The Florida real estate market—like all real estate markets—has had its ups and downs, but ultimately, Florida homes have staying power. As recently as December 2022, Florida homes had risen in value by nearly seven percent over the last year. If you’re in the market for a new home, read on as experienced real estate agent Babette Bean shares a few expert tips for finding your dream home in the Sunshine State.
Preparing for Purchase
“It’s important to have your financial ducks in a row before you put in an offer,” Bean explains. Not only can this simplify the mortgage process, but it can also allow you to make a more attractive offer—and in a seller’s market, your ability to complete a quick, complication-free closing can be the key to having your offer accepted.
Somethings to consider when assessing your financial readiness to buy a home include:
- Your credit score (ideally 620 or more)
- Your down payment is ideally 20 percent or more.
- Closing costs (generally between two and five percent of the total purchase price)
- Most Florida properties are 100% cash sales and over asking price.
After you know these numbers, you’ll be better able to assess the price range you should use for your home search.
You may also want to seek pre-approval for your mortgage. Many sellers and real estate agents won’t even show you a home unless you’ve been pre-approved in its price range. A pre-approval letter lets others know that you’re likely to be approved for a mortgage in that range.
Research and Target Your Search
Research and choose an area you want to live in, then target that area by going and viewing any available properties which are for sale to see them in person.
Searching for a home is often the most time-consuming part of the purchase process. It can be frustrating to find something wrong with every house you visit, but it’s important not to rush—you don’t want to find yourself feeling hurried into making an offer on a house you’re not in love with.
Choosing a Real Estate Agent
Although you don’t have to have a real estate agent to purchase a Florida home, working with one is always a good idea. The average layperson is ill-equipped to draft an offer, negotiate with lenders, sellers, and other agents, and arrange for inspections, appraisals, and the other reviews you’ll need before you put in an offer.
A few of the factors to consider when selecting a real estate agent include:
- Years of experience
- Online and word-of-mouth reviews
- Negotiating skills and customer market knowledge satisfaction
Don’t be afraid to interview several agents before you decide who you’d like to represent you.
Offer and Acceptance
Once you’ve finally identified your Florida dream home, it’s time to put in an offer. A few tips to keep in mind include:
- Moving fast can be the difference between getting a property and losing a property. In the post-COVID housing market, waiting around to receive an offer could mean you’ll be waiting for a while.
- Second-guess whether you should offer the highest price. By covering things like closing costs and paying to get rid of certain items, you may be able to increase the attractiveness of your offer.
One part of the offer process involves what’s known as “due diligence”—inspections and appraisals that ensure the bank is still willing to lend money for the home and spotlighting any safety concerns. It’s important to use a licensed home inspector to quickly review your roof, HVAC system, plumbing, electrical system, and other major potential future expenses.
A professional appraiser can ensure that you’re not offering a discount on your property or otherwise being taken advantage of. Combining your appraisal report with your inspection report can highlight any issues that need to be addressed before you move into your dream home for good.
Buying a new property in Florida isn’t necessarily any harder than buying a home anywhere else—but the Florida real estate market has some peculiar features, so it’s important to prioritize your needs. By sticking to Babette’s tips and tricks, you’ll be well equipped to find, finance, and purchase your perfect Florida home.
About the Author:
Babette Bean has worked in real estate since 1989. When she was 8 years old, her parents moved from the United States to Valencia, Venezuela, where she spent her formative years, ultimately graduating from Colegio Internacional de Carabobo. Babette has served on numerous Twin Cities boards and executive committees. Babette enjoys spending time with her family, including her children and grandchildren.