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9 Steps to Buying a House in Florida

The process to buy a house in Florida is a relatively straightforward endeavor, though it is labor-intensive, time-consuming, and stressful. Thanks to modern conveniences, you can spend less time sifting through paperwork and more time viewing homes and closing loans. Follow these steps to ensure your purchase is the easiest, fastest, and most satisfying home buying experience possible.

 

Step 1 – Start Your Real Estate Search Online

At one time, real estate purchasers began their search by sorting through several publications, like local newspapers, free MLS listing catalogs, fliers, and classified advertisements put out by private sellers. Not only did you have to rely on paper publications, you asked friends and family for word of mouth recommendations to get into a good home in the right location. It was a lot of work to filter through dozens of pages of ads and personal references to narrow down a list of properties with the most potential.

These days, starting a home search is a lot easier. Approximately 51 percent of first-time home buyers in Florida begin their home search online. The internet is one of the most powerful tools to help make your quest easier. Multiple filters and information from trusted sources can be found in one place, which makes all the difference in the world when it comes to time management and level of difficulty during the hunt. Nearly every buyer today researches properties and agents online, either initially or as their mission progresses.

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Though the nature of finding appropriate properties has changed over the years, one thing remains the same: 88 percent of all home buyers still use a real estate agent to help them find their home, negotiate with buyers and their agents, and make a final purchase on a home or commercial property. Your agent is the most useful asset during the purchasing process. They have information and guidance available to them that you’ll never find online.

However, 90 percent of real estate agents have websites with comprehensive information about their offerings, qualifications, office locations, and trusted lending partners. The easiest way to discreetly view property listings or find an agent is to view their website. If you feel an agent has comprehensive offerings, experience, and enough connections to get you into your dream home on your budget, it’s time to open a line of communication.

Step 2 – Open Communication with a Florida Realtor

Search for the Florida Real Estate Agent and make the first contact. It doesn’t matter whether you call them, text them, or email them. They will respond to any form of communication. Simply explain to them that you are interested in purchasing a home and would love to speak with you about how they can help.

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Step 3 – Confirm Your Purchasing Power with a Mortgage Lender

While some consumers rely on the internet to begin their search, another 40 percent of all American home buyers go to their friends and loved ones for advice before deciding to buy a home. Very few people approach an agent or lender during the beginning stages of the home buying process, even though it would save them a lot of time to do so.

The truth is motivated sellers prefer to have prospective buyers that are pre-approved for mortgages. They won’t take you seriously until you have a verified pre-approval letter or proof of funds. By speaking with a lender before getting too far into the search, you can understand exactly how much house you can afford, or if you can even get a loan in the first place. Your pre-approval status and the amount of the loan your mortgage lender (Insert Calendly link) is willing to make will drive the rest of your search.

  

Step 4 – Discuss Your ‘5 Must-Haves’ with Your Real Estate Agent

Everyone has their standards. What are yours? What is most important to you in a home? Square footage, quality of schools, number of bathrooms, an attached garage, and other factors should be considered. What points are you willing to negotiate on? Narrow down your list to 5 must-have attributes and go from there. Understand that you probably won’t find a property with every single aspect that you want, but if you’re flexible, you’ll probably find a property that will make you very happy.

Some things go without saying, too. For instance, the homes you add to your shortlist should be up to code, able to withstand the inclement weather in Florida and in good enough repair that lenders will agree the home is a good investment. Otherwise, loans might stall and sales can fall through. If a sale falls through, you will have to go right back to the drawing board and look for another property.

Step 5 – View Homes

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After finding the balance between your budget, your needs, and your desires, make a short list of properties that meet your standards. With every property, you add to the list, have your Real Estate Agent do some in-depth research to find out why the current homeowners are moving. You’ll want to know if it’s a problem with the house, the neighbors, a looming foreclosure or something else.

If the neighbors will rub you the wrong way or they’re involved in something that’s against your personal code of ethics, purchasing that house isn’t such a good idea. Is there a new controversial business moving into the area? Is a new highway being built or are commercial interests expected to boom in the area? Those are all important considerations to take into account before making an offer. You don’t want to buy a home at full price right before its value tanks.

Certain factors can up your purchasing power with specific properties, too. For example, if John Doe is putting his house on the market because he’s about to lose it to the bank, you might be able to work out a special price on a quick sale. Being pre-approved helps you in this circumstance, too!

Step 6 – Narrow down the Choices

Make sure that your top 3 list meets your “must-haves” criteria. These homes need to be within your budget and you must be willing to make a low-ball offer, too. In a hot market, narrowing down your shortlist of homes is easy because there isn’t much selection. In a sluggish market, it’s a lot more difficult to make a top 3 list because there are so many available properties. Of course, buying in a sluggish market is preferable because sellers are more amenable to making concessions and negotiating prices.

Step 7 – Learn the Neighborhood

Have you driven around the neighborhoods on your shortlist? You should! It’s good to know whether your kids will need to ride or walk to school, if there’s a grocery store nearby, or if there’s a park within walking distance. Are there any sex offenders in the neighborhood and is the crime rate (Insert https://www.crimereports.com/ as a link) acceptable to you? Does the neighborhood have an invasive HOA? Are there community events that can help you get to know your neighbors? All of these things are very important when it comes to daily life in your new home. Do your research!

Step 8 – Time for Making an Offer on a House

Making an offer is a delicate process. If the home is priced fairly and it is within your budget, it’s within reason to offer 5 percent below the asking price. If there are circumstances surrounding the sale that could allow for you to get the home at a much lower price, offer as little as 20 percent lower than what they want. If you go below 20 percent, you run the risk of insulting and angering the seller. If that happens, it’s quite possible that you will lose your chance to negotiate any further on the property.

Step 9 – Time for house closing and moving in!

When an offer is accepted, the remaining home-buying process becomes less labor intensive but more stressful. You will need to have all of your paperwork in order, including tax documents, credit reports, down payments, money to lower your amortized interest rate, appraisal and inspection documents, and more. Additionally, you will need to have a title company lined up, an insurance company in mind, and an escrow account started for depositing your property taxes.

You probably already had to gather all of that information in order to gain pre-approval for your mortgage, but if this paperwork is incomplete, it will stall your loan. Make sure you’re absolutely ready to sign your mortgage contract because sales can fall through at the last minute if you aren’t prepared. On the day you sign your contract with the title company and bank, the home becomes yours. Congratulations! It’s time to move in.

Find a trusted moving company or arrange for a moving truck and vans to transport your possessions to your new home. Don’t forget to register the kids for school, get in touch with your local HOA, and plan your housewarming party. Welcome to your new home. Enjoy!

If you’re ready to begin your home search, contact us today for a no-obligation consultation. We can help you find the best lenders and properties for your needs. We look forward to helping you get into your home as quickly and easily as possible.

 

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