Lauren Nowacki8-Minute Read
UPDATED: March 24, 2023
When deciding where in the country to move, you could peruse lists of best places to live in the U.S., or you could get almost everything in one place – Maryland.
Called “America in Miniature” for just that reason, Maryland has many of the natural features you’ll find spread across the U.S. (except deserts) and people of almost every origin. The state is also packed with American history. It’s one of the original 13 colonies, the birthplace of our national anthem and the site of a pivotal Civil War battle, the Battle of Antietam.
The state is known also for its blue crab, which comes from the state’s plentiful waterways that make up more than 4,000 miles of shoreline.
There’s a lot packed into the ninth-smallest state in the U.S., but there’s still plenty of room for new residents. If you’re thinking of buying a house in Maryland, this article will provide the tips you need to navigate the process.
In Maryland, you have your choice of bustling cities and beach towns or sprawling farmlands and quaint small towns. Nature lovers can walk along the shores of the Atlantic, go white water rafting on rivers, hike through the Appalachian Mountains or explore underground caves. The state also features scenic waterfalls, sunsets over the Chesapeake Bay and views of wildlife moving through wetlands – Maryland checks off all the boxes when considering where to live.
Maryland is even ranked in U.S. News & World Report’s top 15 best states for opportunity, based on its economy, pay equality and housing affordability.
Ready to enjoy the landscape, scenery and opportunity Maryland affords, but you’re not sure where to plant your roots? Check out some of our favorite picks from our list of top cities for Maryland real estate.
Baltimore is the largest city in Maryland and a major seaport. Many of its neighborhoods – including its walkable waterfront – are filled with row houses and factories converted into lofts and trendy restaurants. Street murals abound in the city, which also hosts several art museums and unique art galleries.
When choosing to live in Baltimore, consider where you want to live and whether it’s the right place for your family. While Baltimore is affectionately known as “Charm City,” Baltimore, there are neighborhoods that have higher-than-average crime rates, so check out the area to find the best fit for you and your family.
Annapolis is home to the United States Naval Academy, one of the city’s longest-standing institutions and the country’s second-oldest U.S. service academy. Situated on the Chesapeake Bay, Annapolis is known as the “Sailing Capital of the U.S.” and hosts several boating events throughout the year. A suburb of Baltimore, Annapolis has a mix of city life and small-town charm, with brick-paved streets, historic sites and sidewalks lined with cute boutiques, lively bars and restaurants hosting live music. The city’s layout features two main circles: Church and State. One surrounds the domed state building, and the other surrounds St. Anne’s Parish, with streets branching out from them.
Situated on a narrow barrier island between the Atlantic Ocean and Isle of Wight Bay, Ocean City is a resort town with a white sand beach that lines the city’s 10 miles of Atlantic coast. Whether you’re on the bay side or ocean side, you’ll find numerous waterfront restaurants, amusement parks and other attractions. Any time of year, you can walk down the city’s wooden boardwalk that features 3 miles of shops, food stands, arcades and a 1902 carousel.
The Hagerstown area was home to multiple Civil War battles. You can visit the Antietam battlefield, the site of the bloodiest 1-day battle in American history, among other historic landmarks. If you’re more of an outdoor enthusiast than a history buff, you can find plenty of activities at one of the many state or national parks within the county or along numerous rail trails transformed into biking and hiking trails.
Frederick is Maryland’s hottest housing market due in part to its history and wealth of amenities. Frederick’s walkable, 50-block historic downtown area comes packed with breweries, fine dining, boutique shopping and a captivating public art trail that features murals, sculptures, fountains and a hand-forged iron bridge. Outside the city, you’ll find local farms and orchards, the Frederick Wine Trail and the Catoctin Mountains, home to Camp David and the Cunningham Falls, a 78-foot waterfall.
While it’s a big decision, there are just seven easy steps to buying a house in Maryland.
1. Save for a down payment: The more cash you can put down on an offer, the lower your mortgage payment will be and the stronger your offer will look to sellers. If you’re using a conventional loan to purchase a home, try to make at least a 20% down payment to avoid paying private mortgage insurance (PMI).
2. Get your initial approval: Getting a mortgage preapproval from a lender will help you understand how much home you can afford and show sellers you’re a serious buyer.
3. Decide what you want in a house: Knowing your must-haves and deal breakers will help narrow your house hunting search.
4. Find an agent: A local real estate agent or REALTOR® will better understand the local market, help you find homes and help you negotiate to get your offer accepted. We recommend working with a Rocket Homes℠ Verified Partner Agent.
5. Tour homes: It can be hard to picture your life in a new home when you haven’t stepped foot in it. Take the time to walk through at least a few homes to get a better idea of what you love. And it will also be easier to spot red flags if you’re there in person.
6. Make an offer: Once you find the home you want to buy, you should put in an offer that’s attractive to the seller but factors in the asking price, your budget, comparables, days on the market, etc. You’ll want to act fast and may need to offer at or above the asking price if it’s a seller’s market because there may be heavy competition among buyers.
7. Close on your new Maryland home: Once your offer is accepted, you’ll go through the closing process, which includes getting the home appraised and inspected and sitting down to fill out the final paperwork and receive the keys to the home.
If you’re relocating to Maryland or buying your first home, it’s important to understand the nuances of real estate in the state. Here’s what you should know to prepare for buying a house in Maryland:
There may be state- and city-specific first-time home buyer grants and programs available. Do your research to see how you can save money. If this is the first time you’re buying a house in Maryland, you’ll want to know about the programs the Maryland Mortgage Program (MMP) offers:
Along with statewide programs, some cities also offer home buyer assistance. For example, Hagerstown offers city-renovated homes for a low price to eligible applicants and provides down payment assistance for those purchasing eligible, vacant homes in the city.
Typically, closing costs in Maryland are about 5% – 6% of a home’s purchase price. It’s within the range of average closing costs in the U.S., which is 3% – 6% of the purchase price. Some typical closing costs may include the:
According to the Insurance Information Institute, the damage from Hurricane Sandy resulted in $410 million in private insurance claims in Maryland. With its location right on the water, Maryland is one of 19 states that require homeowners to pay hurricane deductibles as part of their homeowners insurance policy. When reviewing your policy, check to see if the deductible is automatically included or listed as an option. You’ll also want to check if the deductible is a flat fee or a percentage of the coverage.
If you plan on leasing your home in the future, you’ll want to know about Maryland’s lease and rental agreement laws. Here is a sampling of laws to keep in mind:
Lease, rental and other real estate laws can change, so stay up to date if you’re a landlord or a tenant.
“America in Miniature” has a diverse landscape and population that may make it the perfect place for anyone who craves variety in their life and surroundings. Because the state's geography and communities are so diverse, make sure you take the time to understand what kind of scenery and lifestyle you wish to surround yourself with before starting your search.
Are you ready to begin the home buying process in Maryland? Get your initial approval from a Home Loan Expert at Rocket Mortgage® today.
*A number of the statistics in each listing were sourced from the U.S. Census Bureau, including 2021 population estimates, 2016-2020 median household incomes and 2016-2020 mean travel time to work for those 16 and older. Data from the July 2022 Rocket Homes Trend Report was used for the median home list price for each city.
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