Nationwide, mortgage rates are low in MD and home prices remain relatively low, too. This combination, plus rising rents, is pushing renters in some cities -- including Rockville -- toward first-time homeownership. Buying your first home can be exciting, but you should also do your research to make sure that you ask the proper questions of the process, and make the best choices for yourself and your household. For example, recommended questions for first-time buyers to ask home sellers include : What major repairs have been made to your home? Although standard disclosure forms are supposed to provide information regarding past damage and renovation to the property, there are occasionally repairs that are omitted or otherwise forgotten. Be proactive and ask pointed questions about the roof, the foundation, and the electrical system. Some home issue have a way of resurfacing many years later and it's best to know in advance. • To which school district does the home belong? As a first-time homebuyer, you may or may not have school-aged children. However, in many areas, public school rankings positively (or negatively) affect home values. Ask your real estate agent for school district data. Consider asking the seller for feedback, too. Is this a "distressed" property, and what does that mean to me? For many home buyers, the allure of a foreclosed home or a home in short sale can be large. Prices are discounted as compared to comparable real estate -- sometimes by as much as 20%. However, many distressed properties are sold as-is,” with little room for negotiation. This means that homes may be defective or, worse, uninhabitable. Ask your real estate agent for help with distressed homes and their suitability to your home buying needs. After asking the above questions, and other questions, too, it's important to remember that buying a home can be an emotional decision; and one that requires using your "brain" as much as your "heart". Try to keep emotions in check so that you don't overpay for a home that's unsuitable, for example.