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 The Sandy Hartmann Group, 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, 4 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,624 Sqr Feet
If Multi-generational living is for you, this Mid-Century home complete with Cedar Shake shingles is ready for a new owner! This diamond in the rough gem has so much potential for a large family. Large corner lot in quiet Meadowlawn boasting 4 bdrm, 3 bath in a split plan with Terrazzo floors throug
St Petersburg
$300,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,853 Sqr Feet
A move in ready, immaculate 3 bed, 2 bath renovated block home in North St. Petersburg is now available! Beautifully updated inside and out, including a new roof, new windows, new AC, new water heater, new flooring, new appliances, new fixtures and new fence! Step inside this 1,853 sqft floor plan f
St Petersburg
$299,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,003 Sqr Feet
Welcome home to historic Roser Park, with brick-paved roads, gorgeous scenery, tropical vegetation alongside the stream and walking path with just a short walk to Downtown. The kitchen has been remodeled and feature tile floors, new grey cabinets, a coffee bar area, or desk area, and gas stove. Orig
St Petersburg
$285,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,486 Sqr Feet
Welcome home to this 4 bedroom 2 bath, pool home in the popular Bay Pines Estates neighborhood. To start, there's an inviting circular drive and gorgeous oak tree to greet you. Enjoy this split bedroom plan with the spacious master being 22 x 12.5 with a beautifully updated bath. Updated kitchen
Madeira Beach
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,664 Sqr Feet
Great opportunity to customize this home as it needs a complete remodel. It is a solid concrete block home with tons of potential. This home is only steps to the gleaming golden sand of Madeira Beach and is also close to shopping, 30 minutes to Tampa International. Cash only offers.
St Petersburg
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,259 Sqr Feet
Come see this BEAUTIFUL 3 bedroom, 2 bath, 1259 sq ft home minutes to the beach! Enjoy the convenience of an Open Floor plan with GORGEOUS polished terrazzo throughout the home! The backyard is perfectly laid out for entertaining! This home has so much to offer - Just to name a few: Newly Remodeled
$275,000, 2 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,475 Sqr Feet
Renovated 2 Bed/ 3 Bath pool home in desirable Keene Park neighborhood. This home is a perfect updated classic. The kitchen features large wood cabinets, granite counter tops, stainless steel appliances, recessed lighting, and a glass tile backsplash. The adjoining dining room perfectly stages any
St Petersburg
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,218 Sqr Feet
Welcome to Shore Acres! This charming 3-bedroom, 2-bath, 2-car garage home is ready for a new owner! As you walk up, you will notice the beautifully landscaped front yard leading to the welcoming covered entryway. This 1738 sq. ft. home has been completely remodeled from top to bottom. Updates incl
St Petersburg
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,540 Sqr Feet
This spacious updates 3-bedroom, 2 bath, split plan with, features a great Cook's kitchen. Granite counter tops, with a large island space for eating and prep work. Loads of cabinet space, the Refrigerator, Dishwasher and Fridge have all been replace in last few years. Both baths have been redone. T
St Petersburg
$269,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,270 Sqr Feet
Come enjoy this modern and completely renovated 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom home with approx 1,270 heated living area. The kitchen has been renovated with new soft hinge cabinets, Silver Grey granite counters, a natural gas cook top, stainless steel Whirlpool appliances, and Dark Walnut flooring throughou
St Petersburg
$259,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,792 Sqr Feet
Cash or Private Money Only! Buyer must perform their own due diligence. This home makes a perfect fixer upper for the right family, rental or flip project or even an awesome Air BNB. It is located minutes away from downtown, shopping plazas and restaurants. The property is offered in AS IS condition
St Petersburg
$259,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 936 Sqr Feet
**UPDATED BUNGALOW IN NORTHEAST ST PETE!! **2 BEDROOMS, 1 BATHROOM, ALLEY ACCESS, LARGE LOT - READY NOW!! Don't delay this 936 sqft home is Move-In ready, featuring multiple updates, designer colors all on a fully fenced private lot 45'x127' with plenty of room for a pool, raised wood deck and 240sq
St Petersburg
$255,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,511 Sqr Feet
Well maintained home in the quiet neighborhood. Feature three spitted bedrooms, two full bath, and huge living room at the entrance. You will fall in love with family room with gorgeous stone fireplace that makes you feel cozy during Christmas and New Year Holidays Seasons with your festive decora
St Petersburg
$250,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,052 Sqr Feet
Cute, clean and ready for a new owner! This Edgemoor Estates property is located close to biking/pedestrian trail that leads South to downtown or north to Weedon Island. Home boasts 3 bedrooms, 2 baths, a one car garage, large fenced yard, enclosed patio with seperate mobile AC unit, gleaming terraz
$249,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,392 Sqr Feet
A lovely three bedroom, 2 full bath, two car garage, block home with a bonus room, on a corner lot in the Orange Wood Highlands neighborhood of Seminole. This home features a kitchen that is open to the dining area, which flows right into the living room, with the bonus room open to, and directly b
St Petersburg
$249,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,188 Sqr Feet
Location, Location..! Popular 4th St District..! Cute as a Button, Charming as can be..! This 3 Bedroom - 2 Bath - POOL home is located in the heart of NE St Petersburg, walking distance to waterfront parks and shopping, minutes to Downtown St Pete. You feel the charm starting with the inviting fron
St Petersburg
$245,500, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,060 Sqr Feet
LOCATION, LOCATION, LOCATION!! Check out this well cared for home centrally located in St. Petersburg that provides convenient access to beautiful Gulf Beaches, shopping, and St. Petersburg College. No need to be concerned with all the Florida rain this home boast a new roof done in 2018 and you wil
St Petersburg
$244,600, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,193 Sqr Feet
Location, Location, and Welcome Home. Situated in a very quiet neighborhood and close to everything. Minutes away from US. Hwy 19. Easy access to Interstate 275, and 10 minutes away from the allure, excitement, fun, and beauty of downtown St. Petersburg! This extremely well-maintained 2 bedroom, 1.
