Learn About Buying A House in Florida
How Do I Buy a House?
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!
1.See 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 Sandy Hartmann & Associates, 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!
NEWLY Remodeled, 3 bed 2 bath, 1892sf, PLUS BONUS detached 1 bed inlaw/rental with alley access. This rental will pay 1/2 your mortgage!!!! All New.....Roof on the main house, low-e, argon gas insulated Windows, solid wood kitchen Cabinets with Granite Countertops, (inlaw also), all Flooring, S
You'll love this welcoming and radiant 4 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage, home with an open concept floor plan. Featuring new and high end finishes including new cabinets, granite countertops, stainless stel appliances, tile flooring and much more. This well-loved home is on a sought-after central locale.
Crisp Manor pool home! Light, bright and spacious floorplan with terrazzo floors throughout and open concept from every room w/views of the backyard. Fenced backyard with an oversized swimming pool. Minutes to "Crisp Park" which offers a public boat ramp and blocks from NE Shopping center and only 2
Stunning, meticulously maintained, LIKE NEW bungalow home in North Saint Petersburg! This home was completely remodeled from floor boards to shingles less than 2 years ago. With loads of natural light, hand crafted wood work, 2 smokeless fireplaces, and like new features, this home will not last l
Fully remodeled top to bottom this stunning 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom, concrete block home has a new AC, an updated kitchen with solid wood cabinets, new granite counter tops and stainless steel appliances. Great open layout. Step down family room with woodburning fireplace. New waterproof laminate floo
This home would check every item on your "must-have" list. Beautiful 2/1 with a den/office, which you will be proud to call home. Fully renovated, open floor plan in a highly sought after community, at a great price. This house has been completely renovated top to bottom, with all appropriate permit
Classic Mid-Century Block construction home with attached one car garage. Soaring beamed ceilings in the living room greet you upon entry. Low maintenance tile floors throughout the home make for easy living. The Florida room is perfect for watching T.V or just hanging out. The kitchen has been
This is a move in ready updated 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath single family home located in prestige Belleair. You enter this beautiful updated home with ceramic tile - looks like travertine, 2 spacious living areas, dining room and updated kitchen and baths. The bedrooms are spacious and the large main ba
LIGHT, BRIGHT, UPDATED, CHARMING Rutenberg style, and a perfect location! This SOLID BLOCK mid century beauty with pretty landscaping boasts diamond polished terrazzo floors, and a great spacious semi open floor plan for easy living. The beautiful galley kitchen opens to living room and dining room
No expense was spared in this Absolutely Gorgeous, FULLY Renovated St Petersburg home. The curb appeal will catch your eye first as you near this beautiful home, with fresh new paint, a new roof, new landscaping, and georgous wood trim/accents. Enjoy the beautiful Floridian days & nights from the fr
Cute as a button and neat as a pin. This is the home you have always dreamed of; complete with the picket fence. Everything is new here and nothing has been left untouched. Attention to detail is evident throughout starting with the charming exterior showcasing lush landscaping and a pleasing color
GORGEOUS NORTHEAST PARK HOME! Move-in ready!!!Renovated 2 BR, 1 bath block home. Conveniently located near Crisp Park w/public boat ramp and playground. Close to 4th St. shopping and dining. Just a short drive to downtown St. Pete restaurants, museums and night life. New kitchen w/shaker-style
Must see 4 Bed 2 Bath House. This home sits on a CORNER lot with beautiful mature landscaping, an inviting entrance, long driveway, fenced backyard with covered deck, and is a very short walk to the neighborhood park and pond. Home interior features a large foyer area, spacious tiled Living area w
Highly Sought Holiday Park / Sheryl Manor Neighborhood. This 3 Bedroom 2 Baths, 1 car garage has a perfect, split bedroom floor plan with a formal living & dining room, plus a large family room overlooking a spacious, tropical backyard. An in-ground Pool and a Covered Party / Patio offers a place to
