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

St Petersburg
$300,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,795 Sqr Feet
Construction complete and ready to move in to this gorgeous home in Lake Maggiore area of vibrant St. Petersburg. Open concept living/dining/kitchen area with crown molding, wood plank porcelain tile flooring throughout all main living areas, gourmet kitchen with all wood shaker cabinets, stainless
St Petersburg
$299,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,892 Sqr Feet
NEWLY Remodeled, 3 bed 2 bath, 1892sf, PLUS BONUS detached 1 bed inlaw/rental with alley access. This rental will pay 1/2 your mortgage!!!! All New.....Roof on the main house, low-e, argon gas insulated Windows, solid wood kitchen Cabinets with Granite Countertops, (inlaw also), all Flooring, S
$299,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,740 Sqr Feet
You'll love this welcoming and radiant 4 bed, 2 bath, 2 car garage, home with an open concept floor plan. Featuring new and high end finishes including new cabinets, granite countertops, stainless stel appliances, tile flooring and much more. This well-loved home is on a sought-after central locale.
St Petersburg
$295,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,135 Sqr Feet
Crisp Manor pool home! Light, bright and spacious floorplan with terrazzo floors throughout and open concept from every room w/views of the backyard. Fenced backyard with an oversized swimming pool. Minutes to "Crisp Park" which offers a public boat ramp and blocks from NE Shopping center and only 2
St Petersburg
$294,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,324 Sqr Feet
St Petersburg
$290,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,330 Sqr Feet
Stunning, meticulously maintained, LIKE NEW bungalow home in North Saint Petersburg! This home was completely remodeled from floor boards to shingles less than 2 years ago. With loads of natural light, hand crafted wood work, 2 smokeless fireplaces, and like new features, this home will not last l
St Petersburg
$289,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,749 Sqr Feet
This is Your Opportunity to Own a Turnkey Concrete Block Home on an Oversized Corner Lot in a NON FLOOD ZONE! Centrally Located in One of St. Pete’s Most Popular Neighborhoods, Just Minutes Away from Downtown St. Pete, 4th Street and Easy Access to 275. At a Spacious 1,749 Heated Square Feet with
$289,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,518 Sqr Feet
Situated at the end of a quiet cul-de-sac street, this 3-bedroom, 2-bath pool home has been fully updated with wood-look tile throughout the living areas and new carpet in the master bedroom. The eat-in kitchen features new stainless steel appliances. The family room opens up to a large, fenced-in b
St Petersburg
$289,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,158 Sqr Feet
This home would check every item on your "must-have" list. Beautiful 2/1 with a den/office, which you will be proud to call home. Fully renovated, open floor plan in a highly sought after community, at a great price. This house has been completely renovated top to bottom, with all appropriate permit
St Petersburg
$279,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,488 Sqr Feet
Classic Mid-Century Block construction home with attached one car garage. Soaring beamed ceilings in the living room greet you upon entry. Low maintenance tile floors throughout the home make for easy living. The Florida room is perfect for watching T.V or just hanging out. The kitchen has been
$279,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,090 Sqr Feet
This is a move in ready updated 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath single family home located in prestige Belleair. You enter this beautiful updated home with ceramic tile - looks like travertine, 2 spacious living areas, dining room and updated kitchen and baths. The bedrooms are spacious and the large main ba
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,358 Sqr Feet
LIGHT, BRIGHT, UPDATED, CHARMING Rutenberg style, and a perfect location! This SOLID BLOCK mid century beauty with pretty landscaping boasts diamond polished terrazzo floors, and a great spacious semi open floor plan for easy living. The beautiful galley kitchen opens to living room and dining room
St Petersburg
$274,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,260 Sqr Feet
No expense was spared in this Absolutely Gorgeous, FULLY Renovated St Petersburg home. The curb appeal will catch your eye first as you near this beautiful home, with fresh new paint, a new roof, new landscaping, and georgous wood trim/accents. Enjoy the beautiful Floridian days & nights from the fr
St Petersburg
$269,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 966 Sqr Feet
Unlimited potential! This home boasts a huge lot that affords the new owner the ability to build an accessory dwelling unit with the city's approval. Located on the nicest street in one of St Pete's most sought after communities, walking distance to great local restaurants, bars, shops, fresh market
$269,900, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,446 Sqr Feet
Cute as a button and neat as a pin. This is the home you have always dreamed of; complete with the picket fence. Everything is new here and nothing has been left untouched. Attention to detail is evident throughout starting with the charming exterior showcasing lush landscaping and a pleasing color
St Petersburg
$269,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 982 Sqr Feet
GORGEOUS NORTHEAST PARK HOME! Move-in ready!!!Renovated 2 BR, 1 bath block home. Conveniently located near Crisp Park w/public boat ramp and playground. Close to 4th St. shopping and dining. Just a short drive to downtown St. Pete restaurants, museums and night life. New kitchen w/shaker-style
St Petersburg
$269,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,008 Sqr Feet
Charming Historic Bungalow 2 bedroom 2 bath house near downtown St. Pete with a spacious backyard. Walking distance to Crescent Lake.
