If you're buying your first home in the Baltimore area, it's worth your time to meet with Tammi Lewis, Senior Mortgage Consultant with George Mason Mortgage, LLC. Tammi specializes in first time home buyer grant programs such as the Maryland Mortgage Program which can help with down payment and/or closing cost assistance for those buying a home in the Baltimore area.
Although the end of the year isn't traditionally the most active time for buying a home, it is an excellent time to prepare, learn more and be ready with mortgage plans so you are ready to take action in the new year.
I recently caught up with Tammi to ask her a few questions about mortgage programs.
Meet Tammi Lewis Who Discusses First Time Buyer Grant Programs
Linda: Tammi, tell us about your background and your current role with George Mason Mortgage, LLC?
Tammi: I've been doing this for 21 years. I started out as a processor and did underwriting. I managed a large mortgage company too. I spent six years with First Mariner as a loan officer. I joined George Mason Mortgage, LLC one year ago as a loan officer. I built my business as a loan officer by becoming an expert in 1st time home buyers and the programs available specifically to them.
As a loan officer, I help people get mortgages. I qualify them. I take them through the mortgage process and get them to the closing table so they can complete the purchase of Baltimore area real estate.
Linda: What exactly are 1st time buyer grant programs?
Tammi: There are a lot of programs available for first time real estate buyers in the Maryland and Baltimore area. In fact, each Maryland county has its own program - for example Baltimore County has a First Time Home Buyer program as does Anne Arundel County. Each one has different buyer requirements around income, credit, assets and distinct qualifications based on the county you've moving into. There's also the Federal Home Loan Bank. A good time to apply to the programs is at the beginning of the year when the programs are freshly funded.
These programs will help with down payment and closing costs.
Linda: What about the Maryland Mortgage Program?
Tammi: The Maryland Mortgage Program is available in every Maryland county.
If you have not owned a home in the past three years in the State of Maryland, there is an excellent chance you will be eligible for assistance of $5,000 at a minimum. And even if you have owned a home in the past three years, there are areas throughout the State where you might be able to buy again without the 3 year wait!
The Maryland Mortgage Program offers $5,000 in assistance or potentially more for down payment and/or closing cost assistance. For example, if you are purchasing a $200,000 home and the down payment is 3.5% or $7,000, you will receive $5,000 from The State of Maryland which means you only need to come up with $2,000 for the down payment.
The best part of this program is that the income limits are very high throughout every county in Maryland. Most assistance programs have a very low threshold for how much income you can make but this program allows for buyers to make over $100,000 and still qualify for the assistance.
The program also offers a special discount rate on interest rates.
A program like the Maryland Mortgage Program means that you don't need to wait to buy a home when rates are low and money is available. It's definitely worth it for prospective first time home buyers to call now to get prequalified!
Linda: What advice do you have for first time home buyers?
Tammi: Here's my advice:
- Pay your bills on time.
- Make payments on time so you have good credit and can quality for financing.
- It's important from a credit perspective that you are meeting your financial obligations.
- Get yourself pre-qualified for financing at the beginning of the process and work with an expert who can ensure you are doing things right.
By the way, getting pre-qualified is really important. You can’t just start looking at houses and then figure out how you're going to pay for Baltimore area real estate. You need to be able to prove to a realtor that you are a serious buyer and can purchase a house. That means that you need to contact a lender beforehand.
It doesn't take long to get qualified – maybe 5 to 10 minutes. You may need to provide supporting documents. You would pursue the Maryland Mortgage Program at the same time as you go through the prequalification process.
Linda: How does someone find out about first time buyer grant programs?
Tammi: The best way is to contact a lender and ask.
Lots of lenders stay away from 1st time buyer programs because they are intricate, very detailed and time-consuming.
Another program worth exploring is the Maryland HomeCredit Program. This tax credit is a way for first time homebuyers to reduce their tax liability to the government. It will reduce their taxable income so they will either pay less to the IRS if they owe money to them or receive a larger refund if they are going to get money back.
In the example on the website, the person owes $1,500 less because of the credit.
Linda: Tammi, what is the best way for readers to contact you with more questions?
Tammi: You can reach me via email at [email protected], visit the George Mason Mortgage website and complete a contact form or via phone at (410)725-9451.
Linda: Thank you, Tammi, for sharing your expertise about first time homeowner programs and the Maryland Mortgage Program.
Are you considering buying your first home? Let me know what questions you have.