Beautiful 3/2 home close to beautiful St Pete beaches and Downtown St Petersburg area. Home has a unique master suite that is used as in law quarter but can easily be converted back into the Master suite. Beautiful wooden cabinetry and granite countertops, lots of counter space and high bar for eati
This gorgeously remodeled house is priced to sell. Featuring new laminate wood floors, brand new kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, updated bathrooms, new interior and exterior paint, inside laundry, a formal dining room and open layout perfect for entertainment, the ow
It's all about: Location, Location, Location!! This neighborhood is a hidden gem located just a block from the intercoastal waterway, walking distance to Abercombie park, Pinellas Trail, Target and other large shopping centers and restaurants in the Tyrone area. This 4 bedroom 2 bath has 1,642 squ
Rare find! This is your chance to own a beautifully renovated spanish style home with a fireplace in the living room, located on a lovely quiet residential neighborhood. This home offers bright airy rooms, charming renovated kitchen with granite counters, arches throughout. Detached garage with laun
BEAUTIFUL newly remodeled family home! Everything is brand new! You will fall in love with the spacious open floor plan. Upon walking in there is a super cute dining area leading to the living room. With all the windows you'll have plenty of natural light to enjoy in your cozy living area. The kitch
This 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom/ 2 car garage +Huge BONUS ROOM in desirable Pinebrook Estates is a MUST SEE! This home is situated on a CORNER LOT and has an EXTRA PARKING PAD with a DOUBLE GATE that is perfect for a BOAT OR RV. This home is very CLEAN, LOVED, and WELL-MAINTAINED. There are so many ext
Hurry to see this charming move-in ready, 3 bedroom 1 bath home. Surrounding this home are beautiful oak trees and landscaping along with a fully fenced back/side yard. Once inside you have a nice entryway that leads you in to the open floorplan perfect for entertaining. The kitchen opens up to the
Are you ready to entertain....This will be the home for you... Enjoy your 2 bedroom 2 bath home with new carpet in bedrooms and beautiful laminate flooring throughout! Plenty of living space for indoor entertaining with large living room and family room, along with walk out to your beautiful in grou
No flood zone certificate!! This home has tile throughout, AC 2 years old, all windows are new, 2 large glassed french doors leading to outdoor spaces were installed in the passed 2 years. Over 15k of windows and doors installed in the past 2 years. Outside gazebo for sitting and bbq. Large concrete
Move in ready home in desirable Euclid Manor section of northeast St. Petersburg. This home features 3 bedrooms, 2 full baths and alley access with a double rolling gate! Kitchen has beautiful real wood cabinets, breakfast bar and French doors enter to the side yard with covered brick walkway! There
Indoor/outdoor living is epitomized in this lusciously landscaped stilt home in the friendly Bayou Shores neighborhood, located just 2 mi. south of downtown St. Pete. With 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a bonus sunroom to use as a home office or den, the floor plan allows for a variety of uses without
WELCOME HOME! You will want to see this super cute 3 bedroom POOL HOME right NOW! Centrally located and move-in ready! BRAND NEW ROOF (2019), BRAND NEW KITCHEN, BRAND NEW GE STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES (SMART GAS STOVE WITH WIFI!), BRAND NEW PAINT and BRAND NEW FLOORING (UPSTAIRS)! Want more? OK! How
Southside Charm on this tree lined street. Well established family neighborhood. Home with some updates. Fabulous center kitchen open to the dining room, living room and family room. Great for entertaining. Split bedrooms. Tile floors in main living areas, oak cabinets in kitchen. Large screened lan
Solidly-built well-maintained block home located in the sought after neighborhood of Shore Acres. Owned by the same family for many years. New mini-split AC system recently installed. Nice large lot with fenced backyard and storage shed. Spacious garage and workbench, ideal for the tinkerer. In
- Mike Miller 4/28/17
- Diep Phan & Son Duong 5/27/17
- Cheryl Wollin 5/24/17
- Jackie & Dave Haley 8/1/16
- Jeffrey & Denise Anderson 6/26/17
- Merle Impson 7/26/17
- Ellen Harrison 7/26/16
- Allison Thomson 5/3/17
- Paul Guilbaud 7/5/17
- Kristen Parks 8/25/16
- Wes Garrett 8/2/17
- Judi Kiefer 5/27/17
- Mary Kay Jackson 6/21/17
- Tom & Julie Combs 5/1/17
- Susan Brown 6/15/17