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
$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
St Petersburg
$279,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,600 Sqr Feet
Come see this Beautiful 4 Bedroom/2 Bath/2 Car Garage/ POOL HOME in the Pinellas Point Skyview Shores Neighborhood. This Home offers a Split Floor Plan with an Open Remodeled Kitchen overlooking a large pool area. Large in-ground, solar heated pool is all screened in with a large covered patio area
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$269,500, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,230 Sqr Feet
You MUST SEE this immaculate, ready to move-in home that is located in a stellar location just moments from exciting Downtown St Petersburg to the east and the beautiful sandy shores of the Gulf Beaches to the west. This 3 bedroom home boasts a wonderful backyard with a screened-in lanai and a spar
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$269,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 855 Sqr Feet
Absolutely charming bungalow nestled between Crescent Lake and the vibrant downtown St. Petersburg. The craftsmanship is incredible in this beautiful 3 bedroom and 1 bathroom home. From the original hardwood floors, 5-panel craftsman styled doors & trim, to the period bathroom with pedestal si
$259,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,348 Sqr Feet
Completely remodeled, gorgeous home centrally located in Largo. 3-bedroom, 2 bath, 1 car oversized garage featuring an open-floor plan, great room with vaulted ceilings and a spacious remodeled kitchen featuring soft close kitchen drawers & cabinets, stainless steel appliances, Moen fixtures, garbag
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
$252,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,688 Sqr Feet
Welcome to this charming mid century home on a quiet block with a nice size yard. Featuring bright and open floor plan, master suite, brand new roof, and one new AC. New carpet, tile flooring, polished terrazzo floors, and paint. The kitchen boasts granite countertops, white cabinets, and new applia
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
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
$245,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,554 Sqr Feet
Spacious 3 bedroom 2 bath home with fenced in yard and covered parking. Oversized master suite with walk-in closet, brand new carpeting, and french doors. Kitchen open to large family room that looks out on private yard through another set of french doors. Split floor plan, dedicated laundry room, e
$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,763 Sqr Feet
Move-in ready mid-century modern ranch-style gem with a full-size extra lot in the heart of Gulfport! Use the extra lot for a pool, garage, in-law home, RV/boat storage, playground for kids and/or dogs, or subdivide it for sale! This home’s layout also allows for multiple uses and configuration
St Petersburg
$239,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,542 Sqr Feet
ATTENTION INVESTORS AND DIYers!! This home needs some work as previous occupant took out some walls and did not finish with their remodel plans. Easy fix to reinstall drywall, or continue with the remodel...owner has architectural plans available. Good size rooms with beautiful tile throughout. K
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
St Petersburg
$235,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,197 Sqr Feet
Making your life happen in this 2/1/1 with Den and Florida Room is easy because there is space for everything! The floor plan layout offers each area to function on its own or harmoniously with the rest of the house. Glass French doors to the den offer an architectural detail to the living room. Hav
$234,899, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,290 Sqr Feet
This home is immaculate and everything is new-kitchen, flooring, paint, new sod. Attention to detail is remarkable-Beautiful fireplace with built ins and a granite mantel. Dream kitchen with large island, vaulted ceilings and stainless steel appliances-perfect for entertaining. Both bathrooms have b
$229,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,082 Sqr Feet
Don't miss this cute ranch home with durable vinyl flooring throughout. Floor plan sets up nicely between kitchen, living, dining and bedrooms. Home will be sold as-is, buyer is welcome to perform inspections, no known issues at time of listing.
St Petersburg
$229,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,475 Sqr Feet
Central Oak park neighborhood mid century modern 3 bedrooms 2 bathrooms with carport. Convenient to downtown St Petersburg and the area beaches. Very private enclosed home with vegetation and parklike setting. Meditation area in backyard and private enough for a hot tub in your front yard. Home is
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.
$219,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,316 Sqr Feet
This property is perfect for either a growing family or an investment home. This 3 bedroom/2 bath/2 car garage fixer-upper home has an open floor plan, which brings the family together, as well as a split bedroom plan. You will like the open floor plan, the kitchen opens to the large living/dining
St Petersburg
$219,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,145 Sqr Feet
Central Oak Park neighborhood bungalow with amazing potential. Block constructed home with 3 bedrooms 1 bathroom with hardwood floors and ceramic tile. Oversized 2 car garage and extra workshop for the home mechanic, woodworker and contractor. Home is on a DOUBLE corner lot and fenced. Alley acce
St Petersburg
$209,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 960 Sqr Feet
Freshly painted inside and out, this charming Garden Manor home is fully updated, move in ready and ready for you! Featuring wonderful curb appeal and high ceilings that provide a sense of openness and space, there is plenty of extra parking for your boat or RV and a carport with enclosed utility a
St Petersburg
$209,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,578 Sqr Feet
Buy this 3 Bedroom, 2 Bath, 1 car garage Pool home in beautiful Eagle Crest neighborhood and do the cosmetic updates yourself! These big ticket items have been completed. Roof and HVAC installed in 2014! Hot water heater in 2018! Pool pump in 2018! Windows have been updated! Fenced backyard with i
$208,500, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 974 Sqr Feet
Come see this well-maintained 3 bed, 2 bath home. Great curb appeal with brand new exterior paint. UPGRADED KITCHEN, solid wood cabinetry and a perfect amount of higher tier granite countertops with beautiful backsplash. Brand new stainless steel appliances. Tile floor throughout, laminate in bedroo
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
St Petersburg
$195,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,254 Sqr Feet
***DO NOT MISS ONE!!*** With a little TLC turn this home into a dream. 3/2 with huge bonus room/den situated on a double lot (lot being separated by owner and sold separately in another listing). Enter the living area to the left master bedroom and 2nd bedroom a full bath and hall closet. Tons of st
$191,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 888 Sqr Feet
One or more photo(s) has been virtually staged. ~~Tropical Oasis GULFPORT Bungalow - Move in Ready~~ You'll love this adorable 2 bedroom, 1 bath home that has a huge yard for entertaining, pets, and privacy. This lovely home has been opened up to enhance the updated kitchen that leads to an enclose
St Petersburg
$189,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 960 Sqr Feet
Wonderful Home Featuring 3 Bedrooms, 2 Bathrooms, Updated Kitchen with Granite Countertops and all appliances included. Updates include New Flooring (2019), AC (2018), Roof (2015) & Double Insulated Windows with Plantation Shutters! Not only does this house have Stunning Curb Appeal, but it's also c
St Petersburg
$179,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 821 Sqr Feet
You will love the charm of this 2 bedroom Bungalow with an open floor plan and hardwood floors!! There are lots of updates too!! The roof and HVAC were installed in 2012, the kitchen is updated with white cabinets and granite countertops! There are updated windows and an updated electrical box!!