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!

Search Results

St Petersburg
$292,990, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,456 Sqr Feet
Very Nice well maintained 3/2 Home with a 1/1 rental with den on over 1/2 acre (2 Lots) on Corner lot!!! As you enter the main home you will notice the nice open floorplan, kitchen with bar, dining room and family/living room, this home has a split floor plan with a Very large master bedroom with a
St Petersburg
$289,990, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,202 Sqr Feet
Welcome to beautiful Lake Pasadena, a friendly neighborhood with established trees and quaint brick streets. This is a 3 bedroom 2 bath home with a spacious floor plan and central location close to downtown St. Petersburg, the Tyrone shopping area and beaches. It is a solidly built block home with p
St Petersburg
$285,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,000 Sqr Feet
In the heart of St Pete, a highly sought-after location you will find this lovingly maintained block home. This beautifully updated home has everything you'll need. Fall in love with the beautiful front porch, ranch style window shutters and the bright and open feel. Any chef, experienced or novice,
St Petersburg
$279,000, 4 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,620 Sqr Feet
For sale is a newly remodeled 4/3 conveniently located in the Disston Heights neighborhood of St. Pete. The open concept and two separate living spaces will make this home perfect for entertaining. The chef of the house will appreciate the brand new cabinets, new quartz counters, and new stainless s
$275,000, 2 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,870 Sqr Feet
Potential Abounds! Split-plan pool home in the Lake Pearl Estates neighborhood. A wall was opened up to create a larger family room, but could very easily be returned to a 3 bedroom home... awaiting your finishing touches! Master en-suite with walk-in closet. You will love the outdoor kitchen space
$265,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,710 Sqr Feet
This charming house is located on an over-sized lot in largo. The open living plan features a spacious living room adjoining a large dining room. The open kitchen includes wood cabinets, “granite look” mica counters and tile floor. A ½ bath has an updated vanity and access to the in-door laund
St Petersburg
$264,500, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,260 Sqr Feet
Tired of paying high energy bills? This 3/2 Block constructed home has SOLAR PANELS! Say goodbye to high bills and hello to extreme savings! This home has a backyard oasis complete with a state of the art hot tub, fire pit, and so much more to help you relax after a long day. New kitchen cabinets an
$259,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,571 Sqr Feet
Welcome Home! This Freshly painted 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage block home is nestled in a quiet, residential neighborhood 15 minutes from the Gulf Beaches, with quick access to Ulmerton Rd., US-19 and other major roads. This spacious home features a formal living room, separate dining room, kitc
St Petersburg
$259,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 972 Sqr Feet
Location! Location! This well maintained move in ready, 2 Bedroom, 1.5 Bath solid block home is located in St. Petersburg’s Central Oak Park neighborhood just minutes from our beautiful Gulf Beaches and vibrant downtown St. Petersburg. This well cared for; energy efficient home has a newer high ef
St Petersburg
$257,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,027 Sqr Feet
This well-built masonry home, in a popular, quiet neighborhood, has been painted inside and out. The roof, central H/A, gas hot water heater and electric panel have been replaced within the last few years. Enjoy the large, fenced backyard, which has a shed. A wide, gated driveway (from the alley) le
St Petersburg
$249,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,602 Sqr Feet
Short Sale. Home sold As-Is.
St Petersburg
$249,850, 4 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,902 Sqr Feet
Fantastic location! Don't miss this great opportunity in Edgemoor Estates. This spacious home has so many features. The oversized lot has room to park a boat, RV, and more. Relax on the screened front port, rear balcony, or beat the heat in the huge resort-style pool. The floor plan is quite versati
St Petersburg
$249,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,241 Sqr Feet
Come check out this must-see, renovated 3 bedroom/ 2 bath home in the sought-after Old Northeast. Centrally located to almost everything Pinellas County has to offer, this property is in the perfect location. The home features 3 larger bedrooms, and 2 FULL baths, as well as a wood-burning fireplace
St Petersburg
$245,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,225 Sqr Feet
MOVE-IN READY 3 Bedroom 2 Bathroom BLOCK Home in Beautiful Family-Friendly neighborhood of Meadowlawn! Great curb appeal! Almost everything is NEW! Brand New Kitchen Cabinets and STAINLESS-STEEL appliances. BRAND NEW A/C! NEW Electric Panel (2017), NEW Water Heater (2017). This home has been FRESHLY
$245,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,308 Sqr Feet
This lovely 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 2 car garage home is located off Starkey Rd and just a few miles from Lake Seminole Park. The shingle roof of this block construction home is only a few years old (2015), and has newer double pane windows. New AC was installed in 2018. This open concept home has cer
St Petersburg
