Karen Montgomery's Blog
For many people, Florida is the ideal place to own a vacation home. With warm weather year-round and endless waterfront areas to choose from, there are a number of ways to score the perfect second home in the Sunshine State.
Furthermore, with the cost of real estate rising, owning a home in Florida could become an excellent investment and asset down the road. So, how do you get started with buying a Florida vacation home? Read on to find out.
1. Tour the state
A good way to get to know the diverse locations in the large state of Florida is to plan a vacation (or two) during which you travel some of the areas you’re considering.
Many people who buy vacation properties in Florida buy in the area that they’ve grown to love. And while that’s an excellent way to ensure you’ll love your home, you might be missing out on areas that you like even more.
3. What are you really looking for in a home?
Having priorities when home shopping is important, even if it’s your second home. If your top priority is to have a solid investment, then you might be okay if the house isn’t near your favorite golf course or restaurant.
However, if your home is all about having a place to relax, you might choose amenities over resale value.
2. Have a plan if you want to rent your home
Many people buy second homes in Florida as a way to earn income while they aren’t using the property. However, renting out a home comes with considerable responsibility. As a property manager, you’ll need to maintain the property and be available when something goes awry. Those expenses can add up easily.
Similarly, some communities have rules around renting out your property, so ensure you’re allowed to rent your property before closing on the house.
3. Don’t rush your purchase
You already have your own home, so you don’t need to worry about having a roof over your head. Wait it out and make sure you find the best home for the best price.
4. Learn the market
Home prices in Florida can vary drastically depending on location. Median prices in Miami Beach are around $500,000, whereas Sarasota prices hover around $270,000 or nearly half the cost.
5. Consider buying with others
If you want to buy a second home in Florida but are turned off by the prices, sharing the property could be a good alternative. However, just like renting an apartment with friends, difficulties can arise.
To avoid conflict or financial headaches, make sure you have an agreed upon plan for situations that might come up, such as:
Determining who gets the house during which weeks out of the year
Deciding how the costs will be split
Decide what will happen if someone wants out of the contract
6. Use an experienced agent
When you’re buying a house in an area you’re not familiar with, and where you can’t be at all times, it pays to have boots on the ground who you can trust. A real estate agent will be able to ensure things go smoothly for you so that your house is ready when you arrive to seal the deal.
If you’re a first-time homebuyer, odds are you’ve thrown the words “prequalified” and “preapproved” interchangeably. However, when it comes to home loans, there are some very important differences between the two.
For buyers hoping to purchase a home with a few missteps and misunderstandings as possible, it’s vital to understand the procedures involved in acquiring financing for a home.
Today, we’ll break down these two real estate jargon terms so that you can go into the mortgage approval process armed with the knowledge to help you succeed in securing a home loan.
Let’s start with the easy part--mortgage prequalification. Getting prequalified helps borrowers find out what kind and what size mortgage they can likely secure financing for. It also helps lenders establish a relationship with potential customers, which is why you will often see so many ads for mortgage prequalification around the web.
Prequalification is a relatively simple process. You’ll be asked to provide an overview of your finances, which your lender will plug into a formula and then report back to you whether or not you’re likely to get approved based on your current circumstances.
The lender will ask you for general information about your income, assets, debt, and credit. You won’t need to provide exact documents for these things at this phase in the process, since you have not yet technically applied for a mortgage.
Prequalification exists to give you a broad picture of what you can expect. You can use this information to plan for the future, or you can seek out other lenders for a second opinion. But, before you start shopping for homes, you’ll want to make sure you’re preapproved, not prequalified.
After you’ve prequalified, you can start thinking about preapproval. If you’re serious about buying a home in the near future, getting preapproved will simplify your buying process. It will also make sellers more likely to take you seriously, since you already have your financing partially secured.
Mortgage preapproval requires you to provide the lender with income documentation. They will also perform a credit inquiry to receive your FICO score.
Mortgage applications and credit scores
Before we talk about the rest of the preapproval process, we need to address one common issue that buyers face when applying for a mortgage. There are two types of credit inquiries that lenders can perform to view your credit history--hard inquiries and soft inquiries.
A soft inquiry won’t affect your credit score. But a hard inquiry can lower your score by a few points for a period of 1 to 2 months. So, when getting preapproved, you should expect your credit score to drop temporarily.
Once you’re preapproved for a mortgage, you can safely begin looking at homes. If you decide to make an offer on a home and your offer is accepted, your preapproval will make it easier to move forward in closing on the home.
