A first stop for most buyers will be a real estate agent or mortgage lender. In addition, the public library has real estate books, as well as home sales and tax assessment records to NTC help in shopping for a house.
But for those who want to dig even deeper, the following is a short list of resources.
Many trade groups offer guides to buying a home or shopping for various services.
* American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI), Greater Baltimore Chapter, Annapolis, 410-268-5242; ASHI national headquarters, Chicago, 800-743-2744; trains and certifies home inspectors and refers buyers and sellers to inspectors in their area.
* Community Associations Institute (CAI), Alexandria, Va., 703-548-8600; offers resources and information to homeowner association board members and leaders.
* Greater Baltimore Board of Realtors (GBBR), 410-462-2500; Maryland Association of Realtors (MAR), Annapolis, 800-638-6425; National Association of Realtors (NAR), Washington, D.C., 202-383-1000.
* Home Builders Association of Maryland, (HBAM), Woodlawn, 410-265-7400.
* Manufactured Housing Institute (MHI), Arlington, Va., 703-413-6620; offers information about manufactured and modular homes, and gives referrals for manufactured home builders and set-up companies.
* National Association of Exclusive Buyer's Agents (NAEBA), Annapolis, 410-269-1136; advocacy group for homebuyers' rights, and supports real estate agents who represent buyers
* Baltimore City Home Ownership Institute, 410-396-3124; sponsors workshops and seminars to help city residents understand how to qualify for home loans; promotes programs to help low- and moderate-income residents buy homes.
* Maryland Attorney General's Office, Consumer Protection Division, Baltimore, 410-528-8662. Consumers may call the office ask questions or register complaints about their mortgage loans or other aspects of their home purchase.
* Maryland Department of Assessment and Taxation, Baltimore, 410-225-1340. Call this number to find out about property tax rates in Maryland townships, cities and counties.
* Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Homeownership Programs, Crownsville, 410-514-7501; publishes free literature for first-time homebuyers, and offers low-income loan programs.
* Maryland Real Estate Commission, Baltimore, 410-333-6230; licenses and regulates the activities of real estate agents; accepts complaints about agents and brokers.
* U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD), Baltimore office, 410-962-2520; owns properties for sale and offers information about home-buying.
* Fannie Mae/The Federal National Mortgage Association, Baltimore, 410-659-1205; Washington, D.C. 800-832-2345; federally chartered agency and the nation's largest source of home mortgage funds; local office counsels homebuyers and works with lenders to make low- to moderate-income loans available.
* American Homeowners Foundation, Arlington, Va., 703-536-7776; nonprofit education organization for homeowners and prospective homeowners; provides sample contracts and publishes pamphlets and books, including "The Complete Homebuyer's Guide."
* Maryland Low Income Housing Coalition and Information Service, Baltimore, 410-727-4225; nonprofit group offers counseling and referral services on cleaning up credit, qualifying for loans and finding affordable housing; umbrella group for non-profit groups in the area.
* United Homeowner's Association, Washington, D.C., 202-408-8842; nonprofit group that lobbies for legislation to protect homeowner interests.
* "Barron's Real Estate Handbook." Third Edition. Jack C. Harris and Jack P. Friedman. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1993.
* "Dictionary of Real Estate Terms." Second Edition. Jack P. Friedman, Jack C. Harris and J. Bruce Lindeman. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1987.
* "Keys to Buying a Home." Jack P. Friedman. New York: Barron's Educational Series, Inc., 1990.
* "Opening the Door to a Home of Your Own." Washington, D.C.: Fannie Mae, 1993 (800-832-2345).
* "Tennyson Directory of Unique Loan Programs." Jim Tingley. Fairfax, Va.: The Tennyson Group, Inc., expected to be published by April 1995. (703-385-1550).
Services may offer bulletin boards, classified ads and real-time forum discussions for buyers and sellers. Browsers may also locate articles about real estate investing and profiles of real estate companies. To use on-line database services, a subscription to the service, computer hardware, software and telephone are necessary. Among the largest services:
* America Online. Key word to access real estate information: REAL ESTATE. Registration info: 800-522-6364
* CompuServe. Key word to access real estate information: GO NEIGHBORHOOD. Registration: 800-848-8199
* General Electric Information Services (GEnie). 800-638-9636
* Prodigy Services Co. Key word: JUMP HELP. Registration information: 800-776-3449.