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 The Sandy Hartmann Group, 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!

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$300,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,611 Sqr Feet
Old Southeast Neighborhood. Super convenient location just 2 blocks from one of St Petersburg's most beautiful waterfront parks. Lassing Park is ideal for outdoor activities. Just a short walk to the Chattaway restaurant and just minutes to vibrant downtown St Petersburg via bike or car. USF camp
$299,900, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 2,196 Sqr Feet
This home is ready for your personal touches. Located on a cul de sac lot in a lovely area off Park Street. The location provides easy access to all necessary amenities including, restaurants, the tyrone mall and minutes to Maderia Beach. The home features an open living room/family combination tha
$299,000, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,716 Sqr Feet
Welcome home to this beautiful 3 bedrooms, 3 baths, one car garage St. Petersburg Home. This outstanding property is move-in ready, freshly painted inside/out and sits on more than a third of acre lot. Entering the home, you will notice the new laminate flooring throughout, double pane windows, new
$299,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,494 Sqr Feet
This 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1 car garage, which has been converted into a storage room and can easily be converted back. Open floor plan. Beautiful Cove ceilings. The kitchen has solid surface counters and gas stove. Instant heat with a tankless water heater. The home has Terrazzo floors throughout. The
$299,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,700 Sqr Feet
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$290,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,410 Sqr Feet
Botanical butterfly garden and lagoon like pool views that spill inside through every window and door. Elegance best describes the gleaming floors that run from the living room right through to the kitchen with custom cabinets, granite counters, an immense amount of storage and flawlessly kept appl
$279,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,023 Sqr Feet
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$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,368 Sqr Feet
A HOMERUN! This Beautiful Corner lot home is just the beginning of all the great things that come with the house. Pull right into the double car garage (yes you read that right DOUBLE) where you will walk into a Freshly painted 3 bed, 1 and a half bath house that features a massive Florida room; tha
$274,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,952 Sqr Feet
MUST SEE CENTRALLY LOCATED LARGO GEM! This 3 bedroom two-story home features a very spacious first floor including a 30'x15' family room, formal dining area, comfortable kitchen space, open living room and a bonus room that could easily be converted into a 4th bedroom. The large family room boast
$269,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,152 Sqr Feet
This contemporary, solid block, two bedroom, two bath home is close to downtown, the beaches, shopping and all of the wonderful amenities that St Petersburg is famous for. Beautiful, low maintenance terrazzo floors run throughout the home as well as an on-demand water system to help keep utilities l
$269,300, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,200 Sqr Feet
YOU’LL LOVE this beautifully bright, one-story home in the desired St. Petersburg Community featuring 3 Bedrooms, 2 full Baths, 1 Car Garage and Spacious Backyard. Property highlights include upgraded Open-Concept Kitchen with subway glass tile backsplash for a modern, glossy look that will instan
$269,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,116 Sqr Feet
Newly remodeled, 2 bedroom/2 bathroom house with original, beautifully restored terrazzo floors, centrally located close to the boat ramp in Sun-Lit Shores. The house features brand new impact windows, new kitchen cabinets with soft closing drawers, granite counter tops, attractive backsplash and br
$259,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,128 Sqr Feet
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$250,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,080 Sqr Feet
Location, location, location. Welcome to this two-bedroom, one-bathroom Snell Shore home. This home offers laminate wood and tile floors throughout, double pane windows, the kitchen has a brand new refrigerator and range. Walk through the french doors leading out to the spacious family room/dining a
$248,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 916 Sqr Feet
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$245,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,095 Sqr Feet
You will love this meticulously maintained and tastefully updated low maintenance home. The roof was replaced in 2018 and the AC was replaced in 2017. Other updates include gleaming tile floors, new kitchen cabinets and countertops, updated windows, vinyl fencing, and much more. There is also a l
$240,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,288 Sqr Feet
Light and Bright this cute little home is nestled away in a beautiful neighborhood in Franklin Heights St. Petersburg. NO HOA OR CDD FEES. Open Floor plan with COMPLETELY NEW KITCHEN AND GRANITE COUNTER-TOPS throughout. UPDATED BATHROOM WITH FRAMELESS GLASS SHOWER DOORS. This 3 bedroom home of 1,288
$239,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,118 Sqr Feet
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$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,032 Sqr Feet
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$235,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,224 Sqr Feet
This lovely 2 Bedroom 1 bath home is located in a very desirable area just minutes away from area beaches. The newly painted interior and exterior complement the beautifully landscaped property that provides amazing curb appeal. The large fenced in back yard and screened in patio are great for enter
$235,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,330 Sqr Feet
3 Bedroom, Possible 4 BEDROOM via BONUS ROOM! One thing in life still stands true,...Home Ownership is the AMERICAN DREAM & this beauty even comes with the WHITE PICKET FENCE. This Home is situated on an attractive Street and in a desirable neighborhood of St. Petersburg. Upon arrival, you’ll see
$234,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,168 Sqr Feet
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$225,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,076 Sqr Feet
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$219,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 988 Sqr Feet
For sale is a newly remodeled 3/1 on a tree lined street in the highly desired Edgemoor neighborhood of St Pete. The chef of the house will appreciate the brand new cabinets, beautiful new quartz counters, and brand new stainless steel appliances in the kitchen. The brand new waterproof vinyl floors
$210,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 960 Sqr Feet
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$209,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,132 Sqr Feet
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$200,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,051 Sqr Feet
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*We are in a Multiple Offer Situation. Final Seller Review will be this Thursday 10/17 at 5pm* Every inch of this 1450+ sqft concrete block home has been upgraded and maintained to the highest standard over the years. Sitting on a ¼ of an acre, this home truly offers the WOW factor with an oversize
$200,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,104 Sqr Feet
Welcome home to this inviting home in the Tyrone area of St. Petersburg. This home boast updated window, new paint, roof was replaced in 2008, lots of tile throughout, and a large backyard with shed. Located in X flood zone and does not require flood insurance. Extra parking space in front yard. Hom
$199,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 900 Sqr Feet
Fabulous starter pool home in the sought after neighborhood of Davista NONE FLOOD ZONE within minutes access to beaches, interstate, restaurants, hospitals, shopping and more! This home offers two bedroom, one bath, one car garage, and a large bonus room in the front that could be used as a 3rd b