discuss a person’s particular circumstance. Certificates are good for one year. Approved Housing Counseling agencies in Maryland can be found by visiting the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development website.
A realtor is a person or agency that is licensed to assist people with searching for and purchasing a home. Realtors also assist people with selling their home. A realtor assists the home buyer with making an offer to purchase a home, guides the buyer through the pre-purchase process including home inspection, selecting a title company etc., and assists the buyer during the settlement process.
For information on working with a real estate professional, go to https://mmp.maryland.gov/Pages/Real-Estate-Agents.aspx:
This website offers advice to people who are looking to purchase a home that is physically accessible.