1. FOCUS ON THE FINANCES
Take the time upfront to do some financial planning to ensure that you have a good handle on what you budget (all inclusive) is. In Florida, you have to consider costs that may be tied HOAs, Condo Fees, CDDs, Special Insurances in addition to the normal, mortgage, taxes and insurance costs. Once you have an idea of what you can afford, you should start the process to get pre-approved, which will help you when you are ready to make offers since offers that come with pre-approval documentation give the seller more confidence in your offer.
TIP: Start collecting 2 - 3 months worth of bank statements and your most recent income documents in preparation for the financing process. This will save you time digging them up when the mortgage lender asks for them.
2. CHECK ON CREDIT
We sometimes take for granted that our credit reports and ratings are accurate. Now is the time to request a free copy and address any errors. It is also important to be cognizant and disciplined with your credit to build a credit rating of over 760 to help you secure the best mortgage rates and terms. When you initiate the pre-approval process, this will be one of the steps that the lender will review.
3. SET OUT TO SHOP
Be sure to shop around with different lending institutions. Mortgages are a competitive product and you want to make sure you have talked to different lenders before you lock in with one. Include a wide variety of mortgage providers such as small local banks, credit unions, a mortgage broker, an online lender and a big lender such as Bank of America or Wells Fargo. If you need recommendations, feel free to let me know and I am happy to share some contacts that I have worked with in prior real estate transactions. Make sure you choose the right mortgage for your situation–they aren’t a one size fits all and will be unique to your circumstances and financial goals.
4. PICK YOUR PLACE
While time is on your side, use that to your advantage to learn about the different communities and areas to help you shortlist a couple that would be ideal for you when you are ready to buy. Learn about the community and make sure to visit during the day (and at night) to learn what’s really going on there. Talk to a real estate professional to get the scoop on the area. You may even have the opportunity to talk to others that live in that community to get their insights on the good, the bad and the ugly.
TIP: Get started with your neighbourhood research by browsing our neighbourhood section of the webpage.
5. THOROUGHLY REVIEW
Combing through pages and pages of legalese is not the most fulfilling thing to do. In face, it is dull, boring and sometimes dreadful. But, it is so important to review all the documents in detail before you sign anything. You’ll be potentially spending the next 10 to 30 years of your life living with what you signed so make sure everything makes sense now. Be thorough, and ask questions about anything that you aren't sure of or don't understand.
6. KEEP CONNECTED
There are a lot of things to keep track of during a real estate purchase. If you have a good realtor, she/he should help you stay on track with key deliverables. At the same time, you need to make sure that you are taking the necessary steps to complete required actions such as deposit deadlines, contingency requirements, etc. There are many moving parts throughout a real estate transaction and in order to have the best experience, it helps to stay on top of everything.
7. EXPECT TO INSPECT
The decision to pursue or wave an inspection is the buyers. However, I strongly recommend always getting at least the basic home inspection. A few hundred dollars for a good home inspector can end up saving you future money and also help to ensure that you avoid a potential money pit. Be informed about what you are preparing to purchase.
8. GET GUIDANCE
As capable as you may be, it is always best to involve those that this is their primary focus as it will can save you time, money and headaches down the road. Working with the right team is critical and a strong real estate agent can connect you to the right network of curated professionals they know, love and trust.
9. PICK YOUR PERFECT ONE
Start to familiarize yourself with the homes on the market by having a real estate agent set up an automated search for you to explore the homes on the market. Doing this in advance helps you learn about the real estate landscape. Make note of the homes you love and then spend a few hours on the weekend having fun visiting the open house tours for each.
TIP: This website (www.gettoSWFL.com) has a direct connect to the area Listing system where realtors post their listings. This provides you with the assurance that you are seeing the latest and greatest listings ahead of Zillow, Trulia and other syndicated systems that pick them up down the line. This site is refreshed every 15 minutes.
10. KEEP FOCUS
Keep focused on your end-goal and the parameters you established at the onset. Take the time to think things through before you impulsively make that leap towards the dream home you “love". There are many things to take into account beyond “that loving feeling” and it’s important that you set realistic limits on yourself to avoid having a dream turn into a nightmare. A real estate agent can keep you grounded and moving towards your goals.
BONUS: The process of buying a new home can get messy, frustrating and stressful at times, remember to take time to yourself and try to avoid allowing the process to consume you. Don't hesitate to lean on your agent to relieve or avoid some of the stress. We always joke with our clients that "the therapy comes free." We've worked with many home buyers and you'd be surprised how many times we see similar issues come up.
NAPLES REAL ESTATE BLOG
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