St Petersburg
$240,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,305 Sqr Feet
This move-in ready 3/2 block home with a spacious split floor plan has a lot to offer! This well maintained home is located on a peaceful cul-de-sac in Westchester Estates. The home boasts a great floor plan, with a master suite featuring a spacious walk-in closet, attached bathroom with step in sho
St Petersburg
$235,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,326 Sqr Feet
Spacious, updated, well maintained Meadow Lawn POOL home available now! Just added dishwasher in kitchen, saltwater system for pool and new creepy crawler cleaning system. Brand new stacked water dryer combo in laundry room - stays for new home owner. Over 1300 SF of living area offers you plenty
St Petersburg
$235,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 812 Sqr Feet
This magnificent home has been completely renovated the right way. You won’t find any shortcuts here! As you enter the home, there is a large living space open to the kitchen, which is perfect for entertaining guests. The kitchen features new granite counter tops, ample counter space, new kitchen
$225,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,271 Sqr Feet
Come see this wonderful home in the highly-desired neighborhood of Mill Pond! This amazing home features 3 roomy bedrooms and 2 full Bathrooms with a 1 car garage. You will love the open flow from the living room, dining into the large kitchen. The Screened back porch is perfect for entertaining and
St Petersburg
$225,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,446 Sqr Feet
Large Seminole area 3 Bedroom home. Lots of living space with places to roam with this open floor plan. Updated kitchen with granite counters. Corner lot with oversized circular driveway. Lots of spaces to park along with space for Boat or RV Parking. A must see in this price range.
St Petersburg
$219,900, 3 Beds, 3 Baths, 1,010 Sqr Feet
**UPDATED BUNGALOW IN NORTH ST PETE!! **2 BEDROOMS, 2 BATHROOMS, ALLEY ACCESS, LARGE LOT - READY NOW!! Don't delay this 818sqft home is Move-In ready, featuring multiple updates, designer colors on a private lot 50'x127' with a KICKER!! There is a detached 1 BEDROOM 1 BATHROOM suite just needs drywa
St Petersburg
$217,800, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,535 Sqr Feet
Move in ready!! Charming 3/2 home over 1500sq ft. Home has been completely updated! Brand new roof, energy efficient windows, new ceiling fans, new tankless water heater, new deck and landscaping, new stainless steel appliances, granite countertops, new backsplash, new flooring throughout, new bat
St Petersburg
$216,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,346 Sqr Feet
You don't want to miss the opportunity to purchase this Home! One of the best locations in St Pete and only a short car ride to the Mall, to the Beach or accessing the Interstate. This well maintained 2 bedroom floor plan could be 3 bedrooms with a few changes. You will find Beautiful Oak, Hard Wood
St Petersburg
$205,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,040 Sqr Feet
Updated & renovated 3 bed, 1 bath plus screened in back porch & additional back patio home with a large fenced in back yard. This home has been upgraded and modernized complete with a new roof (2015), new garage (2015) and new AC system (2017). Beautiful open kitchen with large eat-in area and gran
St Petersburg
$199,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,723 Sqr Feet
NOT a Short Sales, NOT a bank-owned property. Can close IMMEDIATELY!! Here is a great rehab or buy and hold income property in a highly appreciating Grand Central District neighborhood. The main house is a 2 bedroom 1 bathroom and the detached apartment has a spacious 1 bedroom 1 bath apartment w/ a
St Petersburg
$199,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 838 Sqr Feet
Charming one story home with 2 BR 1 BA plus screened front porch located in St. Petersburg! Fresh interior paint. Open floor plan. Bright kitchen accents stainless steel appliances and granite counter tops. Bedrooms are roomy with ample closet space. Large indoor laundry room and a one car carport.
St Petersburg
$199,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,070 Sqr Feet
Charming 2 Bedroom, 1 Bath, 1 Car Garage Pool Home is located in the sought after neighborhood of Shore Acres. Freshly painted inside and out, tile flooring throughout the home, roomy master bedroom with walk-in closet, split floor plan, enough room to park your boat on the side yard and a spacious