Buying a Home in Florida

Buying a Home in Florida

Everyone asks themselves this question at least once in their lives…we call those people 1st time home buyers! To make buying a home feel a little less intimidating, we’ve broken down the process into several clear steps. See below, and don’t forget, we’re here via phone, email and text to answer all your home buying questions!


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    1.Talk with a Lender- Find Out What Your Credit Score is and talk to a lender (it’s free!) to find out what you can qualify for with your income. This quick, usually 15-20 minute chat, will tell you how much of a mortgage you can get and if you need to work on your credit score to qualify.

    2.Save, Save, Save- Save money for a down payment! Another good reason to talk to a lender first. Once you find out how much you can qualify for, your lender can tell you what kinds of loan programs are out there to meet your needs. FHA loans will let you put down as little as 3% as a down payment when you buy a home. Convention loans usually (but not always) require 20% down. So for example, a $200,000 home with 20% down means you’d need $40,000 as a down payment in addition to your loan and closing costs to get that house. For FHA, if you were only required to put down 3%, that would be just $6,000, plus closing costs in addition to your loan.

    3.Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage- Once you’ve completed the above 2 steps, go back to your lender and get a loan pre-approval letter. You’ll need it to shop for homes and submit offers.

    4.Find a Top Real Estate Agent- Now that you have your loan stuff all figured out, find a great Realtor! (We can help with that!). Tell your Realtor what you’re pre-qualified for and meet with them in person to go over neighborhoods and home styles you prefer. At The Sandy Hartmann Group, we set up a search with you that alerts you via email every time a new home listing comes onto the MLS. You’ll always know when homes for sale hit the market that match your home search.

    5.Start Searching for Homes- When you see homes you like in your price range, contact your real estate agent to set up appointments as soon as you can. Good homes go fast and home inventory is low in places like Pinellas County and Hillsborough County. You can also drive around on weekends to open houses to get a better idea of which neighborhoods you like. Our website conveniently has a search option to see properties offering open houses, price reductions and more. You can also do a map search and look up home value trends on our City Pages (See the bottom of our homepage for this).

    6.Write an Offer- Found the right home? Once you know which home you want, you and your Realtor need to write an offer. If the home hasn’t been on the market long, it needs to be a competitive offer to motivate the seller to accept yours over any others. This is also where you need your loan pre-approval letter. Make sure it’s submitted with your offer so the sellers know you’re approved for a loan and a ‘real’ buyer. If the letter is dated more than 1 month old, ask your lender for an updated one if nothing has changed in your employment , savings and debts. If your offer is accepted by the sellers, you’ll have to give a deposit check to your agent as well. This goes towards your closing costs and down payment and is refundable until certain periods in the contract if things go wrong (see below).

    7.Schedule Home Inspections- Once your offer is accepted, you’ll have a specific amount of time to inspect the home (this amount of time is negotiated in the contract when you write it up with your real estate agent). Make sure you find a reputable inspector that will thoroughly inspect the home- you’ll want them to inspect all major components, including but not limited to the roof, plumbing, electrical, A/C and Heat system, pool (if there is one), windows & more. If you’re buying a waterfront home, you’ll also want to hire a seawall inspector as well. Review the inspection results thoroughly with your real estate agent.

    8.Negotiate Repairs- If anything is amiss in the home you’re buying, based on the home inspection results, you’ll want to negotiate any home repairs to be done. As long as this is done during your inspection period, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate. If negotiations don’t go the way you want, you may still get back your deposit and cancel the contract during this time. Ideally everyone will be able to agree on requested repairs (this is negotiated by the agents for the buyer and seller). Be flexible and try not to ask for too many minor ‘cosmetic’ items. Stick to major items that could affect the insurability, safety, or value of the home (Roof, A/C, Heating, Windows, Plumbing, Electrical, etc).

    9.Loan Approval- Once you sign a contract, and schedule inspections, your lender will begin to ask you for payroll and tax documents pertaining to your income. It is important to get this information to your lender as soon as possible. They’ll want to go over all your financial debt and review your creditworthiness. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT make any large purchases, buy a car, change jobs, or take out ANY other loans or credit cards until AFTER your closing. Your lender will check your finances, bank statements and employment status up until the day before closing. Any changes in your financial status could result in your loan being denied at the last minute.

    10.Final Walk-Thru- This generally happens the day of closing or sometimes the day before closing. This is when you walk thru the home you’re purchasing (with your Realtor, always) to make sure the sellers have 1) cleaned out all their belongings and not left piles of old furniture, trash, etc. behind 2) maintained the home properly until closing (it should be in the same shape as when you 1st saw the home 3) completed any requested repairs that were agreed on. If anything is not as agreed on or if the home is no longer in the shape it was sold in, you need to fill out a sheet called a ‘Final Walk Thru Form’ and take it to closing with you. Any changes in the home’s condition or repairs that were not made properly will have to be re-negotiated with all parties.