Once the lender checks off on the house you’re making an offer on, they will send you a loan commitment letter, enabling you to move forward with closing on the home.
A home inspection may prove to be exceedingly valuable, particularly for a homebuyer who is on the fence about whether to purchase a particular house. In fact, a house inspection may raise a number of questions that a buyer will need to consider to make an informed decision about whether to proceed with a home purchase.
Some of the key questions that a homebuyer needs to consider after a house inspection include:
1. What do the inspection results reveal about the overall condition of a house?
A home inspection represents a learning opportunity for a buyer. After the evaluation is finished, a buyer will receive a report that outlines a home inspector's findings. This report usually is available within 24 to 48 hours of an inspection and can make a world of difference to any buyer, at any time.
As a homebuyer, it is essential to review the results of a home inspection closely. That way, you can learn about any underlying issues with a home and map out the best course of action.
If you find that a home has a variety of problems, you may want to ask a seller to complete myriad house repairs before you finalize your home purchase. Or, if you are satisfied with a home after an inspection, you may want to continue with your house purchase.
Keep in mind that you can always walk away from a home sale after an inspection too. In this scenario, you can simply reenter the housing market and continue your search for your dream residence.
2. After reviewing the home inspection results, am I comfortable with a house?
Oftentimes, it helps to consider the prices of possible home repairs after you complete an inspection. If you analyze these potential costs and find they exceed your budget, you should plan accordingly.
Home repairs sometimes can be expensive and time-consuming. As such, if you are uncomfortable completing a broad assortment of home repairs on your own, you'll want to account for these repairs as you decide how to proceed with a house following an inspection.
3. Is a house a viable long-term investment?
The decision to purchase a home is a life-changing choice. Therefore, you should consider the results of a home inspection to ensure you can maximize the value of this potential long-term investment.
Remember, a home inspection gives you an opportunity to assess any structural issues with a house prior to finalizing a house purchase. If you have any concerns about a possible home purchase following an inspection, you should address these concerns before you complete your transaction.
When it comes to conducting a home inspection and reviewing the assessment results, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. This housing market professional can help you find an expert home inspector to analyze a residence both inside and out. Plus, a real estate agent will offer tips about what to do following an inspection and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.
If you discover a house that you want to buy, it generally is a good idea to submit a competitive offer. That way, you can move one step closer to acquiring your ideal residence.
However, the hours after you submit a home offer can be stressful, particularly for a buyer who fails to plan accordingly. Lucky for you, we're here to help you stay calm, cool and collected as you wait to receive a seller's response to your offer.
Let's take a look at three tips to help you get ready to handle a seller's response to your homebuying proposal.
1. Plan for the Worst-Case Scenario
Even the worst-case scenario is not the end of the world for a buyer who is awaiting a seller's response to a home offer. In fact, if a seller rejects your proposal, you can always reenter the housing market and continue your pursuit of your dream home.
As you await a seller's response to your home offer, you should not stop searching for available houses. Because if you continue your home search, you'll have no trouble moving forward in the homebuying journey if a seller rejects your home offer.
2. Consider All of Your Options
If you submit a home offer and a seller says "Yes," what should you do next? Consider how you'll proceed if a seller accepts your proposal, and you'll be better equipped than ever before to enjoy a seamless homebuying experience.
On the other hand, it helps to prepare for a potential counter-offer from a home seller as well. If you are open to negotiating with a seller, you may be able to find common ground with him or her and finalize a home purchase.
3. Consult with a Real Estate Agent
A real estate agent knows all about the stress that is commonly associated with submitting a homebuying proposal. He or she can help you minimize this stress and ensure you can achieve the best-possible results throughout the homebuying journey.
Typically, a real estate agent will work with you to submit a homebuying proposal. This housing market professional then will keep you up to date as you await a seller's response to your offer. And if you have any concerns or questions during this time, a real estate agent is happy to respond to them.
A real estate agent will make it simple to streamline the homebuying journey too. For instance, if a home seller accepts your offer, a real estate agent will be ready to help you move forward with a property inspection and appraisal. Conversely, if a home seller rejects your proposal, a real estate agent will be prepared to work with you to help you discover another house that matches or exceeds your expectations.
The waiting period after you submit an offer on a house may prove to be a challenging time. Fortunately, if you plan ahead for this period, you can maintain your confidence and continue to move forward in the homebuying journey.