What you need to know to Buy a Home in Florida

Critical steps to buying a home in Florida

Find a Realtor

According to the National Association or Realtors Profile of Home Buyers, 88% purchased their home with a real estate professional, 8% purchased directly from a builder and only 6% purchased a home offered by owner. 

Where do you find a Realtor? 

WARNING: Do not by pushing the dreaded “Contact Agent” button on any of the popular real estate search sites like Realtor.com or Zillow. You are contacting an agent who pays for your lead. You are NOT contacting the listing agent of the property on your screen!

You will need to do your research to make sure they qualify to support you in your home buying goals. Not all real estate agents are created equal. Finding a full-time Realtor with communication skills to truly understand your goals is imperative. Trusted real estate advisors fit in the category of accountants, financial advisors and specialists. Ask your family and friends who they would recommend. Check the Realtor’s reviews online. 

This article written by Homelight.com gives some great advice on how to find the best Realtor for your home buying process. 

Interview Realtors

You are looking to hire a Realtor who will guide you through a legally binding contract for potentially your largest asset. Taking time to identify the right person for the job is essential.

Find a Realtor who is willing to consult with you before running you around the city showing you homes that do not fit your criteria. A proper consultation should be a meeting where you can interview the Realtor. The consultation is a process for the Realtor to ask you questions, identify your goals and motivations, and set proper expectations of the home buying process. 

The consultation should end with an agreement, written or implied, for you to work  together. You are not financially obligated by the agreement made during the consultation process. Realtors do not get paid for their services until the transaction closes. 

The majority of home buyers commit to a Realtor to help them find a house. Finding a house is a small step of the bigger picture. Your Realtor should help you find a house and more importantly, make sure you get to the closing table and are able to call the house your home. 

Being open and honest with your real estate professional will ensure your success. If you find a home without your Realtor, make sure to contact them before moving forward.

REMEMBER: Realtors are paid by commission only. If you are not clicking with your Realtor, be open and let them know your frustrations. Do NOT work with more than one Realtor at a time. 

Pre-Approved for Financing

There’s nothing more frustrating than getting your hopes up, finding the perfect home,  picking out paint colors, and bragging to your family and friends only to have a financing hiccup to crush your dreams. 

If you are buying a home and have not already been approved for financing with a lender, the Realtor should be able to connect you with a trusted and qualified resource. Make sure to take the pre-approval step before seeing homes.

In today’s real estate market, a pre-approval letter from a lender is necessary to submit with an offer to purchase a home. 

Finding your dream home

Contrary to popular belief, this is not the hard part. With so many websites and  resources, Buyers typically find the homes they want to see on their own. The MLS (multiple listing system) syndicates all homes for sale to hundreds of websites like Realtor.com, Trulia and Zillow. However, homes on a website look dramatically different in person. 

Sometimes Realtors may know about homes that are coming on the market or if there is a homeowner who would consider selling. At the higher-end price point, this is the norm. These properties will not be seen on the popular websites. 

After a thorough consultation, your Realtor should have a good understanding of your dream home and will be able to find homes you might have not seen. Just remember, unless it is new construction, there will be a few elements of the home that might not fit your style and criteria. Look at the overall picture – space, flow, location, price. Minor things can be changed to turn the house into your dream home once you are in it.

Is this a home you would like to purchase?

If the answer is YES, then it is time to write an offer. 

Your Realtor will have access to additional data to support your purchase decision such as tax records, property disclosure, homeowner’s association details (where applicable), neighborhood and zoning information, area sales statistics, etc. A good Realtor will also contact the listing agent to find out additional details the seller is willing to share regarding the sale of their home. These details might include: 

  • Length of ownership 
  • Updates & Improvements 
  • Time frame for closing 
  • Seller’s Motivation

Preparing the offer

In the state of Florida there are two types of Residential Sales and Purchase agreements. 

  1. The most commonly used is the As-Is contract, meaning you are buying the home in its as-is condition with the right to inspect and cancel. 
  2. The ‘standard’ Sales and Purchase agreement allows the seller to make necessary repairs by an appropriately licensed person prior to your purchase. 

Determining which contract is best for your situation will be determined by your time, resources, and ability to make needed repairs after you purchase the home. If you are handy or have good connections, the As-Is contract might be a great option for you. If you have a busy lifestyle and do not want to deal with repairs, consider the standard Sales and Purchase agreement. 

It is also important to discuss with the seller’s real estate agent and determine which contract is preferred by the seller, time frame to move, and motivation. 

Your Realtor should provide comparable sales in the area to help you determine the value of the property. Market conditions, days on the market and other factors will determine how you prepare your offer. 

