Buying a Home


DECIDING TO BUY

Purchasing a property is most likely the biggest financial decision you will ever make. Whether this is your first  purchase or you are an experienced buyer, this decision must be made carefully. As a buyer in the Tampa Bay area real estate market, you will want to know the process for purchasing your dream home.

Why Do You Want To Buy?
Are you tired of paying rent? Have you outgrown your current home? Would you like a larger yard? Would you rather live in a different area? Do you want to shorten your commute? Identify your “needs” as well as your “wants” in a new home. Having a clear sense of your reasons for buying will help you choose the right home.

Has Your Income Grown?
Home ownership can be a very good investment. As you pay down the principal part of your loan, you are building equity over time in addition to any market appreciation on your property.

 

PREPARATION

Before you start shopping for your dream home, it’s a good idea to make some preparations.

Build Your File
A file contains all your important financial documents.  You will need it to secure financing for your property. The file should contain:

  • Financial statements
  • Bank accounts
  • Investments
  • Credit cards
  • Auto loans
  • Recent pay stubs
  • Tax returns for two years

Check your credit rating
Your credit score will have a huge impact on what type of home you can buy, and at what price. Anything above 620 is considered good. A premium interest rate may mean a lower interest rate on your mortgage. Check your credit rating with a credit reporting agency such as Equifax , Experian or Trans Union.

 

CHOOSE A REAL ESTATE AGENT

Buying a home
This process requires making many important financial decisions, understanding complex issues and completing a lot of paperwork. It helps to have an expert in your corner when undertaking such a large purchase. A Northstar Realty agent can guide you through the process, and also can get you access to listings before they hit the general market.

Here are some elements  to consider when selecting your real estate professional:

  • Look for a full-time agent
  • Interview a few agents
  • Ask how much time the agent will have for you, and if they will be available 24/7
  • Ask about their credentials and education
  • Ask for a list of properties they have sold or list of references
  • Pick an agent who listens attentively to your needs and concerns. Pick an agent, with whom you feel comfortable.

 

Time to Go Shopping

Once you’ve got those preparations out of the way, it’s time to find the home of your dreams.

Take a Drive
Get to know the neighborhoods you are interested in. Drive around and get a feel for what it would be like to live in the area. Start getting a sense of the properties available in those neighborhoods.

Narrow your activity
Select a few homes that interest you the most and have your Northstar agent make appointments to visit them. Ask us about the potential long term re-sale value of the homes you are considering.

Time to Buy
Once you’ve picked out the house you want to buy, your agent can help you make an offer that the seller will accept. Our agents will investigate the potential costs of maintenance and repairs on the house.

Be Careful With Your Finances
Don’t go on a spending spree using credit if you are thinking about buying a home, or in the process of buying a new home. Your mortgage pre-approval is subject to a final evaluation of your financial situation. Even if you have accumulated enough savings, you should consider not making any large purchases until after closing. The last thing you want is to know that you could have purchased a new home had you curbed the urge to spend.
 

ESCROW INSPECTION AND APPRAISAL

Closing Agent
You will need to choice a title company which acts as a neutral third party holding all instruments necessary to the sale, including funds and deed. The title company will research the complete recorded history of the home, to insure that the title is free and clear of encumbrances by the date of closing and that all new encumbrances are properly added to the title. Some homes are subject to restrictions which limit various activities from building to parking restrictions. There may be recorded privileges and violations, where others have limited rights to use your property.

How to Hold Title
You may wish to consult with an attorney or tax Advisor on the best way to hold title. Different methods of holding title have different legal, estate and tax implications, especially when selling or upon death of the title holder.

Inspection
Once your offer is accepted by the seller, you’ll need to have professional inspectors evaluate your home’s major systems. Our agents may recommend other inspections, such as roof, chimney/fireplace, property boundary survey, well, septic, pool/spa, or mold.

Appraisal and Lending
Keep in close communication with your lender, who will let you know when additional documents are needed to approve your loan application and fund your loan. The lender will often send an appraiser out to the home and you may pay a fee for this service. Appraisers are specialists in determining the value of properties, based on a combination of square footage measurements, building costs, and recent sales of comparable properties. When you are within two weeks of closing, double check with your lender to be sure the loan will go through smoothly and on time.

 

MOVING IN

The hardest part is behind you, but there are a few more steps before you can move in to your new dream home.

Final Walk-through Inspection
A few days before you take over the home, we’ll do one last inspection to make sure everything is in order, also that everything is the same as when you last viewed the home.

Utilities and Home Services
You will have to change the utilities and services of the house over to your name.  Our agents will assist in this process.

Closing Escrow
When your transaction is nearly completed, the title company will supply you with a “closing statement” that details all of the financial details of your home purchase. We will go over this with you to ensure its accuracy. At the last step in the buying process, the title company will have you sign the final documents, including loan documents (“deeds of trust”). When everything is complete, the title company will record the transaction for you at the County Assessor’s Office, and you will become the official new owner.