Step 1   Do your research early: read websites, newspapers, and magazines that have real estate listings. Make notes of the absolutely “must-haves” and prioritize the “like to have”. Note the prices of homes that you are particularly interested in and how long they are on the market. Note price changes of those that are on the market for more than a month. All this will help you know what you can afford and what the market trends are.

Step 2    How much can you afford? Now is the time to determine this so you remain realistic and aren’t disappointed later. Generally, look for homes that are no more than 3 to 5 times your income depending on your credit history and rating and how much cash you have to invest in your home. Use an online affordability calendar to help determine what you can afford.

Step 3    Get pre-qualified for credit and your mortgage. Ask your real estate agent for lender recommendations. Beware of online and on television lenders who don’t know your market. Getting pre-qualified is easy and will take only 15 or 20 minutes. Now you will know which homes you can afford, and this will make the search process much more realistic and save a lot of time and disappointment later. Also, most sellers require a pre-qualification letter to accompany your offer. Later you can get pre-approved which will include a detailed analysis of your finances.

Step 4    Find the right real estate agent. Ask friends for referrals or interview several.  You will be partners in one of your life’s largest financial transactions. Knowledge, personalities, and familiarity with the market you are buying in will be extremely valuable. You are building a team. Your real estate agent will help you with lenders and other vendors (home inspector; surveyor, termite inspectors, title companies, handyman services, etc.) The right real estate agent can be a major asset in the negotiating process and can set up Multiple Listing Service searches using your criteria. This will find the homes in your market that meet your criteria. This is a great way to do your research. Best of all the real estate agent does all this for you with no charge to you. They get paid by the Seller and only if and when there is a closing. If you chose one real estate agent and remain loyal he/she will be a valuable asset throughout the process and after.

Call Dick Woodhull at the Captain’s Team at Sun Realty to talk with a Realtor®        941 276 4948

Step 5    Shop for your home and make an offer.  Besides the home itself, check out the neighborhood before and after work hours. How are the homes and yards maintained? What is the traffic situation on the street? How is the neighborhood? Have your Realtor® do an analysis of similar home sales in the neighborhood. This will help you be comfortable with your offer and how it is presented. Your Realtor® will have some good negotiating ideas for you. Many times those who make their offer a low ball end up paying more for the house than if they made a “reasonable” offer the first time. Once you agree on price and terms and have signed a contract, there will be 30 to 60 days till closing. This will depend upon the terms of the contract, the type of mortgage, and the personal needs of the Buyer and Seller.

Step 6     Get a home inspection, strongly advised. It may cost between $350 and $600 depending on the home and inspector. The inspector will look for any structural problems or items that are not working as designed, are in need of repair, or have a short expected life span. Depending upon the contract you have and the type of repairs needed, you may be able to negotiate repairs, a price change, or cancel the contract if you desire. Ask your Realtor® about the different contracts before you make the offer. Your Realtor® should be able to suggest several reliable home inspectors and help you negotiate with the Seller if needed. It is wise to get a wood-destroying organism inspection (termites).

Step 7     Work with a mortgage lender to select your loan. Lenders have a wide variety of loan programs to fit your specific needs. There are some with little or very low down payments, fixed or variable interest rates, and 30 to 15-year payouts. Your situation and future plans will help you choose the right plan.

Step 8     Have the home appraised. Your lender will require this but it is strongly recommended even if you are paying all cash. The appraisal will assure all parties that you are paying a fair market price, or not.

Step 9     Coordinate the paperwork. There is a lot of paperwork involved between you, your lender, the title company who is doing the closing, the Sellers, and your Realtor®. Much of it has certain critical dates. Stay on top of it.

Step 10    Do a walk-through with your Realtor® and close the sale. The walk-through is to ensure that everything is in the same condition as when you made the offer, that any agreed-on repairs have been made, that any items to be transferred with the sale are there (i.e. appliances).

The closing will be done by a title company (95% of Florida closings) or an attorney. The deed, title insurance, and other transfer documents will be signed as well as all your loan documents. It can take some time for your loan to be funded after the signing but is usually completed within an hour. Once the loan is confirmed funded you are (congratulations) the new owner and will receive the keys and may move into your new home.

Adapted from Manatee & Sarasota 2020-2021 Resource and Relocation Guide