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Buyers Guide

Buying a home is perhaps the single biggest transaction you’ll make in your life. For this reason, it’s important to go about the process carefully and with the right planning and preparation.

This step-by-step guide was prepared to help you understand the buying process in the Tampa Bay area and give you helpful pointers on what to watch out for.

Get mortgage pre-approval

Mortgage pre-approval is not binding, but it will give you a good idea of how much mortgage you can qualify for. It will be wise to use this in setting a budget. Furthermore, most buyers will only show their homes to buyers with pre-approval.

Find a real estate agent to work with

Working with a real estate agent who’s knowledgeable and experienced in the Tampa Bay area will give you the edge in this highly competitive and dynamic market. Don’t make the mistake of going it alone or you risk making costly errors, such as missing out on finding the right home or unsuccessful closings.

Search for the perfect home

The Tampa Bay market offers a slew of home choices, and going through dozens of listings can be confusing. To help you narrow down your options, make a list of the features and amenities that you’re looking for.

  • The list should include essential details, such as location, the type of neighborhood, proximity to schools and offices, number of bedrooms, and amount of storage space.
  • It should also include the amenities and creature comforts that you want to have, like a recreation room, a swimming pool, an outdoor kitchen, and others.
  • Next, rank each feature according to your priorities. Which ones are the must-haves, and which can you do without when you have to make a choice? Search for homes with these factors in mind.

Get home financing

Once you’ve identified a home that you love, it’s time to secure financing. Go through the different loan packages offered by various lenders and choose one that’s best suited for you. Things to consider include the down payment amount, monthly amortizations, and the duration of the loan. Your real estate agent can connect you with lenders and help you go through your options.

Make an offer

Offers are often made through forms where you indicate your offer price and terms and conditions, including all contingencies. Earnest money payments are typically part of the offer and may be vital in the seller’s decision to accept or reject a bid. Your real estate agent will help you determine competitive offer price and terms, and prepare the offer letter.

Arrange inspections

Once your offer is accepted and a sales agreement is executed, arrange for necessary home inspections, such as termite, property boundary and assessor’s inspections. If an inspection uncovers anything amiss with the features, structure or soundness of the home, you may choose not to proceed with the purchase, or renegotiate with the seller on who will shoulder the costs of any needed repair or improvement.

Obtain insurance

Get the necessary insurance for the home, including title, homeowners’, and flood insurance. Your real estate agent will help you determine if flood insurance is needed in the neighborhood you want to buy into.

Close the sale

Pay the down payment in full as well as your earnest money deposit and finalize financing. The closing process, also known as “settlement” or “escrow,” is usually automated, and you won’t have much to do but wait until the title is transferred to your name. Transfer taxes, closing costs, legal fees and others will need to be paid at this time. While the process involves plenty of paperwork, your agent will normally do most of the legwork.

Once the title is transferred to you, you become the official owner of your new home.