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

$299,999, 4 Beds, 3 Baths, 2,306 Sqr Feet
Very spacious 4 Bedroom 3 Bathroom Home located on a cul-de-sac just a short walk from Walsingham Park. The home features wood flooring, plantation shutters, a huge workshop complete with electricity, a private screened lanai off the master bedroom and a plunge pool. The yard is just enough for a
$299,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 2,010 Sqr Feet
Location, Location, Location!!! Minutes from fine dining, world renown beaches, golf courses, shopping and everything else Florida has to offer!! A beautiful 3 bedroom, 2 bath home, with a split-bedroom plan, large bonus room, 2010 sq ft of living space and 2-car garage! Beautiful brick paved drive
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$299,900, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,431 Sqr Feet
Room for largest of all pool parties! This Gunite pool is deep for the diving board if desired. Large screened porch for shade after you get that Florida tan. Located in desirable Disston Heights neighborhood where the lots are bigger and centrally located to major retail stores. Just minutes to th
$299,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,370 Sqr Feet
Completely renovated block home in desirable Gulfport. Completed addition of master bedroom with en suite bath. Updated electrical, plumbing. New architectural shingle roof with peel and stick base layer. Double pane insulated windows. All work permitted and performed by licensed contractors.
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$299,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,631 Sqr Feet
Remodeled 3 bedroom home in charming St. Petersburg neighborhood. Spacious rooms including a new bedroom addition. New dimensional shingle roof with SWR (peel and stick) underlayment. New central heat and air conditioning including new ductwork. Ample back yard with plenty of room for a pool. A
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$285,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,391 Sqr Feet
Move-in ready! No flood insurance required! This 2 bedroom, 2 1/2 bathroom home was recently remodeled with extreme attention to detail. From the high-end Allure Isocore luxury vinyl floors to the stunning travertine in the Florida room, this home is move-in ready for the next owner. The master
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$279,900, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,242 Sqr Feet
Come enjoy the beach life! This is a unique 2 bedroom, 2 bath home with an additional 1 bedroom, 1 bath efficiency or in-law apartment with separate side entrance. This separate space would also make a great guest space, home office, man cave, game room, etc. You’ll find hardwoods throughout the l
$275,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,675 Sqr Feet
GREAT LOCATION! NOT IN THE FLOOD ZONE AND JUST 6 MINUTES FROM BELLEAIR BEACH AND THE PUBLIC BOAT RAMP!! The first thing you'll notice as you arrive at this home is the beautiful mature landscaping leading the way to the front door, creating privacy for relaxing out on the Lani. From the front door,
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$269,900, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,618 Sqr Feet
Incredible home in an excellent location with many extra features. Fantastic schools, recent complete remodel, unincorporated Pinellas county and easy access to main roads to get everywhere quickly. Come see this wonderful 4 bedroom and 2 bathroom home with nearly new roof, A/C and water heater. Ea
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$269,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,155 Sqr Feet
WOW! This is like or better than BRAND NEW! 3br/2bth corner lot brick front home in Bonnie Bay! New Roof, New Windows, New HVAC, New Kitchen Cabinets, Appliances, Granite, Service Bar, etc. Tile Flooring Throughout. Master Bedroom with walk-in closet and full bath with linen closet and walk-in sh
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$269,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 830 Sqr Feet
Welcome to Five Points! Location, location, location! This property is cute as a button and offers fabulous amenities in very close proximity. Walking distance to yoga classes and short bike ride to beautiful Crisp Park and Coffee Pot Bayou that is just the tip of the ice "burg" as the 4th St cor
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$269,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,768 Sqr Feet
A RARE FIND in St Pete! Take a look at this beautiful, private Lake Mastery waterfront home, (85' lake front), with custom outdoor entertaining space including a custom Tiki bbq grill/outdoor kitchen area with stainless steel & granite slab prep area, newly painted wood deck with 12x12 covered canop
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$265,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,334 Sqr Feet
Charming bungalow just minutes from Downtown St. Petersburg. Nestled between Old Southeast and Driftwood, this big, bright and beautiful 4 bedroom, 2 bath home is move in ready. The property has been recently updated with newer roof and AC (2015) and the original hardwood floors have been refinished
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$264,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 958 Sqr Feet
Where can you find a piece of paradise where you can live and entertain or use as an office (law firm, insurance, hair salon, etc) if you wish? Property zoning allows you to live, work or even both here. Right here that is! Remodeled 2 bedroom 1 bath with a back alley entrance 1 car garage. As you
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$259,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,132 Sqr Feet
Cute 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath home with a 1 car garage attached!! Large backyard all fenced in. Great location, close to shopping, restaurants and schools.
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$250,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,286 Sqr Feet
Welcome to the Jungle Country Club Community. This home features two bedrooms and two full baths. Wonderfully maintained and cared for home. Kitchen features newer cabinets, dishwasher and refrigerator. Both bedrooms have new carpet and mirrored sliding closet doors. Great backyard (plenty of room
$249,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,694 Sqr Feet
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$235,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,308 Sqr Feet
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$232,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,478 Sqr Feet
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$220,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,347 Sqr Feet
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$220,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,089 Sqr Feet
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$219,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,080 Sqr Feet
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$217,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,371 Sqr Feet
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$217,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,420 Sqr Feet
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$214,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,330 Sqr Feet
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$204,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,036 Sqr Feet
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$200,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 948 Sqr Feet
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$199,777, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,097 Sqr Feet
Hurry in to see this newly rehabbed single family home. Enjoy an open floor plan with new tile flooring, baseboards, fixtures, paint inside and out. 3 Total Bedrooms with a large Master. The bathroom has a large vanity with newly tiled shower. From the kitchen lookout over the bar top to your livin
$195,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 993 Sqr Feet
Great opportunity to own this 2BR/2BA corner lot home located in the peaceful Floral Gardens. This cute home has beautiful flooring and open floorplan. The master bedroom has an ensuite and a walking closet. The roof is 2003, AC 2014 and has a brand new water heater 2019. Fenced in backyard with a s
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$194,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 914 Sqr Feet
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