20 Things To Know Before Buying A House In Florida
Below are the 20 things to know before buying a house in Florida. Buying a home in Florida is a big decision and you should be fully prepared since it will probably be one of the biggest purchases you make in your lifetime. As the premier Realtors in Jacksonville, FL, it’s our responsibility to make sure our home buyers are prepared for the real estate buying process. You can contact us anytime and here is our service area.
Make Sure Home Buying Is Right For You
Don’t ask a Realtor if home buying is right for you, they will almost always say yes because they get paid when you are buying a property in Florida. Ask a financial expert if you are financially healthy enough to buy. Once you determine who you are, then decide what is most important to you. Homeownership comes with many freedoms but it can also be a prison. You have the freedom to do whatever you want to the house within HOA and permit regulations but there is no freedom when it comes to being able to pick up and move right away. One of the biggest reasons I bought a home in Mandarin besides being financially ready was to ensure that my daughter felt like she had a home that was her and free to paint or do whatever she wanted to the house.
Have Your Financials In Order
Before you start the buying process, make sure you have all your financial documents available. Even further start the process to get pre-approved as early as possible. Many times the loan company can actually underwrite the loan before you decide on a home. This makes the closing process faster since all the mortgage company has to do now is sign off on the home after the appraisal comes back. Don’t make any big purchases or new credit hits on your report. Credit agencies give 14 days for you to shop at different mortgage lenders and consider all hard credit checks in that time as a single hit. So don’t be afraid to shop around.
Check Flood Map
Due to Floridas vast coastline, which let’s be honest is one of the reasons people buy here, checking to make sure the properties you are looking at aren’t in a flood zone is key. So if you’re looking for Ponte Vedra Beach real estate, chekcing these maps is important. Now just because it is in a flood zone, shouldn’t cross it off your list but you want to know early on if you are going to have the added expense of Flood Insurance. FEMA does subsidies flood insurance but it will still be an expense on top of normal homeowners’ insurance. This is extremely important when you are looking to buy a beach house in Florida. Here is a list of local Jacksonville flood insurance providers.
Talk to Multiple Realtors before Deciding On One
Don’t just settle for the first Realtor you talk to. Many people are afraid to say no to someone but remember this is the biggest purchase you will probably ever make. So make sure you are 100% comfortable with the Realtor you select.
Ask For a Closing Cost Rebate
This is a must for all home buyers in Florida. Ask for a closing cost rebate roughly equal to about 25% of the Realtor’s commission. I guarantee you will get it because the real estate agent will still make a good amount of money and doesn’t want to lose your business. Some Realtors, like us, already offer this right off the back for First Responders but if anyone asks us for it, we give it to them. there are many programs out there that offer you this to select one of their signed up agents but this way you can still choose an agent you are 100% comfortable with and get a bigger rebate as well.
Physically Go To Every House in Price Range
Buying a home in Florida isn’t something that you should take lightly. Don’t just rely on the pictures from the internet real estate searched. Some Realtors are cheap and do the photos themselves and it looks horrible online but in person, it looks great. The opposite can also be true. Another reason to look at every home in person is so that you can get an accurate gauge of what your budget gets you. This way you have a baseline and if you see something better at the same price you instantly know it.
Understand The Purchase Contract Before Writing One
This may be the most important one of the 20 things to know before buying a house in Florida. Many new buyers believe that their Realtor will protect them from anything in the purchase contract. While a good Realtor will do this and much more, many real estate agents are more focused on just getting the house under contract. Therefore you need to truly understand some of the more important parts of the contract. These include the Binder Deposit, Contingency, Fee allotment, Personal property Sections. These are super important sections and many homebuyers don’t really understand them. It’s our job as Realtors to make sure all our clients not just understand what they are signing but comprehend it too.
Go To The House At Different Times Of Day
The funniest thing about the process of buying a home in Florida is that so many people go to a house during the day, love it, and put an offer in without truly understanding the environment. Now sometimes you don’t have time to go to the house at different times of the day but going at least at night time as well as an important step to make sure you understand the neighborhood environment.
Understand What Is Required Of You
It’s important for you as home buyers to understand after the purchase contract, what is expected of you. The main things you need to get done are the loan approval, home inspection, other inspections if needed (Septic/Pool), send binder deposit, get home insurance and flood insurance (if required), don’t make any big financial changes like leaving a job, Wire transfer down payment, get a home warranty and do the final home walk through the day of closing.
