After exploring the cost of living in Florida and researching the best cities to live in, you’re ready to consider buying a home. Congrats! Buying a home is a big step. With this guide, we’ll help you understand how to buy a house in Florida and what to look out for along the way.
Step 1. Set a budget
The first step to learning how to buy a house in Florida is determining how much house you can afford. To do this, you’ll want to gather all of your financial information. Things like how much you spend every month, how much you make, and how much debt you have. If you really want to be on top of your game, it could help you to get a pre-approval letter.
A pre-approval letter can be obtained without having to run a hard credit check—that means, a lender will take a soft look at your credit but it won’t affect your overall credit score. With a pre-approval letter, you’ll have more negotiation power and you’ll also know more precisely just how much you can afford to spend on a home.
Step 2. Find a realtor
Although you can browse homes online or go to open houses where you might get connected to a real estate agent, it’s best to focus on finding the right agent first. It’s important to have an agent you can trust because they’ll be helping you navigate some of the trickier parts of how to buy a home in Florida.
A realtor can also help with narrowing down the best area to live in based on your wish list and budget, and they typically have first access to new homes on the market.
Step 3. Make an offer
Once you’ve found the home of your dreams and you’re ready to make an offer, there are a few more things about how to buy a home in Florida, specifically, that you might want to consider.
In Florida, sellers are required to disclose any issues or material defects that are not immediately obvious to a buyer. You’ll want this disclosure before you make your offer because it might affect how much you want to invest.
Dealing with Homeowners Associations (HOA)
If you’re buying a condo or home that’s managed by an HOA, you’ll want to:
- Know monthly association dues and assessments owed for the unit
- Get copies of the association’s Declaration of Condominium, Articles of Incorporation, Bylaws, and Rules of the Association
- Acquire the most recent year-end Financial Information as required by the state
In your offer, you’ll have to determine how much earnest money you’re willing to put down. Earnest money is essentially a deposit that will get paid to the seller after an offer is accepted. Since a home becomes unlisted after an accepted offer, this money helps assure the seller that you are serious about buying the home.
Your offer will also spell out how long you have for your inspections period. During this time, you’ll have the opportunity to conduct a home inspection and assess whether there are any serious issues. This period is important because it’s your last chance to walk away and still get all of your earnest money back. You may also decide to alter your offer at this time or ask the seller to make certain repairs.
Step 4. Close on your home
If your offer is accepted, you’ll run through all of the steps outlined in your offer contract. Your real estate agent should be with you along the way to help you navigate anything you don’t understand. On closing day, you’ll pay your down payment and any other closing costs. In the end, you’ll walk away with keys and become an official homeowner.
Learning how to buy a home in Florida isn’t difficult—you’ll have plenty of help along the way. And though the home buying process can become a little intense at times, becoming a homeowner can be a very proud moment. Still not sure if you’re ready? Here are a few more things to consider before buying a home.
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