$267,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,886 Sqr Feet
Must see 4 Bed 2 Bath House. This home sits on a CORNER lot with beautiful mature landscaping, an inviting entrance, long driveway, fenced backyard with covered deck, and is a very short walk to the neighborhood park and pond. Home interior features a large foyer area, spacious tiled Living area w
St Petersburg
$265,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,517 Sqr Feet
Highly Sought Holiday Park / Sheryl Manor Neighborhood. This 3 Bedroom 2 Baths, 1 car garage has a perfect, split bedroom floor plan with a formal living & dining room, plus a large family room overlooking a spacious, tropical backyard. An in-ground Pool and a Covered Party / Patio offers a place to
$264,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,038 Sqr Feet
St Petersburg
$260,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,507 Sqr Feet
This gorgeously remodeled house is priced to sell. Featuring new laminate wood floors, brand new kitchen with stainless steel appliances and granite countertops, updated bathrooms, new interior and exterior paint, inside laundry, a formal dining room and open layout perfect for entertainment, the ow
St Petersburg
$254,999, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,642 Sqr Feet
It's all about: Location, Location, Location!! This neighborhood is a hidden gem located just a block from the intercoastal waterway, walking distance to Abercombie park, Pinellas Trail, Target and other large shopping centers and restaurants in the Tyrone area. This 4 bedroom 2 bath has 1,642 squ
St Petersburg
$249,750, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,350 Sqr Feet
Surround yourself with the best St. Petersburg has to offer! This 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom floor-plan home provides newly remodeled updates inside and out! This home provides many amenities including new roof, newer A/C, new electrical panel, new garage door opener, refinished original terrazzo floorin
St Petersburg
$244,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,544 Sqr Feet
BEAUTIFUL newly remodeled family home! Everything is brand new! You will fall in love with the spacious open floor plan. Upon walking in there is a super cute dining area leading to the living room. With all the windows you'll have plenty of natural light to enjoy in your cozy living area. The kitch
$244,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,286 Sqr Feet
This 2 bedroom/ 2 bathroom/ 2 car garage +Huge BONUS ROOM in desirable Pinebrook Estates is a MUST SEE! This home is situated on a CORNER LOT and has an EXTRA PARKING PAD with a DOUBLE GATE that is perfect for a BOAT OR RV. This home is very CLEAN, LOVED, and WELL-MAINTAINED. There are so many ext
$240,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,410 Sqr Feet
This Largo one-story home offers a wood burning fireplace, stainless steel appliances, and a one-car garage.
St Petersburg
$239,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,180 Sqr Feet
Hurry to see this charming move-in ready, 3 bedroom 1 bath home. Surrounding this home are beautiful oak trees and landscaping along with a fully fenced back/side yard. Once inside you have a nice entryway that leads you in to the open floorplan perfect for entertaining. The kitchen opens up to the
St Petersburg
$239,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,253 Sqr Feet
Are you ready to entertain....This will be the home for you... Enjoy your 2 bedroom 2 bath home with new carpet in bedrooms and beautiful laminate flooring throughout! Plenty of living space for indoor entertaining with large living room and family room, along with walk out to your beautiful in grou
St Petersburg
$234,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,249 Sqr Feet
St Petersburg
$230,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,017 Sqr Feet
Indoor/outdoor living is epitomized in this lusciously landscaped stilt home in the friendly Bayou Shores neighborhood, located just 2 mi. south of downtown St. Pete. With 2 bedrooms, 1 bathroom, and a bonus sunroom to use as a home office or den, the floor plan allows for a variety of uses without