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!

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    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 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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$299,900, 4 Beds, 3 Baths, 2,371 Sqr Feet
Welcome to your wonderful new home! The beautiful landscaping escorts you to the front door. Feels like home as soon as you step in the front door! Open floor plan allows you to entertain with ease. Neutral colors make decorating a breeze. Sip on your morning coffee, have a snack or quick meal in th
$280,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,002 Sqr Feet
Beautifully updated 1924 Bungalow with original hardwood floors and multi pane original windows. You do not have to suffer for your Art. Your roof and HVAC is 3 years, appliances 2 and 1 years and exterior & interior paint 2 years. The low maintenance yard with private areas that will surprise yo
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,152 Sqr Feet
New On the Market!!! Mid-Century Modern Pool Party House!!! Highly Desirable Meadow Lawn Neighborhood! Lovingly remodeled keeping some of the features of that era! A series of 8 sliding glass doors open to a beautifully enclosed Crystal Clear Pool, Recently Refinished!! New A/C 2019, New insulated,
$270,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,578 Sqr Feet
Great 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1 car garage, pool home in popular eagle crest! Great bones- 2014 hvac, 2014 roof, newer water heater, newer windows. Already has a nice open floor plan. It could use some visual updates to fit your taste, however the home is completely functional and will be able to be fina
$259,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,056 Sqr Feet
Nicely updated 3 bedroom 2 bath pool home close to Stetson University. Updated kitchen with granite countertops and stainless steel appliance. Open family room with a fireplace and separate dining area. New vinyl flooring through. Brand new HVAC. Roof 2016 and many more updates. You will to be
$249,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,211 Sqr Feet
DON'T WAIT TO SEE this completely updated SOLID BLOCK home on a large fully fenced corner lot on Pinellas Point. NO FLOOD INSURANCE REQUIRED. . With nothing to do but move in. New in 2019 - roof, interior and exterior paint, hurricane impact windows, AC and ducting, NEST thermostat, insulation, ho
$240,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,497 Sqr Feet
This 3 bedroom 2 bath home is centrally located in the Disston Heights neighborhood of St. Pete. This sturdy block home overlooks the fountain of Lake Sheffield, requires no flood insurance and has plenty of space for a growing family. The 2nd and 3rd Bedroom are adjoined by a Jack and Jill bathroom
$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,290 Sqr Feet
Great Location! Located close to 54th Ave North where you can take I-275. This house is 3 bedrooms and 2 baths. There is a back porch that can be nicely decorated for entertaining. The closets are large and there is extra storage in the hallway too. The roof was installed in 2015. There is a circu
$235,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,104 Sqr Feet
Recently updated 3 bedrooms home with a pool and Spa. The roof was done in 2018. There is newer modern flooring in the kitchen, living room and dining area. The kitchen is modern with granite countertops, newer cabinets, and stainless appliances. There is an island for more counter space and the ope
$220,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,026 Sqr Feet
SEMINOLE BEAUTY! This charming 2BR 1BA, all block home has been recently updated with a NEW HVAC SYSTEM, NEW SHINGLE ROOF and NEW VINYL PLANK FLOORING throughout the living room, dining room and kitchen areas! This home features an open and spacious living area with warm colors and natural sunligh
$215,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,233 Sqr Feet
Turn key living at its best with an ideal location just 10 minutes to the beaches! This remodeled 3 bedroom 1 bath home boasts an open floor plan with incredible natural light throughout. The updated kitchen has all new stainless appliances, gorgeous level 5 granite, and counter height breakfast bar
$211,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 580 Sqr Feet
GULFPORT OPPORTUNITY - Check out this adorable investment dream that is currently leased until April 2020. Two bedrooms One bath Bungalow 5 blocks from the famous and entertaining Gulfport Art District. Pronounced maroon-coated front door marries the dark blue picketed fencing, which contrasting per
$210,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 904 Sqr Feet
Charm abounds in this two bedroom home with a screened in outdoor kitchen and half bath overlooking fenced yard that back to an alley with a gate to drive a RV, boat, camper. large storage shed for lawn equipment, back yard also includes some fruit trees. Great curb appeal with a covered front porch
$210,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,040 Sqr Feet
New New New!! If your looking for a home that has been totally renovated with no work for years to come then this is it. This is an amazing home and has everything you would want for this price. Great curb appeal, nice size fenced yard, huge storage/workshop area. As you enter the home you will see
