You’re ready to buy a home? Congratulations! For many of us, purchasing a house is not only the most significant investment we make, but also the most meaningful in terms of the sense of security, safety, and stability we can achieve – not to mention the memories we can make with family, friends, neighbors, and community. But before you go charging ahead and going to open house after open house, take some time to educate yourself on the process. Start with five helpful tips for first time home buyers in Florida.
Here Are Some Tips for First Time Home Buyers In Florida
If you are looking for a home, you’ve likely been scouring listings and dreaming of your future. Excellent! This is worthwhile, and you should have a good sense of what you want. But even before this, you can begin laying the groundwork for a successful real estate transaction. Many Florida real estate tips come down to preparation, education, and… finances!
We cannot emphasize strongly enough how important it is to start the homebuying process on sound financial footing. This, in turn, will help you better prepare for and manage the costs of homeownership. In short:
- Knock down (or out) any debt you can.
- Save. Establish an emergency fund, if you don’t have one already. It should cover a few months’ worth of expenses. If you have that in place, keep adding and/or start an account to cover the associated costs of buying and moving into a home (e.g. closing costs, moving).
- Determine what you can put down. Well, the more the better! For conventional loans, many lenders today want to see the full 20% down payment.
- Check your credit report. You are entitled to three free credit reports each year (one from each Experian, TransUnion, and Equifax), so take advantage. Scour them for inaccurate or outdated entries, and clear those. If you have outstanding debt, again, pay it off as soon as you can.
Determine your home buying budget. It is not necessarily what mortgage calculators or even lenders tell you that you can afford. It is what you can comfortably afford when you have factored in the other costs of ownership. It is essential that you factor in associated expenses, including closing costs, moving, maintenance and improvement costs, etc.
Look Into First Time Home Buyer Programs In Florida
One of the hottest tips for first time home buyers in Florida is investigating programs that are designed to help you move through common barriers, such as low credit scores or limited funds for a downpayment, as well as capitalizing on tax breaks and other incentives.
- Florida Housing’s First Time Homebuyer Program. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation’s mission is to make housing more accessible for folks with lower/moderate incomes. The First Time Homebuyer Program can help you get low interest, fixed-rate mortgages, and even down payment and closing cost assistance.
- State Housing Initiatives Program (SHIP). SHIP helps with down payment and closing costs, which can be a major barrier to homeownership for many folks.
- Florida Housing Mortgage Certificate Program (MCC). This is another Florida Housing Finance Corporation program, and it is intended to help you save money as a homeowner. You can deduct 50% of your mortgage interest as a tax credit on your federal returns, reducing your tax burden. Another benefit is that, under the program, you may qualify for a larger loan.
- Local Programs for First Time Home Buyers. Inquire with your city and/or county to see if there are incentive programs. In Broward County, for instance, a partnership with the housing authority and local lenders can get you a 3% down payment loan and lower rates on a mortgage.
- Federal First Time Buyer Programs. You may also qualify for federal programs, such as advantageous USDA Direct Loan, Hometown Heroes, VA, and FHA loans. These can reduce down payment requirements and closing costs (and, in some cases, eliminate them altogether) while making the dream of homeownership attainable.
Look for a Lender and Pre-Approval
Shop around for the right lender. Look for those with ample positive reviews and with a strong local presence. So many homebuyers found themselves upside-down with lenders who specialized in the finest of fine print. Make sure that the lenders you are considering are 100% transparent in their processes and their communications.
Pre-approval will allow you to house hunt with confidence, and it will improve your position when it comes to making an offer. Sellers will know that you are serious and that you have the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction.
Engage an Experienced Real Estate Professional
While you can purchase a home on your own, working with an experienced real estate agent allows for a far more streamlined process – and one that will save you time, money, and hassles. The right professional has an extensive network and can help you hone in on houses that work for your needs and your budget.
It’s best to get an agent on board even before you start hunting for your dream house. They can help you navigate the complexities with greater agility, flexibility, and speed and will fill you in on all the relevant Florida real estate tips you need to know as an informed buyer.
Consider a New Build vs. Buying Existing
When you purchase an existing house, you are also buying all of the issues and challenges the previous owner dealt with. It may be a leaky roof, insufficient insulation, windows, and doors that are below grade when it comes to hurricane safety… You have to be vigilant when it comes to inspecting an existing home to ensure it won’t become a money pit.
With a new build, you do not have to worry about “inheriting” someone else’s problems. Your home is move-in ready and all systems (e.g. roof, foundation, windows, insulation, etc.) are built up to, or exceeding, current standards.
Many people think that new builds are inherently more expensive than existing homes. Given the factors we discussed, however, a model home can be the most financially-sound option.
Synergy Homes: Home Sweet High-Performance Home
If you want to make your dream of homeownership a reality, start hunting with Synergy Homes. Our elegant, spacious, efficient, high-performance homes are designed and constructed with meticulous care, ensuring that you achieve efficiencies and savings year after year. Not only that… They never compromise on comfort and style.
Contact Synergy Homes to schedule a walkthrough of our model homes and to access your free consultation. We are here to help you come home.