Buying a House in Florida

A Guide on How to Buy a House or Real Estate in the Sunshine State

Angie Inzerillo - Blue Sun Realty Broker

As a professional real estate agent and broker who has worked in the Florida real estate industry for 10+ years, I’ve helped hundreds of people buy and sell homes throughout the Sunshine State. Given the fantastic economic growth of our state coupled with a pretty low inventory of available homes in the area, there is a lot of competition and desire for home-ownership throughout Hillsborough and Polk counties.

And even though there is a wealth of information available online, buying a home in the Tampa market can be a little unlike other markets and there are some key things you want to be aware of and have ready if you’re looking to purchase that dream home.

So – for this article I wanted to share some real-world and knowledge advice for home buyers looking to purchase their home, or any real estate property for that matter, in the Tampa area of Florida.

This guide on how to buy a house has been compiled to help you make sense of the home buying process, primarily for Florida – but should also work for most other markets across the United States.

My goal here is to help you make informed decisions that will simplify every step of the process and help you get value from your home purchase. For simplicity, I’ve organized this home-buying guide into sections that typically represent the process of purchasing real estate from end-to-end.

Steps to Buying a House in Florida

  • Search for Homes & "Zillow Florida"
  • Determine Price Range & Get Pre-Approved
  • Get a GREAT Real Estate Agent
  • Find Your 3 "Dream Homes"
  • Submit Written Purchase Offers
  • Negotiate the Contract & Deal
  • Navigate the Closing Process
  • Close on Your Home
How To Buy A House in Tampa, Florida

1. Search for Homes and "Zillow Florida"

Unlike other guides, one of my first recommendations to potential home buyers is to actually do a little window shopping first! I don’t recommend running out and finding a Realtor to work with out of the gate – primarily because you’ll want to have an idea of the type of home and type of area you’ll want live in.

Sure – you could contact and agent blind and let them choose for you. But, as a professional Realtor, I’ll tell you that the experience is MUCH better for my clients when they have narrowed down the types of Florida communities and homes that they like (and equally don’t like).

With that type of information, I’m in a better position to identify great deals and other similar neighborhoods that may have gone overlooked.

To get started with this phase, I recommend doing a simple Google search for something like “Zillow Florida”… or “Zillow – the town you want to live in… i.e., “Zillow Plant City”.

I teach my buyers this little trick because it usually will show other competing home listing sites and web pages (such as Blue Sun Realty) that may have properties on it that are not necessarily out on Zillow yet. If you opted to simply go straight to Zillow – you’d never know!

In short – it pays to know what’s involved before going too far into the process. Start by going through real estate listings online as well as scouring the area Tampa Bay area for open houses in your ideal neighborhoods.

Tampa Property Management Team - Blue Sun Realty

Popular Tampa communities and areas for great real estate:

if you are looking for specific types of real estate – for instance homes with land, Luxury homes or beach houses in Tampa, you might also search these links as well:

Popular property types throughout Tampa Bay:

As you search for homes and real estate, make a list and of properties that appeal to you so you can follow their progress on the market. If you use our website at BlueSunRealty.com, you can create a free account and save your homes and searches in your profile and then automatically receive updates on their status.

In addition, by setting up an account on BlueSunRealty.com, you’ll also get access to homes and real estate properties before they hit Zillow and that are not yet available on the market. This is because we work with many property investors and , when they decide to sell these house, we post them as “coming soon” properties while we are getting the house cleaned, updated and staged for them. It’s an excellent opportunity to find deals before they hit the market.

By simply following little details such as how long they’ve been on the market or changes in their asking prices, you’ll be able to get an idea of what the market actually looks like in your preferred neighborhood. 

3. Determine Your Price Range & Get Pre-Approved

Buying a home is both an emotional and financial decision.

It’s, however, necessary to determine how much you can afford before you get emotionally attached to any property. This is especially necessary for most buyers who would need mortgage loans when buying a house in Florida.

When it comes to deciding your budget and affordability, there are two important financial tips to buying a house in Florida, and elsewhere;

* If you’re putting down 20%, it’s best to find properties that cost no more than three to five times your annual household income

* Also, you should endeavor to make sure your monthly housing costs, taxes, HOA fees, and insurance costs inclusive, do not exceed 25% of your monthly income.

We are now at the point where you have to get serious with your home shopping. 

But before you start looking around for the best Florida homes for sale, it’s important that you have a clear picture of exactly how much you have to spend on this. 

This is why getting prequalified and preapproved for a mortgage loan comes in as the third step in this guide on how to buy a house in Florida.

Although these tips help in most cases, there is no one-size-fits-all formula for every single financial situation. This is one of the reasons why you may need to work with experts that can range from your insurance company to your real estate agent in estimating how much you may be able to afford.

Mortgage prices across the country have dipped lower than analysts initially predicted for this year. While it’s a great time to make your move to buy a house, getting prequalified and then preapproved will give you a big advantage in the home-buying process, going forward. 

Some of these advantages include;

* Having a clear idea of what you can afford

* Making sellers more receptive to your offers, and

* Staying competitive with other prospective buyers

 

Both prequalification and preapproval are clearly different from each other. However, all you’ll need for either of these is a critical examination of your debts, income, assets, and financial history by your lender. 

4. Buying a home with a real estate agent

We can’t stress this enough but working with a local realtor is one of the most important tips for buying a home in Florida. There is a great value that comes with hiring the right real estate agent to help with your home purchase, regardless of your experience in the market.

But you can’t get away with working with just any realtor. You need someone with local knowledge of the market so you can make market-informed decisions.