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Get ready to call Columbia home

Voted the “No. 1 Small City to Live In” by Money Magazine, Columbia rests between Baltimore and D.C. Known for its commitment to diversity, this small city in Maryland has something for everyone. With skate parks, golf courses, and a strong appreciation of the arts, it’s no wonder people of all backgrounds are drawn to Columbia. Since housing prices in the area beginning to rise, now is the perfect time to invest in a home. Let Earnest help you make the transition.

Columbia has everything you need

Golf, swimming, arts and more are waiting for you in this small city

Columbia lies between Baltimore and Washington D.C. and is in close proximity to three international airports. Home to the Mall of Columbia and the Howard County General Hospital (a part of the prestigious John Hopkins Medical System), Columbia prides itself on its commitment to progress and diversity. Inside this small city, residents are never bored as the Columbia Association provides an assortment of recreational activities for the community. Explore the Robinson Nature Center or the Howard County Center of African-American Culture. Immerse yourself in the annual Columbia Festival of the Arts or the Lakefront Summer Festival. Or relax at one of Columbia’s golf clubs or kick back at one of the city’s many outdoor and indoor pools. Whatever your interest, there’s something for everyone.

Home buying in Columbia made easy

Take out the frustration of homebuying

Though the median house price in Columbia, Maryland is currently $362,300, house prices are steadily on the rise, making now the best time to invest in a new home. With 10 villages to browse, personal budgets to consider, and a wide selection of houses and apartments to choose from, buying a new home can quickly become overwhelming. Let Earnest take the frustration and confusion out of home buying and help you find the home of your dreams in Columbia. Whether you're an experienced homebuyer or a newbie, Earnest helps identify your priorities as a homebuyer, all while keeping your unique financial profile in mind in order to provide better service. Best of all, Earnest makes the application process simple by providing an easy-to-use online application.

Common Questions About Buying a Home in Columbia

All The Answers You Need to Settle Down Sooner

Should I choose a fixed or adjustable rate?

It depends how long you expect to stay in the home. Adjustable rates are good for people who may not be in the home long, whereas fixed rates are ideal for people who are confident of settling in.

Do I need a home appraisal?

Probably—in most cases, the homebuyer must use an appraiser to evaluate the value of the home. Appraisal costs vary depending on the value of the property, as well as the state the house is in. Buyers cannot choose their own appraiser—the bank makes the decision.

What is PMI?

Private mortgage insurance (PMI) is required when a homebuyer makes a down payment of less than 20%, or when a borrower refinances with less than 20% equity in the home. PMI fees vary according to your down payment and credit score, and adds a premium to your monthly mortgage payment. Please note, PMI is tax-deductible in 2015 and 2016 for certain income brackets.

What does Loan-to-Value mean?

Loan-to-Value (LTV) is the percentage of your home’s value that your loan represents. When refinancing, the calculation is simply the loan amount divided by the appraised value. When buying a home, the LTV is found by dividing by either the purchase price or appraised amount, whichever is lower. When the LTV is less than 80%, the lender generally requires PMI.

For example:

Purchase price: $100,000
Down payment: $15,000
Loan amount: $85,000
Appraised value: $110,000
LTV: $85,000/$100,000 = 85%

What are closing costs?

Closing costs are standard fees associated with a real estate transaction. You will typically pay about 2-5% of the purchase price in closing costs—the exact amount depends on where you are buying (or refinancing), as well as number of extra fees involved in your particular transaction. Earnest charges no lender fees, so the borrower is only responsible for 3rd-party fees.

What should I consider before refinancing my mortgage?

Refinancing your home loan is an attractive option when rates are low. A simple rate and term refinance can help you lower your monthly payment and potentially eliminate your PMI premium, as long as you have built up enough equity in the home. You might also use a cash-out refinance to access some of the equity you’ve built up in the home (which may result in a higher monthly payment on your new loan).

However, keep in mind that refinancing a mortgage does involve several fees (closing costs). Before refinancing, you should calculate the ‘break-even’ point at which your refinanced loan makes up for the closing costs. If you plan to leave your home before this time, it’s better to stay with your current mortgage.

Knowledge Is (Buying) Power

Further Resources from the Earnest Blog

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The intelligent home loan

When it comes to finding the right home loan, Earnest works hard to ensure that the process pain-free. We use an industry-leading and intuitive online-only application (meaning most times no scanner or fax machine required), a 5-star client service team, and a unique rolling pre-approval that stays current while you track down that perfect home. At Earnest, the home loan process is like no other.