Learn About Buying A House in Florida

How Do I Buy a House?

Everyone asks themselves this question at least once in their lives…we call those people 1st time home buyers! To make buying a home feel a little less intimidating, we’ve broken down the process into several clear steps. See below, and don’t forget, we’re here via phone, email and text to answer all your home buying questions!

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    1.See a Lender- Find Out What Your Credit Score is and talk to a lender (it’s free!) to find out what you can qualify for with your income. This quick, usually 15-20 minute chat, will tell you how much of a mortgage you can get and if you need to work on your credit score to qualify.

    2.Save, Save, Save- Save money for a down payment! Another good reason to talk to a lender first. Once you find out how much you can qualify for, your lender can tell you what kinds of loan programs are out there to meet your needs. FHA loans will let you put down as little as 3% as a down payment when you buy a home. Convention loans usually (but not always) require 20% down. So for example, a $200,000 home with 20% down means you’d need $40,000 as a down payment in addition to your loan and closing costs to get that house. For FHA, if you were only required to put down 3%, that would be just $6,000, plus closing costs in addition to your loan.

    3.Get Pre-Approved for a Mortgage- Once you’ve completed the above 2 steps, go back to your lender and get a loan pre-approval letter. You’ll need it to shop for homes and submit offers.

    4.Find a Top Real Estate Agent- Now that you have your loan stuff all figured out, find a great Realtor! (We can help with that!). Tell your Realtor what you’re pre-qualified for and meet with them in person to go over neighborhoods and home styles you prefer. At Sandy Hartmann & Associates, we set up a search with you that alerts you via email every time a new home listing comes onto the MLS. You’ll always know when homes for sale hit the market that match your home search.

    5.Start Searching for Homes- When you see homes you like in your price range, contact your real estate agent to set up appointments as soon as you can. Good homes go fast and home inventory is low in places like Pinellas County and Hillsborough County. You can also drive around on weekends to open houses to get a better idea of which neighborhoods you like. Our website conveniently has a search option to see properties offering open houses, price reductions and more. You can also do a map search and look up home value trends on our City Pages (See the bottom of our homepage for this).

    6.Write an Offer- Found the right home? Once you know which home you want, you and your Realtor need to write an offer. If the home hasn’t been on the market long, it needs to be a competitive offer to motivate the seller to accept yours over any others. This is also where you need your loan pre-approval letter. Make sure it’s submitted with your offer so the sellers know you’re approved for a loan and a ‘real’ buyer. If the letter is dated more than 1 month old, ask your lender for an updated one if nothing has changed in your employment , savings and debts. If your offer is accepted by the sellers, you’ll have to give a deposit check to your agent as well. This goes towards your closing costs and down payment and is refundable until certain periods in the contract if things go wrong (see below).

    7.Schedule Home Inspections- Once your offer is accepted, you’ll have a specific amount of time to inspect the home (this amount of time is negotiated in the contract when you write it up with your real estate agent). Make sure you find a reputable inspector that will thoroughly inspect the home- you’ll want them to inspect all major components, including but not limited to the roof, plumbing, electrical, A/C and Heat system, pool (if there is one), windows & more. If you’re buying a waterfront home, you’ll also want to hire a seawall inspector as well. Review the inspection results thoroughly with your real estate agent.

    8.Negotiate Repairs- If anything is amiss in the home you’re buying, based on the home inspection results, you’ll want to negotiate any home repairs to be done. As long as this is done during your inspection period, you’ll have the opportunity to negotiate. If negotiations don’t go the way you want, you may still get back your deposit and cancel the contract during this time. Ideally everyone will be able to agree on requested repairs (this is negotiated by the agents for the buyer and seller). Be flexible and try not to ask for too many minor ‘cosmetic’ items. Stick to major items that could affect the insurability, safety, or value of the home (Roof, A/C, Heating, Windows, Plumbing, Electrical, etc).

    9.Loan Approval- Once you sign a contract, and schedule inspections, your lender will begin to ask you for payroll and tax documents pertaining to your income. It is important to get this information to your lender as soon as possible. They’ll want to go over all your financial debt and review your creditworthiness. DO NOT, I REPEAT DO NOT make any large purchases, buy a car, change jobs, or take out ANY other loans or credit cards until AFTER your closing. Your lender will check your finances, bank statements and employment status up until the day before closing. Any changes in your financial status could result in your loan being denied at the last minute.

    10.Final Walk-Thru- This generally happens the day of closing or sometimes the day before closing. This is when you walk thru the home you’re purchasing (with your Realtor, always) to make sure the sellers have 1) cleaned out all their belongings and not left piles of old furniture, trash, etc. behind 2) maintained the home properly until closing (it should be in the same shape as when you 1st saw the home 3) completed any requested repairs that were agreed on. If anything is not as agreed on or if the home is no longer in the shape it was sold in, you need to fill out a sheet called a ‘Final Walk Thru Form’ and take it to closing with you. Any changes in the home’s condition or repairs that were not made properly will have to be re-negotiated with all parties.

