Considering buying a home in Florida? Even if this isn’t your first home purchase, if it is your first home purchase in Florida, there are some things you need to know. While it is always important to rely on the trusted advice of a realtor, particularly when purchasing a home in Florida, the guidance of a real estate professional is invaluable.
The fact is that buying a home in Florida is unique to anywhere else. A real estate professional can help you navigate the complexities of buying a home in Florida, like the Florida homestead exemption, hurricane insurance, flood zones, and home inspections. So you can probably guess what step one is in our guide to buying a home in Florida:
1. Engage a Florida Realtor
With all of the new technology, social media platforms, and websites dedicated to real estate, it can be easy to convince yourself that you understand enough about the process to handle house hunting on your own. Keep in mind, however, that real estate agents are experts in the field – and of the local real estate market – and can provide knowledge and resources that you likely do not have access to otherwise.
In addition, a real estate transaction has many different parts, requiring the work of various professionals to get to a successful closing. Oftentimes a real estate agent has built connections with trusted partners that they can recommend to their clients.
2. Learn About Home Features Unique to Florida
When in Rome, right? Particularly if this is the first home you are purchasing in Florida, you will need to get up to speed on some features that are commonly found in Florida homes and determine where they fall on your must-have list. These include a swimming pool, lanai (that’s a covered outdoor patio or porch for those of us not from Florida), and windows with UV ray protection.
3. Understand the Additional Insurance You May Need
Among the many reasons you should engage with a professional real estate agent is that they can help you navigate the additional insurance necessary should you purchase a home in Florida that is in a flood zone. They can also help you to determine if you need wind mitigation insurance to protect your home from severe wind damage and flooding that is a direct cause of a hurricane wind event.
4. Find Your New Home
It’s time to start your home search and, oftentimes in Florida, time is of the essence. Your realtor will use the Multiple Listings Service to identify homes that fit your wants and needs and you can supplement the search with online house hunting. But act fast if you find a home that you want to buy because it may not be there by tomorrow!
You can rest assured that buying a home in Florida is typically a good investment. There is always demand for homes in Florida, as many people choose to move and retire to Florida because of:
- No state income tax
- Low cost of living
- Warmer temperatures and no snow
- Home prices in Florida that hold their value more than the national average
Of course, you will want to heed the advice of your realtor on the area in which you are looking to buy a home in Florida, how the home is priced, and if it is a good fit for you. House hunting will also give you a good idea of what is realistic for your budget, and if you need to reconsider what you are looking for or what you are able to afford.
5. Obtain a Mortgage Pre-Approval
Once you have picked your ideal home and made an offer, the last thing you want to do is spend weeks going through the approval process. Being pre-approved can take a big load off your plate and help you rest easy when you are ready to buy. A mortgage pre-approval can also help you confirm your budget and what you are realistically able to afford. And, finally, a pre-approval makes you a much more attractive buyer, as being pre-approved signals to a seller that you are serious about your bid and you are ready to act now.
6. Make an Offer
Once you have found a home, it is time to make an offer. Of course, as we have mentioned, having a real estate professional is key at this stage of buying a home in Florida! Through the Seller’s Disclosure, the current homeowner will reveal and explain defects and conditions of the home they’re selling (or events that happened on the property) that prospective buyers may find unfavorable. You’ll also want to make sure you understand if there are any special conditions for the property you are considering purchasing, like is it in a conservation area, are there HOA fees, or are there limitations on how the property can be used?
7. Get in Contract
Once your offer has been accepted, you will sign a purchase agreement and be one step closer to owning your Florida property…but there is still some work to be done. You may be asked to put up earnest money to demonstrate you are serious about the purchase, and there will likely be multiple inspections on the property to ensure you know exactly what you are getting in the property before you finalize the transaction. Again, your real estate agent will walk you through this process and will serve as an invaluable resource in determining what is best for you when it comes to purchasing a home in Florida.
8. Prepare to Close On Your New Home
Buying a home can be equal parts exciting and stressful, so when the time comes to close on your new home in Florida you want the process to be smooth, without any last minute delays. Your real estate agent will guide you to a successful closing to ensure that at the end of the day you are a happy new homeowner.
Central to the successful closing of your transaction is the closing agent who is a neutral third-party person, oftentimes a title officer, an escrow company officer, or an attorney. You and the seller likely agreed on who the closing agent would be as part of the original offer on the home. In addition to the closing agent, you may also have your real estate agent or an attorney present.
Much of the legal paperwork will be prepared in advance by the real estate agent, lender, and title officer, but there are still a few items that you are responsible for bringing to closing:
- Photo ID: Your signature will need to be notarized multiple times throughout the closing process, so you must have a valid, state-issued photo identification with you.
- Money: You are responsible for having the downpayment and closing costs available at the time of closing.
- Homeowners Insurance: If you will be purchasing your new home with a loan, the lender will require you to furnish a certificate of homeowner insurance for the home. Your lender also may require wind, flood, or earthquake insurance, too, depending on where your home is situated.
9. Celebrate the Purchase of Your New Home
Buying a home is often the single largest investment that you will make, so once the paperwork is complete and the keys are handed over, be sure to celebrate!
Contact Venture Title Services today to help you prepare to close on the purchase of your home in Florida.