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How To Buy Your First Florida Home

Aug 17, 2007
If you have been thinking of purchasing your first Florida home, there has never been a better time to do so. The current real estate conditions in Florida favor the buyer rather than the seller as the market has cooled a bit during 2006. At this time, listings are plentiful, and there are great deals to be found.

If you are looking for a brand-new home, builders throughout Florida are offering luxurious, custom homes that are built to withstand Florida's tropical climate and summer storms. These builders also offer discounts if you purchase your home during the winter months, and buy directly from the builder's sales office rather than using a realtor.

Even though interest rates have risen slightly above the all-time lows seen during the real estate boom of the last few years, rates still remain relatively low. Added to that, as a first time home buyer, there are numerous incentive programs and special interest rate mortgages designed just for you.

Preparing for your new home purchase

In order to avoid some of the pitfalls that first time home buyers can sometimes experience, it pays to be as well-prepared as possible before you begin shopping for your new home. Just because you are new to home ownership doesn't mean you should be uninformed, and when it comes to home buying, knowledge of the current market conditions and a bit of extra preparation really do go a long way.

How much can you afford?

Before you begin the search for your new Florida home, it is important to carefully and above all, realistically, assess your financial situation and home expense budget. It is often helpful to visit your bank or selected mortgage company to seek pre-approval for a loan amount before you start shopping.

When a lender completes a pre-qualification assessment, they look at how much home you can afford based on your income, credit score, predicted down payment amount and debt-to-income ratio, which represents how much you owe to creditors vs. your annual income.

Using this information, your lender can tell you what size loan you will qualify for. This allows you to narrow your Florida home search into an approximate price range and not only protects you from making an offer on a home you can't afford, but also allows you to search for the Florida home that will provide the amenities you want at the price you can afford.

When you are calculating the monthly payment you can afford, don't forget to include insurance costs and taxes. You can access tax records online or at the county offices of your desired neighborhood. If you already have an insurance carrier for your automobile, ask your agent about whether the company offers home loans. Companies often give multiple policy discounts, so it pays to have all of your policies through the same insurance provider.

Another advantage of using the same insurance provider for multiple policies is that when many agencies are not writing homeowner's insurance policies for new customers during hurricane season, they will write policies for existing customers.

Take advantage of federal and state first-time home buyer incentives

Since you have already established a relationship with your bank or private mortgage broker, you have a wealth of information at your disposal when it comes to finding the best first-time buyer incentive programs. Your mortgage specialist should be able to provide you with information on the various federal and state programs available to you, as well as first-time home buyer programs offered by individual lenders.

You should also double check any information you receive to ensure that you are truly getting the best loan that you possibly can, with the lowest interest rates and closing costs. The internet provides a wealth of information at your fingertips, with checklists, program guidelines, common real-estate terminology and online lending websites that can give you valuable hints on how to find and negotiate the best loans. Taking advantage of this resource could literally save you thousands of dollars.

Finding your ideal Florida home

Once you have your financing options in place, have researched the current market conditions, and have a working knowledge of the terminology commonly used by realtors, sellers and lenders, you are ready to begin the search for your new Florida home.

Drive through several different neighborhoods that suit your needs. Go on a Sunday and visit open houses given by realtors and builders. When you have your target price range and pre-qualification in hand, you are in an excellent position to negotiate when you find the perfect home or home builder. But don't forget to shop around. Look at several homes and interview several home builders.

By completing your research, preparations, and pre-qualification for financing, you are setting yourself up for first-time home buying success. So don't wait; begin your journey toward Florida home ownership today!
About the Author
Concrete Florida Homes survive hurricanes - Tom Beaty a real estate broker and
home builders in Palm Coast, Flagler and Volusia County. Visit: Florida real estate or Florida home
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