    11.Closing Day!- When the big day gets close, you’ll want to contact the Title Company that’s handling the closing (they prepare the settlement statement that goes over all your charges, fees, and loan amounts. They also issue clear title on the home and prepare the deed among other ‘paperwork’ related items that facilitate the sale). The title company will tell you exactly how much money to wire to them for closing, which needs to be done prior to getting to the closing table. At your actual scheduled closing, you’ll go over all the loan docs, title information & more with your settlement agent and real estate agent. Once you sign and the funds are at the title company from your lender, the keys are yours!

Search Results

St Petersburg
$299,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,611 Sqr Feet
1925 Built Charmer! Front porch boats Spanish style arches. You'll be impressed upon entry by the large living room featuring a wood burning fireplace. Formal dining room opens to the remodeled kitchen featuring stone counter tops, tall cabinets accented w/crown molding, stainless steel appliances i
St Petersburg
$299,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,614 Sqr Feet
Move-in charming family home! Main home is 3 bedroom and 1 bath with a spacious living area,. Property also boasts a huge garage that has a 1 bedroom 1 bathroom apartment above it with separate electric and water meter. Only minutes away from Downtown St Pete, major beaches, restaurants, shopping
$298,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,860 Sqr Feet
Totally remodeled kitchen & baths . All HGTV colors - Newer carpet - Newer tile - Newer roof 2012 - Newer A/C 2011 (2 units one window in garage) -Detached garage was dry walled with window A/C recently to be a extra bonus room or place for special car or motorcycles or maybe a in-law or office also
St Petersburg
$297,299, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,640 Sqr Feet
Welcome to Shore Acres, a highly sought after community in the heart of St Petersburg. You won't want to pass on this fantastic large lot home with beautiful oaks and mature landscaping. Home offers a new roof and new windows. Gorgeous kitchen with all wood cabinetry, soft close doors, and granite c
$294,500, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,602 Sqr Feet
Welcome home, come and see this elegant property completed with 3 Bdr/2Bath/2 CG! It offers a modern open floor plan concept, with a large Living-Dining-Kitchen combo, finished with a new hand-scraped, engineered oak wood floor. In the heart of the home is located the newly renovated, chef's dream k
St Petersburg
$285,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,505 Sqr Feet
This adorable mid-century bungalow just north of downtown St. Pete is a “must see”. Its charm will be apparent from the minute you walk in! Off the living room is a bonus niche on your right, a den with French doors and wainscoting on your left, and a small office with built-in shelves further
St Petersburg
$270,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,400 Sqr Feet
Welcome Home! This immaculate 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with a den/office is move-in ready! Light and bright with lots of recessed lighting and large newer windows. This home boasts alley access and plenty of room to park your RV or boat. Entertain family and friends in your backyard featuring an i
$249,900, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 2,094 Sqr Feet
This well maintained home has a very flexible floorplan with a full in-law apartment as part of the house. Two kitchens, two laundry areas, and two living spaces make this home attractive for many uses. Home business, teenagers, older family members, use your imagination as to how all of this spac
St Petersburg
$249,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,318 Sqr Feet
Beautifully remodeled from top to bottom...Look no further than this Immaculate move in ready home! This 3/2 split floorplan home is situated on a generous corner lot with fenced in back yard and a one car carport. Stunning Kitchen has quartz counter tops, undermount sink and SS appliances. The f
St Petersburg
$244,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,314 Sqr Feet
This is an amazing opportunity to own this 1314 sqft 2/1 home with additional 450 sqft finished garage apartment with kitchenette and bath. This would be a great in-law or teenager setup. Or use it as a 3/2!! The stunning, renovated kitchen with newer appliances is open to a great dining room, overs
St Petersburg
$240,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,333 Sqr Feet
Are you looking for a great affordable family home? THIS IS IT!!ALMOST 1/4 OF AN ACRE TO ENJOY, Lovingly cared for, this two bedroom two bath house has a wonderful flow. From the entrance, you step into a bright living room - big enough for entertaining family and friends. The open floor plan leads
St Petersburg
$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,377 Sqr Feet
Beautiful and welcoming, the superior craftsmanship is evident from the moment you first walk in the front door. From the arched doorways and beautiful hardwood floors, it only gets better as you make your way through the huge living area, complete with vaulted ceilings and plantation shutters, into
St Petersburg
$238,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,243 Sqr Feet
This is a great opportunity to own a beautiful completely remodeled home in north St. Petersburg. This home features 4 bedrooms and 2 full bathrooms, with a new roof, new impact windows, new doors, new impact garage door, new paint, new flooring, new stainless steel appliances, and much more. The ho
St Petersburg
$234,999, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,100 Sqr Feet
Looking for a remodeled 3 Bedroom home in a great location? You will find it in this adorable home! The island kitchen with wood cabinetry and granite counter tops open to the comfortable family room with sliding doors. New wood plank laminate floors, three spacious bedrooms and a fully renovated ba
St Petersburg