    11.Closing Day!- When the big day gets close, you’ll want to contact the Title Company that’s handling the closing (they prepare the settlement statement that goes over all your charges, fees, and loan amounts. They also issue clear title on the home and prepare the deed among other ‘paperwork’ related items that facilitate the sale). The title company will tell you exactly how much money to wire to them for closing, which needs to be done prior to getting to the closing table. At your actual scheduled closing, you’ll go over all the loan docs, title information & more with your settlement agent and real estate agent. Once you sign and the funds are at the title company from your lender, the keys are yours!

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$300,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 926 Sqr Feet
Well maintained Gulfport concrete block construction with attached carport. Home was freshly painted inside and out and the terrazzo floors were recently polished and "shine bright like a diamond". Large living room, open eat-in kitchen and light filled den. 2 Good sized bedrooms share hall bath wit
$299,990, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,097 Sqr Feet
Charming home recently remodeled with new windows, vinyl siding, new front porch, updated kitchen, laminate flooring, wood burining fireplace, tankless electric water heater, and both bathrooms completely updated. The great room has a wood burning brick fireplace as a focal point with shelving on b
$299,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,008 Sqr Feet
Welcome Home! Look no further - this updated and affordable 2 bedroom, 1 1/2 bath single family home is move-in ready. Enter in the home and you'll be greeted by a living room with terrazzo floors, dining room and walk through kitchen. The kitchen cabinetry features all wood cabinets, granite cou
$295,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 624 Sqr Feet
This two bedroom, one bathroom home is located in the Grand Central subdivision. Perfect for first time homebuyers or investors. Both bedrooms are on the right as you walk through the front door with the kitchen nestled in the back. The backyard has so much potential with a wide access area on the
$290,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 750 Sqr Feet
Lovely home in Largo! Centrally located with quick access to the airports. Near banks, shopping, and plenty of restaurants to choose from. This lovingly maintained home gives a warm and cozy feeling. You feel welcomed upon entering. The front porch is screened in with a hanging swing and beauti
$280,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,195 Sqr Feet
Beautiful 2 bedroom 1 bath. Block home with new roof in 2021. Tile throughout the home! Interior and Exterior were repainted in 2021. Finished addition adds almost 300 more square feet. Large Fenced in yard with shed for additional storage. Less than 15 minutes to the beach!
$245,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 729 Sqr Feet
Investors! This 2 bedrooms/1 bathroom/1 carport + bonus room home conveniently located in a non-flood zone and centrally located to I-275, shops, parks, and a short ride to downtown Saint Pete. Remodeled kitchen with stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, and an island. The living room has
$239,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,120 Sqr Feet
NEW LISTING! Cute bungalow style home located in highly sought-after Pinellas County location near to beaches and town. NEW Roof 2021, NEW 2021 Windows, NEW 2021 Bathroom, NEW 2021 Appliances, NEW 2021 A/C, NEW 2021 Flooring. Light, bright, and cheery home with eat-in kitchen, inside laundry, and su
$205,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 794 Sqr Feet
investor Special. Nice neighborhood. Two bedroom, One bath home with Detached garage. House is currently occupied by tenants. Call for appointment, 24 hour notice. PLEASE DO NOT DISTURB THE TENANTS, THANK YOU. MEASUREMENTS ARE APPROXIMATE, BUYER WILL NEED TO VERIFY. This property is sold as is.
$150,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 875 Sqr Feet
This is the ULTIMATE fixer upper / handyman house! It needs everything ... Definitely not for the faint of heart. Yard is massively overgrown, and house is in deplorable condition. Seller has owned property for over 50 years and never discarded anything. House is full of stuff - mostly of little or
$129,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 572 Sqr Feet
It's small but the location sure is good. A short walk to all the cool stuff on Central Ave. Park across the street. Needs work but updates were done in 2015 that include mechanicals (electric, plumbing, HVAC), windows, kitchen, bath, roof. Tented in 2016. Pretty cheap for St Pete! A few caveats
$125,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 968 Sqr Feet
Auction Property. Awesome opportunity to own a nice two (2) bedroom One (1) bathroom home in Childs Park. So many fantastic features including; Bright shaker-style cabinets and wonderful tile throughout. The master is roomy and enjoys its own ensuite bathroom. The remaining bedroom is reasonably siz