$209,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 954 Sqr Feet
WELCOME HOME! This 2 bedroom 1 bathroom 1 car garage block home is the perfect starter home and is loaded with upgrades! It is situated in Glenwood, a charming neighborhood a stones throw from Northwest Park and JW Cate Recreational Center. Centrally located, this home is only 10 mins from world fam
$203,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,053 Sqr Feet
Location Location!! Walking DISTANCE TO DOWNTOWN ST PETE, Bayfront Hospital, Pier and is just steps from Historic Roser Park. This 3 bedroom 1 bath Historical Florida charmer built in 1925 was restored a few years ago and boasts original hardwood flooring throughout, crown molding, original brick wo
$199,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 808 Sqr Feet
Bungalow charmer... Brand NEW FLOORING throughout along with COMPLETE UPDATED KITCHEN,NEW COUNTERTOPS,UPDATED BATHROOMS,NEW STAINLESS STEEL APPLIANCES,FRESHLY PAINTED INTERIOR AND EXTERIOR. Both bedrooms are sized nicely and master would easily accommodate a king bed, spacious closet. Attached carpo
$189,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 971 Sqr Feet
$185,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 956 Sqr Feet
Great opportunity to own this 3 bedroom, 2 full bathrooms, 1 car garage home in a super great location! Sit outside the front of this home and the view of the park & lake across the street is truly captivating, perfect place for family fun or relaxing & watching the wildlife! Inside the house is so
$175,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,316 Sqr Feet
This picturesque little bungalow is perfectly located in the Greater Woodlawn Subdivision of St Pete. Come check out this little cutie that you can make your own! It features 2 bedrooms & 1 bath, newer roof, & enough room for growth! Renovate this 1920's bungalow to make it the perfect home for you.
$174,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 710 Sqr Feet
Cozy 2BR 1BA home with oversized backyard located in St. Petersburg. This charming home is move in ready! Freshly painted interior with tile in main areas and an updated bathroom. New carpet in bedrooms, with hardwood flooring in bonus room. Updated kitchen cabinets and counter tops. Large fenced in
$174,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 812 Sqr Feet
Pristine, Move in Ready block construction home, built in 1986. Fantastic Location, close to Down Town St Petersburg, Gulf Beaches, Tampa Airport, Shopping and Dining. Brand New Roof, New Kitchen with wood cabinets, Granite Counter tops and Breakfast Bar. New Stainless Appliances include Convecti
$174,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 820 Sqr Feet
Nicely updated starter home in a super location in Kenneth City! Large fenced in backyard for your family pets and entertaining along with a separate storage shed. Roof, AC and windows updated in 2017. Water heater 2015. Modern stainless appliances in an updated granite counter top kitchen. Bathroom
$170,500, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,382 Sqr Feet
Don't miss out on this investment opportunity, this home offers 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, large great room, sizable kitchen, screened patio and situated on a nice lot with mature trees. Home is in need of some TLC and repairs but with some work this could be someone's dream home. Take a look today and se
$149,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 736 Sqr Feet
Do not miss out on this completely renovated home! A perfect starter home, for first time home buyers, or even a vacation or retirement home -- this house is perfect for anyone! The property features new kitchen cabinets and granite counter tops, new laminate flooring throughout, and new paint insid
$139,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 720 Sqr Feet
Excellent opportunity to own this charming 2 bedroom, 1 bath home located in the quiet neighborhood of Pasadena Park. Featuring a cozy living room, sizable bedrooms, bonus room that could be utilized as a 3rd bedroom, recently updated bathroom and a galley style kitchen with stainless steel applianc
$129,777, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 918 Sqr Feet
This is a great opportunity to invest in a rapidly changing area close to downtown. This cute 2 story house is move-in ready with new flooring and paint through out. The downstairs has two bedrooms, living room, dining room, kitchen, bathroom, and a large front room that could easily be converted
$129,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 788 Sqr Feet
Good house for the money close to Belleair (right on the Belleair border line). Could be a 3 bedroom. Good layout with ceramic tile floors. At the end of a dead end street. Large back yard. Good starter or investment home.
$114,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,524 Sqr Feet
Amazing investment opportunity in a great location. 50x125 lot. 4/2 with a detached 1 car garage. Roof was replaced in 2017, A/C in 2014, some electrical updates and new paint in 2017, tile floors throughout. Tenant occupied since 2017, monthly rent is $1,195/month and the lease is good through 10/3
$109,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,067 Sqr Feet
This Gulfport Bungalow needs your finishing touches to be the perfect family home centrally located to Beaches, Shopping, Dining, and Main Roads. Fenced yard with alley access in the rear.