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Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Florida real estate market has been one of the most competitive in the country. As more people move to the sunbelt, competition for homes has gone up; making homes more expensive and the buying process all-around more competitive than experts have ever seen before. A recent report quoted that Florida is currently the least affordable place to live because of the increase in the cost of housing. However, it’s not all bad news. If you’re looking to buy a house in Florida, follow our pro tips and speak with one of our agents to get started on the process. 

Have Your Finances in Order

As you look for your next home, you’ll want to make sure you have your finances in order. When putting in an offer on a home these days, you want to move as quickly as possible. Preparing your finances ahead of time can ensure you’re equipped to make an offer as quickly as possible once a property you’re interested in hits the market. Some of this competition is a result of corporations buying houses with all-cash offers and no contingencies. This can be difficult to compete against, but getting your offer in ahead of time can only help. You’ll also want to make sure you get your mortgage pre-approved so you’re only looking at homes within your budget and can make the most informed offer when competing for a home. It might be best to look at properties under budget as well because some are going into bidding wars which raise the price over the sticker cost. This can be a good strategy to help you find your dream home, that’s within your budget. 

Be sure to budget for other costs as well. This includes everything you’ll need in cash, like a down payment, closing costs, taxes, and insurance fees. You might not be able to rely on your mortgage for those types of payments, so pay close attention to any of those details when looking at a house.

Search Far and Wide

With this competitive market, the more houses you look at the better. It’s also important for you to try to keep an open mind when looking at houses. Before beginning your search, sit down with your agent and give them your “must-have” list, such as a yard for a dog, a good school district for children, or a close-by beach. Be realistic about how many must-haves you put on the list. It can also help your agent if you list them in order of importance so they know what to prioritize during their search. Considering how quickly houses are going on and off the market, it might be best to take a few days off of work to look at places and get any offers in. Check out new and developing areas with new builds going in, as well as older neighborhoods where families might be moving out to downsize or for a more appropriate age in place home. 

Some of the houses you find might need more work than others before you can confidently move in and call it your dream home. Don’t stray away from these projects because they could have less competition and even a cheaper cost. However, make sure there’s room in your budget to both purchase the home and do the renovations you need to make it move-in ready. Additionally, make sure you follow through with your inspection to make sure the house is safe and you won’t run into any surprises during your renovation.

Do Your Research

As with any investment, make sure you do your research before jumping all in. While it can be unwise to wait for the market to change if you recently made other investments such as a personal loan or buying a car you should consider paying down some of that debt before applying for a mortgage. That way, your mortgage will have better terms for interest rates and a repayment plan. Keep a close eye on the trends in your area to make sure you’re buying at the right time. 

Other points of research will include checking out the neighborhood a potential house is in. Consider taking a walk through the neighborhood to check out how others keep their houses, if kids are playing outside and if there are any walkable features like nearby coffee shops or parks. Be sure to think about your must-have list here, and go visit on a day that there isn’t an open house to give you a more authentic feel of the area. When visiting the neighborhood you’ll also want to research the prices of the surrounding homes. If yours is drastically higher than the others this could be a red flag about your investment; it could mean your home value won’t appreciate much. As your home value will mimic those around you, and you want to make sure your investments are strong ones.

The process of buying a home can be exhausting right now, but that’s why you enlist the help of real estate professionals to help you navigate it and end up in your dream home. Stay patient and trust that at the end of your home buying journey it’ll all work out the way it’s supposed to.