Monday, July 21, 2008

Diary of a First Time Home Buyer

Not long ago I had settlement on a lovely stone home bought by a young couple buying their first house. Sometimes we forget what it's like for people who have never been through the whole process, and so I asked Natasha to tell me what it was like. Here's her story:

As a first time homebuyer who isn’t overwhelmed? As a young girl in love I wanted to find my castle to share with my Prince Charming (or for those who know the Princess Bride, my Farm Boy). I felt on top of the world knowing that I had the support from my now Fiancé, Luke.

We decided to try and buy a house by ourselves, without a Realtor. Well, to make a long story short, that didn’t pan out quite how we expected. We ended up houseless in an apartment we had to move out of in about a month. This left us desperate and with no idea where to start. Thanks to my mortgage broker, Bob Bennett at Maryland Mortgage Solutions, he insisted we contact Margaret Rome.

Well this turned out to be the biggest blessing we ever encountered. At 23 years old, overly stressed trying to plan a wedding and no idea where to start, I left a desperate message for Margaret asking for her help. Not 30 minutes later did I receive a phone call from the most reassuring voice I had ever heard!

I started to have some hope. There was not one second in any conversation I ever had with her that she wasn’t concerned with what Luke and I wanted and what we were looking for in a house. I was so excited to meet her in person two days later and we hit it off as though I had known her for years.

Margaret set about researching homes all around Baltimore City and Baltimore County trying to make our dreams come true in a very short time frame. She told me from the first conversation I had with her, “I will not sell you a house, you will find the house you want, and I’ll try to convince you not to buy it, and when you find a house you hate, I will try to convince you to see the positives in it.” Well, that she did. Never once was she pessimistic or optimistic, just the Devil’s Advocate, which is probably what helped this process move along so seamlessly.

Finally we found a house that my Fiancé loved and I couldn’t quite decide if was right for me until Margaret started talking. She helped me to take a look from a relatively non-biased stance. It turns out this house was the perfect compromise between the two of us; energy efficient for him, and had quirky characteristics of an older historic house for me, with lots of land and a tiny little stream in the back for our two dogs. We thought we had the world in our hands until the negotiating started.

Keith Whitehead, our brilliant home inspector, came out and brought up some small issues that needed to be fixed and some larger ones as well. I was a little nervous considering our offer was approved and we were set to close within a few weeks. Margaret never let me get upset. She just kept telling me, “Natasha, don’t worry, I WILL get this taken care of,” and she always did. She helped make this process as easy for us, the buyers, as possible. She never once let me second-guess us getting everything we wanted with this house.

It helped we had the best team: Merle Intner - Appraisal Services of Maryland, Charlie Brubaker - Command Pest Control, Mike Quartner - Quartner's Heating and Air Conditioning, Keith Whitehead – Home Advantage Home Inspections, Bob Bennett –Maryland Mortgage Group, and Tom Dreschler – Sage Title Group.

Two days before closing we decided to go back to the house and make sure everything was in order. Well, everything looked perfect until we stepped inside and the house was 90 degrees with the “air conditioning on.” I was about to have a nervous breakdown because how can you get this all fixed? Well, Margaret called in her big guns and had her favorite HVAC guy show up and give us estimates and tell us what needed to be done. 48 hours later we were fully prepared to go to closing.

We got to closing at Sage Title Group in Towson; Margaret and Bob Bennett were there, and a few minutes later Tom Dreschler, the attorney who worked with us, came in. From the minute he started talking you could see that he was only concerned about making sure everyone was happy and comfortable that the closing contract was fair to everyone. He did all the research and made all the phone calls necessary to make sure that there would be no favoritism in any wording or paragraphs added to the contract. He double, triple, and even quadruple checked with everyone to make sure every party was happy.

Being a first time homebuyer, of course I was overwhelmed, but everyone there made sure we were at ease before we “dotted our i’s and crossed our t’s.” One of the many words of advice Margaret told me at the closing was “The key to having the best closing is to have everyone leave filling as though they sacrificed a little.” I wasn’t quite sure I understood what she meant until we signed the last line, and I realized that, had we gotten everything we wanted, we would have devastated the seller, and would have come out looking greedy.

Needless to say, we got the house that is perfect for us, and we are so excited to make it a home. I think the proudest moment Luke and I had was pulling into the driveway of our new home and seeing the SOLD sign out front. However, I am sad at the fact I can’t look forward to hearing from Margaret calling every morning to give us our daily updates, and we can’t go explore more houses and discuss our visions of what it can become. I can tell you however, that I am excited for the day we decide to sell our house when I have no doubt that Margaret Rome will be our first phone call.

Good luck and happy house hunting. I can guarantee you that with Margaret you will find the perfect house.

Natasha

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