$230,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,340 Sqr Feet
Welcome your family to this perfect home for children and entertainment. Home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, man cave, family room, office, living room dining room combo with eat in space in kitchen. Great one car garage and large parking pad for extra parking. The backyard has a deck for entertaining,
St Petersburg
$229,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,490 Sqr Feet
LARGE corner lot with backyard overlooking Coquina Key Park! (No rear neighbors!) Vinyl fencing. Open concept living, kitchen, dining AND *HUGE BONUS ROOM! Granite countertops. Stainless steel appliances ***2018 ROOF AND 2017 HVAC!!! 2017 entire interior lighting replaced. 2018 carpet in bedrooms an
St Petersburg
$225,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,070 Sqr Feet
Welcome to this meticulously maintained home in the Central Oak Park neighborhood. Gorgeous hardwood floors greet you in the living room and flow through the dining room and bedrooms. The two bedrooms have plenty of natural light. The bonus room is spacious and bright. It would make a great office
St Petersburg
$224,999, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,031 Sqr Feet
This is Home! Welcome to the Jungle Terrace. This well sought after neighborhood has got the most charming three bedroom home for sale. Freshly painted exterior Florida style and the long porch gives it the relaxing atmosphere you yearn for after a hard day. The beautiful home has a split bedroom la
St Petersburg
$223,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 961 Sqr Feet
OCATION LOCATION! MUST SEE! Beautifully updated 2 bed 2 bath home with an enclosed sun room that could function as a 3rd bedroom or office/play room. Walk to JW Rec Center, Northwest pool and Park and only 2 blocks to Northwest Elementary. Your a 5 minute drive to award winning beaches, I275 and Ty
St Petersburg
$219,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,230 Sqr Feet
Charming 2BR/2BA home nestled on a beautifully landscaped corner lot located in a quiet neighborhood close to schools and parks. This home is an excellent starter or retirement home. Featuring a spacious living room/dining room, newly designed galley style kitchen with pass thru windows, 2 nice size
St Petersburg
$219,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,832 Sqr Feet
Partial ROOF replaced a few months ago. New tiles flooring with fresh paint. Entire house fenced with fruit trees in the backyard. Ample parking space. Quite neighborhood. Close to Tyrone Mall and shopping center, freeway and school. Buyer and buyer's agent to verify all infos. MUST SEE! READY TO M
St Petersburg
$215,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,395 Sqr Feet
Welcome home! This move in ready 3 bedroom, 2 bath home is ready for its new owner! As you walk through the front gate you are greeted by lovely outdoor living space perfect for spending the morning reading or an evening with friends. The kitchen will please any chef with a gas stove, hood vent, ple
$214,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,122 Sqr Feet
For sale is a 3/1 that has been newly remodeled from top to bottom. The new circular driveway and curb appeal from the landscaping make this house the envy of the neighborhood. Upon entering the front door you will notice the open concept and abundance of natural light through all of the windows in
St Petersburg
$190,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,379 Sqr Feet
An opportunity to get into desirable Pasadena Estates at an affordable price! This home is a 3 bedroom, 2 full bath, concrete block home with an oversized 1 car garage and a bonus room that could easily be used as an additional bedroom if desired. The home features a stylish kitchen with granite c
St Petersburg
$190,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 865 Sqr Feet
Get ready to hear the word "NEW" over and over! This beautiful 2 Bedroom 1 Bath block home located on a quiet cul-de-sac in St. Pete.has been meticulously transformed by its current owner. NEW EnergyStar ROOF installed Feb. 2019 reflects more of the sun's rays which can lower the roof surface temper
St Petersburg
$189,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,098 Sqr Feet
Remodeled home that is ready for you! This updated 3/2 concrete block home is just minutes from bustling downtown St. Pete and very convenient to great shopping and dining. Enjoy the open floorplan from your remodeled kitchen with granite countertops. Large fenced yard is perfect for pets and inc
St Petersburg
$189,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,020 Sqr Feet
Welcome home!!! Absolutely beautiful updated 2 bedroom 2 bath house located in NE Saint Petersburg! This property features a spacious living room with large windows providing natural light, Perfect kitchen with granite counter tops, Stainless steel appliances, And lots of cabinet space! Huge master
St Petersburg
$189,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,205 Sqr Feet
Short Sale. SHORT SALE - This fantastic 2 Bedroom, 2 Bath, 1 Car Garage home is located in one of St. Pete's sought after neighborhood. The home has hardwood flooring and ceramic tile (No carpet). A bonus room through the French Doors gives you additional living space for a playroom, office or den.
St Petersburg
$189,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 888 Sqr Feet
This Shore Acres home has 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom and 1 car garage, updated windows and an impact resistant garage door! There is beautiful terrazzo flooring throughout and an updated kitchen. The kitchen has stone counter-tops, LED cabinet lighting and newer appliances. The bathroom has also been up
St Petersburg
$185,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,002 Sqr Feet
Updated, Modern, Cozy. Comfortable. This 3 bedroom, 1 bath home at just over 1,000 sq ft sits on a calm, pedestrian friendly, city street, with a beautiful fenced in back yard, ideal for entertaining and relaxing. When entering the home, the open kitchen and living room embrace everyone who enters w