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Spring is almost here and…

…so is the competition.

Many new homebuyers begin their search for a home on Zillow, Redfin, or one of the other real estate websites before they contact a loan officer or even a Realtor.  This will only lead to disappointment.  Why?  If you haven’t already contacted a loan officer, you won’t be able to make a competitive offer unless you are paying cash.  Listing agents won’t take your offer seriously unless you submit a preapproval letter with your offer to show that you can even afford the house. And a Realtor can assist you in seeing the property in person so you’ll know if you even want to make an offer.  As you will soon discover, the photos you see on real estate website are usually amazing.  Agents hire professional real estate photographers who know how to create incredible images.  And agents decide which photographs to display.

One of the biggest reasons buyers are hesitant to contact an agent is the dreaded Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR) exclusive buyer agreement (the contract).  When asked to sign this document buyers feel they are being locked into working with that agent, before they even get to know that person.  This is a double-edged sword, because an agent may not want to work with you.  Even though it’s in the contract, buyers sometimes don’t realize that they can terminate an agreement at any time.  You can also have your agreement last for one day or even to see one specific property.  But you should also realize that if you decide to buy a property that an agent has assisted you in seeing and you later decide to buy that home within a specified period, you will owe a commission to the Realtor who showed it to you first.  All of this is covered in the exclusive buyer agreement.  Of course, you shouldn’t sign anything that you don’t fully understand.

So step one: find an agent.  An agent can recommend various lenders and also advise you on many downpayment assistant programs available in your area.

Step two: Contact a loan officer. That person will provide you with information on various types of loan programs. They also will provide you with a pre-approval letter.

Step three: Get your inspector and settlement company and homeowners insurance company lined up.  Your agent will certainly have a list of reputable companies you can use.

You don’t have to hire me, but to help you successfully find the perfect home, hire a Realtor.  Happy hunting.

I’m Greg Bridges with Long & Foster Real Estate and I sell and write about real estate in the Baltimore area.  Office 410-889-9800, Mobile 410-215-0565 or


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