$240,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,192 Sqr Feet
Paradise found in this solid block home perfectly situated in the highly sought after neighborhood of Pinellas Point! This amazing home offers 3 bedrooms, 2 baths and has so much to offer. It's perfect for entertaining and family living with its flowing layout. Renovated in 2013, some updated featur
$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,621 Sqr Feet
Must See!! No Flood Insurance required. This 3Br/2Ba single family home has a lot to offer...Zoned for highly desirable Seminole schools and close to the beaches, shopping, golf courses and some of the best restaurants around. Large fenced in back yard is perfect for outside entertaining. The ki
St Petersburg
$239,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,521 Sqr Feet
Great move in ready home! Spacious 3 bedroom, 2 bath home with Terrazo flooring throughout. Located on the desirable Coquina Key Isle. Very close to downtown and all that it has to offer. New fencing and thoughtful tropical landscaping with pavered driveway. Stainless steel appliances and newer
$239,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,262 Sqr Feet
Don't miss out on this opportunity to own this wonderful Largo home. With three bedrooms and two baths, an attached one car garage, there's plenty of room to grow. Home features a stone fireplace and a large screen room adjacent to the main living area. Large corner lot could offer a spot for boat
St Petersburg
$230,000, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,240 Sqr Feet
ATTENTION INVESTORS! Located in historic & charming Round Lake neighborhood, this 1910 bungalow is located on a corner lot and offers tall ceilings on interior + attached in-law apartment above the 1 car garage. The main home is bungalow style, 2 bedroom, 2 bath with enclosed front porch, formal liv
St Petersburg
$224,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 908 Sqr Feet
This is a really adorable, immaculate, solid block home in a desirable westside area of St Pete. On a large 67x127 lot, the curb appeal is apparent as soon as you drive up to a well manicured yard with shade trees. As you enter the sunny Living Room, you'll see lovely wood floors, new blinds, and fr
St Petersburg
$219,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,105 Sqr Feet
Block construction home on a large lot (73x125)..Home has all the big ticket items replaced: Roof (2017) New Windows (2018), A/C (6yrs old), and New Water Heater (2018). Not in a Flood Zone. Walking distance to Gladden Park and Central to Downtown St Petersburg and the Beaches.
St Petersburg
$217,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,200 Sqr Feet
3 blks to Tampa Bay, close to Downtown St. Petersburg, and minutes to Beach. One owner block home ,mint condition, built 2004. 1309 Sq ft. 1200 livable. All windows north and south exposure except kitchen/ low electric bills. Many deductions for insurance, low insurance bill. No Flood
$215,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,152 Sqr Feet
Charming house located in the heart of Gulfport. From the moment you walk in the door you'll be memorized with the newly polished terrazzo flooring throughout this 3 bedroom 1 full bath home. As you enter you're greeted with a front entryway that offers a bonus area for mud room or small office. Spa
St Petersburg
$214,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,044 Sqr Feet
Just listed!!! Come and see this AMAZING 3 bedroom 1 bath remodeled home. This brand new kitchen has gorgeous cabinets, granite countertops and stainless steel appliances. The bathroom is brand new and beautiful. The home has brand new paint on the interior and exterior. The home is situated on a
$213,900, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 2,015 Sqr Feet
Now available in the Orange View subdivision of Pinellas! Come see this charming Home consisting of 4 bedrooms, 2 bath, 2,015(sqft), -clean residence with a spacious layout and great backyard! This is the perfect home for those looking for space and best of all it’s move in ready. New Carpet was
$209,995, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 794 Sqr Feet
Available now and move in ready! This is a great centrally located 2 bedroom,1 bathroom 1 car garage house. Bonus indoor laundry room can be used as an office. Large fenced back yard and terrazzo floors are great for your pet. All walls and ceiling has been just been painted. Newer cabinets in both
St Petersburg
$209,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 962 Sqr Feet
Like NEW??? How about this solid block house with a NEW roof, AC unit, hot water heater, garage door, bathroom and designer kitchen to die for. The kitchen was just completed this month with all new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops and custom cabinets. The backyard has a large grill
St Petersburg
$209,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 945 Sqr Feet
Don't miss this one! Move in ready 2/1 with bonus room and attached utility which the possibility to convert into a 3rd bedroom with 2nd bathroom. Plenty of living space and 2 large carpeted bedrooms, with the kitchen and bath both upgraded in '07. The bonus room is tiled and shares a wall with the
St Petersburg
$199,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,074 Sqr Feet
Home features recently updated 2 Bedrooms. 1.5 Bathrooms, situated in beautiful St Petersburg Fl. Home features large open floor plan, stunning granite counter-tops with breakfast bar. Stainless steal refrigerator, dishwasher and microwave. Freshly painted interior and exterior, with beautiful lamin