Year-round warmth and sun. Gorgeous scenery. Diverse cultures and vibrant art scenes. World-class cuisine. Stunning parks and nature preserves. Top-notch recreational pursuits. There are endless reasons to call the Sunshine State home. But most important, perhaps, is the sense of putting down roots in a community that matters to you. The feeling of making an investment in your future, and of making indelible memories with your family, friends, and neighbors. There are many steps to buying a house in Florida, but the first one is to arm yourself with information. An educated homebuyer is a successful homeowner. So, we’re glad you’re reading this! You’re on the right track. Here’s how to buy a house in Florida these days.
How to Buy a House in Florida
When you’re thinking about steps to buying a house in Florida, you are no doubt reading the headlines, listening to the news, and otherwise wading through the murky waters of the housing market. Good for you. It is important to stay on top of the latest, but this can also distract, or dissuade you, from your mission of purchasing a home.
Yes, having an idea of what’s going on in the Florida housing market is beneficial. However, it is even more essential that you prepare yourself for homeownership by taking sound, fundamental steps:
Look At Your Finances
You may be buying your dream home, but you need to stay grounded in reality! Be sure you have a solid financial base – and well before you begin active house hunting. This includes:
- Cleaning up your credit. You can access three free credit reports each year (one each from TransUnion, Experian, and Equifax). While they do not provide your score, you can see your credit history, identify debts you should clear, and perhaps, spot inaccuracies that are dragging you down. Take steps to build better credit; it helps you secure a more favorable loan.
- Saving. And saving some more. When it comes to buying a home, you cannot save enough. Be sure to have an emergency fund (equivalent to about three to six months’ worth of expenses) and start saving for housing-related costs, such as closing, moving, new furnishings, etc. When you think you have enough – add more.
- Planning for closing, a down payment, and related expenses. These can be a shock to homeowners. You need to be able to afford more than the mortgage payment! Have funds to turn on the lights, so to speak.
- Shopping (strategically) for lenders. When you apply for pre-approval, it does ding your credit score a little. So instead of applying with a dozen lenders and then selecting one, vet them first. Who has the best reviews? Who operates with maximum transparency? Who has a strong local presence?
- Gaining pre-approval. Get pre-approved for your mortgage. Owners/sellers will typically not even show a home to someone without this key document. It indicates that not only do you have interest in the home but that you have the financial wherewithal to complete the transaction.
Saving and solidifying your financial state is one of the key steps to buying a house in Florida.
Find an Experienced Florida Real Estate Agent
Yes, you can buy a house in Florida without a real estate agent, but enlisting the help of a professional benefits you in numerous ways. They know the Florida market inside and out; they have vast networks and connections with other agents, lenders, builders, contractors, and others who can help turn your dream of homeownership into a reality. And let’s not forget that buying a home is a complex process; an experienced real estate agent will guide you through the difficult terrain, help you avoid common obstacles, and ensure all the legal i’s are dotted and t’s crossed.
Look at Neighborhoods, Not Just Houses
You are moving into a home, but you are also moving into a community. Does it offer the services and amenities you need and want? For example, if you have children, excellent schools may be at the top of your priority list. Or if you are a young professional, you may want to be in close proximity to job opportunities. If you’re an active senior, you may want to find the world’s best golf courses down the road.
There are other concerns and questions as well: is the neighborhood safe? Do neighbors tend to watch out for one another? Does it feel like a close-knit community (you may or may not value this, and that’s fine!)? Is it walkable? Is it as densely or thinly populated as you desire? Is it close to transit opportunities and major roadways?
Walk the neighborhood and see what you think. If you spot someone out tending their garden, for example, see if they’ll chat for a few minutes about their experience in the neighborhood. This will tell you a lot more than any listing!
Be Prepared to Move – But Not Afraid to Negotiate
Wondering how to buy a house in Florida? Lately, the answer has been “As fast as you can!” With low inventory, houses have been moving like hotcakes! Yes, you do need to be able to move quickly and with agility – but that does not mean you should compromise on your budget or your must-haves. This is where the help of an experienced real estate agent really comes in handy.
Do Not Skip the Inspection
Never. Don’t do it. Again, because of the tight market, some buyers are placing and winning bids on homes they’ve never set foot in. If it is a new build, this is probably fine. “Probably” is not worth your hard work, savings, and future, though. Synergy Homes has rigorous inspection processes built into each model home – but we still welcome and encourage you to visit, inspect, and reassure yourself of the quality.
An inspection is even more vital when it comes to an existing house. You do not want to find out you have black mold, termites, structural damage, or no insulation in your first few months of homeownership. These are costly problems that will come to haunt you.
Dot the I’s and Cross the T’s
Here again, your real estate agent is an invaluable asset. Buying a home is a complex financial and legal process. From the initial offer to the closing agreements to the contracts and final closing, you need to ensure that every loose end (e.g. title searches, fees, etc.) is tied up.
After you close, you grab those keys and come home! It is a wonderful feeling to know you have worked, saved, sacrificed and withstood the rollercoaster that is the housing market. Enjoy.
Take the First Steps to Buy a House In Florida with Synergy Homes
Synergy Homes is a top Florida home builder; our model homes are high-performing, energy-efficient, elegant… and waiting for you to come home. Contact our team today.