Walk The Neighborhood
This is a simple and straightforward one. Walk the neighborhood after seeing a home you like. This will give you more time to see the surrounding homes and look at any problems. You might see that a few homes aren’t being taken care of and could be dropping the property values in the area. Walking will just give you more insight into the neighborhood than you could get by googling it.
Check Comps Before Submitting An Offer
While this should be the job of your Realtor, sadly there are some real estate agents that again are more focused on closing deals fast than making sure their clients get a fair deal. So check the recently sold homes in the area and make sure you aren’t paying more than the home is worth.
Verify Personal Property Section Of Contract
The personal property section of the purchase agreement has gotten a lot of people in trouble and even sued. Many home buyers and sellers don’t understand what should stay in the home after purchase even though the purchase contract makes it crystal clear. So make sure you understand this section and anything you want to stay with the home is listed here.
Always Ask For A Home Warranty
A seller offering a home warranty is almost guaranteed today but if it’s not listed then make sure you ask for one when submitting a home purchase contract. I have never heard of a seller unwilling to pay for this and walking away from a deal because of it. The top home warranty company is currently America Home Shield.
Prepare Yourself To Be Willing To Walk Away
This is probably the hardest part for first time home buyers, they fall in love with a home and don’t want to walk away. You need to prepare yourself before the process and set boundaries for when you will walk away from a home. This will help to make sure you don’t become house poor or accept things in a home you previously said you wouldn’t.
Understand What A Home Inspector Won’t Inspect
Think of the home inspector as a generalist not a specialist in any one thing. The saying “jack of all trades, master of none” is essentially them. they have a ton of knowledge on many aspects of the home but they aren’t as knowledgeable about any one thing. They know general electrical code but nothing close to what an electrician knows. They may also not know that certain homes are grandfathered into the current code and therefore could mark something as not up to code in the inspection report when it actually is.
In addition, home inspectors are not septic tank or pool inspectors and can’t give a detailed report on these. So you would need a septic tank professional to come out and check the tank. They have to pump the tank to inspect it so it is truly killing two birds with one stone. The same goes for a pool inspection, getting a company to come out and scuba dive in the pool is important to make sure there aren’t any issues.
Inspection Reports Aren’t Always Black and White
Inspection reports are long and try to list as much as possible that is wrong with the house. This doesn’t mean any of the issues listed are actually a big deal and in fact, many times items listed as needing correction are actually within code. A good Realtor will go over the inspection report with you and be able to provide you with more information on each item. A home built in the 1970s will probably be marked up as not within code for electrical but in actuality is grandfathered into the new housing code.
Bundle Homeowners Insurance With Car Insurance
You should always shop around for insurance but if your car insurance company also does home insurance, it may be the best to bundle together and save more money. Also, check with local insurance agencies as this could be a good time to move to a new company that could offer a bundling service and saves you money on car insurance as well.
Go Through Settlement Statement Fee By Fee
Once you get the ALTA Settlement Statement, go through line by line and make sure it matches who the contract allocates the fee too. There have been instances where the closing agent allots the fee to the wrong individual and it isn’t caught by anyone. Your Realtor should be doing this but many times they are just focused on making sure their commission is correct.
In addition, you need to go through so that you know exactly home much money you are bringing to the closing table. and needs to be wire transferred.
Keep In Constant Contact With Your Lender
Make sure you are constantly checking your mortgage lenders portal so that you can upload or comment on anything that needs to be done. This will assure you that there aren’t any delays. In addition, check your spam email folders as many times the emails asking for additional documents get indexed in this folder, and clients miss them. This can delay closing and worse could make you lose out on your home. I’ve had good experiences with Better Mortgage and Chase but have had clients have nightmare experiences with Good Mortgage. So be careful when selection on online focused mortgage lender.
This may be simple but ask all the questions you have. There truly is no stupid question when it comes to such a big purchase. Further, your Realtor is getting paid well and should answer or find the answer for you. Don’t accept a lazy real estate agent that makes you do all the work but still gets the big commission check at the end of the day. If you want to reach us you can also find us on Yelp and Angie’s List.
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