Once both the buyer and seller have agreed to all terms, signed the contract and delivered it to the other party, you are now in a legally binding agreement to perform per the terms of the contract. The date the last signature/initial was made becomes the effective date. 

Homeowners Insurance in Florida

If you are getting a mortgage on your home, your lender will require Homeowner Insurance. A few factors to consider when shopping for homeowners insurance are;

  • Amount of coverage you want and need
  • Deductible costs
  • Flood Insurance coverage

When you receive the quote back from an insurance agent, check to see the amount of content coverage. Does it meet or exceed the coverage you need? Also, did they add “additional structures” to the quote? If you do not have additional structures on the property, make sure to have these removed. Your contents and valuables will determine the amount of insurance you wish to carry. 

Flood insurance is another factor to consider when purchasing a home in Florida but it shouldn’t be one that frightens you. Some areas are prone to flooding but it doesn’t necessarily mean water intrusion into the home. Canals, retention ponds, lakes and proper drainage have been greatly improved to create water runoff and deter flooding. If flooding has occurred in the home, the current homeowner must disclose this information. 

If the home you are purchasing is in a flood zone, which is common in Florida, you will also want to carry flood insurance. Flooding is not covered under your homeowners insurance. If the current homeowner has flood insurance, ask to see if it is transferrable. Most flood insurance policies are transferrable but homeowners insurance policies are not. 

FEMA’s website about the National Flood Insurance Program is the best website to provide you with up-to-date flood maps, policy information and answer questions or concerns you have. 

Home Warranty

Purchasing a home buyer’s warranty can give you a great sense of protection and security. Home warranty policies are fairly inexpensive and cover the main mechanical components of the house as well as the major electrical appliances. There are several policies available with different service and repair costs. Make sure the policy you choose covers the items important to you like, HVAC system, pool, roof, etc.

Contract to Close - The Emotional Rollercoaster

Finding a house and writing an offer is exciting but nothing beats signing the closing documents at the closing table and inviting your family and friends over to celebrate at your new home. Negotiating the offer to terms the buyer and seller accept and then moving through to the closing table can appear to be a survival-of-the-fittest obstacle course where only the strong survive. A Realtor’s true value shows up from the time you are ready to write an offer all the way to the closing table. 

During this time it is important to remember your motivations for buying this home. The contract is full of many deadlines. Staying within those timeframes can seem a little overwhelming. Ask your Realtor for a complete list of deadlines and then mark your calendar. Make sure you have ample time to take the necessary steps on your end. Ensuring each party abides by the time-frames of the contract and communicating to all parties involved in the transaction are keys to success in the home buying process. Your Realtor should be able to guide you along the steps and help with the emotional rollercoaster the buyer and seller experience during this process. It is important to remember your motivation for buying and have expectations set along the way. 

Closing and Post-Closing

YAY! You’ve made it to the finish line! 

In Florida closings usually take place at a Title Company but in some situations an attorney will close the file. It is typical for the seller to pay for the buyer’s title policy and choose the title company or attorney to handle the closing. The process is the same with either. A title search will be performed prior to closing and a title commitment will be issued at the closing. 

If you are getting a mortgage you will sign all of the mortgage documents at the closing table as well. Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) requires you to receive your loan documents 3 business days prior to closing. You will have ample time to review and make sure everything is correct before you sit down at the closing table. 

Once you have closed on your home and move in, you will start to learn about the nuisances of your property. A home warranty will come in handy to protect your money if (or when) an appliance breaks or a major repair is needed. Your Realtor will be a great resource to guide you and provide you with trusted vendors to service your new home.  

Keep your closing documents in a secure, accessible place! It will be important for you to file your Homestead Exemption if you are occupying the property as a primary residence. Your Realtor and the Title company will be able to ensure you file in the proper time frame. You will need your closing documents to file for your Homestead Exemption and also for filing your personal taxes.  

Let YES-Homes assist you in the purchase of your Florida Home

The home buying process can be complex. Finding a professional who knows how to navigate through the negotiations, time frames and deadlines is critical to your success. At YES-Homes we have a team of professionals with over 20 years experience selling homes in the Tampa Bay area. Contact us to discuss we can successfully guide you through the process of purchasing your Florida home today.  We specialize in Tampa Bay real estate and have knowledgeable connections throughout the state to assist you.  

Our Luxury Agreement is to be committed to helping you meet your real estate goals in a highly professional, mutually respectful process. Our market knowledge, contract expertise, and customer service processes are guaranteed to make you a winner in the home buying process. Each step along the journey will be discreet, clear and simplified with your goals as our priority. We will take the confusion out of the journey and ensure you make the move to your new dream home. This is the luxury real estate service you deserve and will want to tell your family and friends about!