What do you need to buy a house in Florida? If you’re looking for a home in the Sunshine State, this question is at the top of your mind. You may be eager and excited to put down roots, to have a place you can well and truly call your own. But you may also be overwhelmed and intimidated by the process. In between these extremes of emotion are preparation and education. When you know what to expect, when you know the requirements to buy a house in Florida, then you can proceed with confidence.
So without further ado…
7 Requirements to Buy a House in Florida
- Savings. No, it’s not as exciting as going to an open house or lusting over listings, but building a solid financial foundation is the single most important step as you go through the home buying process. You know the drill: save, save, save.
Make sure you have an emergency fund that covers three to six months’ worth of living expenses. Beyond this, establish a fund for expenses related to buying and owning a home, including closing costs, moving, setting up utilities, buying essentials, etc. (And keep padding the emergency fund!)
Depending on your timeline, it may make sense for you to move money into a secure savings vehicle, such as a CD (certificate of deposit), so you can “earmark” that money for your home while earning a little interest in a very low-risk way.
Buying a home isn’t a dream that is made a reality overnight. It takes time, preparation, and dedication to make it happen. Just know this: you can do it! You’re making strides right now by educating yourself.
- Acceptable Credit Score. When it comes to requirements to buy a house in Florida, a strong credit score is near the top of the list. Obviously, a great credit score is best when it comes to obtaining the most advantageous terms for your mortgage. But, as most of us are human, past circumstances can knock us off the perfect pedestal of 850. A perfect score may be difficult to achieve, but a “very good” or “excellent” one is possible.
Most lenders are looking for at least a 620. This falls in the “fair” part of the credit spectrum and you will likely get offers for fairly advantageous loans. Anything below this, and you will be viewed as a “bad risk.” Now, even if your score is in the range of 620, it is to your benefit to work to boost it as much as possible as you start the home-hunting and buying process.
To do this, access your free credit reports. You are entitled to three free reports a year, one each from Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion. Look for inaccuracies (e.g. debts you have paid but do not appear as cleared) that are dragging your score down, as well as opportunities for improvement. If you can clear outstanding debts, your credit score rises, as does your ability to secure favorable loan terms.
As mentioned, buying a home is a marathon, not a sprint. Like saving, this is part of the journey that, while not exactly thrilling, will make subsequent steps easier.
- Mortgage Pre-Approval. What do you need to buy a house in Florida? Financing! If you are not a cash buyer, you will need to obtain a mortgage. It is important to get pre-approved for a loan before you start house hunting and even before you engage with a real estate agent.
Most sellers will not even show a home if you do not have pre-approval; they can’t take the risk. They need to know that if you put in an offer, you have the financial standing necessary to complete the transaction.
It is beneficial to do some shopping when it comes to your lender. Beyond interest rates and terms, look for those with consistently good reviews, effective communication, and transparent processes. Be thorough before you apply for pre-approval as the resulting credit checks can impact your credit score by a few points. So, in other words, don’t try to get pre-approval from 15 lenders and then compare terms; narrow your list down to two or so and then select the best option. (And this is another reason you need to shore up your credit score from the get-go.)
- Experienced Real Estate Agent. With the previous steps completed, now it is time to find the right real estate agent. This professional can help you navigate the complexities of the home buying process, leverage their access to listings and to extensive networks, and move with greater efficiency and speed. They will also be able to advise you as to your offer, negotiating positions, and whether or not counter offers are worth making. When you have an agent you can trust, their assistance is nothing short of invaluable.
Look for professionals with good reviews in your area; ask friends, family, and associates for referrals; check credentials. Yes, it involves a few steps and some research, but this is time and effort well spent.
- Realistic Picture Of What You Want, What You Need, and What You Can Afford. When it comes to requirements to buy a house in Florida, realistic expectations are certainly important. As mentioned (and repeated!) finances are the foundation of a successful transaction. This includes establishing a budget: what can you really afford? Some lenders will approve you for mortgages for larger figures – but this may not take into account other expenses, such as closing, moving, and operating in a new home. It is up to you to set your limits – and stick to them.
At this stage, take the time to determine your firm “must-haves.” These are non-negotiable elements you must have in your home. Then think about what you would like to have but can live without. No two homebuyers have the same musts versus wishes, so be clear on what matters most to you.
- Home Inspection. Repeat after us: Never. Buy. A. House. Without. An. Inspection! We know, we know… in this housing market, many people are buying sight unseen. The problem is that if you do not go through a thorough (and independent) inspection process, you may not know about potential problems. Everything from faulty foundations to pest problems can turn your dream home into a nightmare. Make sure any offer you put in is contingent upon a good inspection report.
Synergy Homes has rigorous inspections built into the processes. When you buy a new model home, you will not have to worry about inheriting existing problems, paying to upgrade or improve the structure, or spending thousands more making it liveable.
- Patience. One of the biggest requirements to buy a house in Florida is… patience. It can take time to position yourself advantageously for a successful transaction. Yes, the market does often demand that you move quickly and agilely, much of the process is about laying the groundwork and having the patience to take each step as it comes.
When you build a solid foundation, so to speak, it makes it much easier to move quickly when you need to in terms of making an offer.
Synergy Homes: Making Your Dream Home a Reality
Synergy Homes specializes in affordable, energy-efficient, high-performance homes that never compromise on style, comfort, or elegance. With a variety of floor plans and designs – all designed for living life to the fullest – our team creates more than houses. We build homes.
To learn more about our high-performance homes and to schedule a walkthrough, contact Synergy Homes.