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!


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$300,000, 4 Beds, 2 Baths, 2,033 Sqr Feet
ready to move home in the desirable Rose Garden subdivision just blocks from Pinellas Trail, Boca Ciega Bay, Azalea Park, St Petersburg College & and Jungle Prada boat ramp. Very close to Tyrone Mall and less than 3 miles from famous Treasure Island Beach. The home offers large master bedroom with s
$299,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,958 Sqr Feet
An absolutely elegant 3 bedroom, 2 bathroom single family home located on a quiet street with the Seminole Bypass Canal providing peaceful water views in the rear with a nature preserve on the other side of the canal. Beautifully upgraded kitchen and master bath featuring real hardwood floors, cus
$299,900, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,116 Sqr Feet
This Kenwood bungalow has charming and cozy written all over it! As you walk into the front door, you'll admire the historic character that this home boasts throughout. From the wood-burning fireplace to the coffered ceilings, this beauty truly has the Historic Kenwood look and feel. The natural lig
$299,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,348 Sqr Feet
Welcome Home to this beautifully updated 3 Bedroom 2.5 Bath POOL home! Relax in your own personal backyard oasis with large in ground pool, Cabana, fenced in yard, lush landscaping, outdoor shower with bathroom attached, and still enough yard for your kiddos and or pets. Either way you enter the hom
$299,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,632 Sqr Feet
Great Maximo area. Close to the beach & close to the 275 to Sarasota, or St Pete, Tampa. Close to shopping and marina's for your boating pleasure. 3 Br Room 2 bath split plan with Family Room. 2 car Garage.
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,164 Sqr Feet
This updated home offers pride of ownership and peace of mind for it's next owner. This home boasts a brand new kitchen featuring granite countertops with stainless steel appliances and soft-close cabinets and drawers. The split floor plan provides space for comfortable living. Looking to entertain?
$275,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,478 Sqr Feet
Location.Location.Location. You will love this centrally located home. This 3bed/2bath/2CG home is located on a large corner lot. Enjoy the beautiful fall weather under your covered front porch. As you walk in, you will see the new grey laminate floors throughout with freshly painted walls. The form
$265,000, 4 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,400 Sqr Feet
One or more photo(s) has been virtually staged. Cute as a button in an AMAZING location! Come home to this Immaculate, Move in ready 4 bedroom BLOCK home that has been well taken cared of by current owner for many years. Located in the heart of St Pete, in The Desirable and Popular Shore Acres Subdi
$264,999, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,125 Sqr Feet
Here is Your Chance to Own a Completely Restored Single Story Home in St Petersburg's Coveted North Kenwood District Without Having to Break the Bank! This Three (3) Bedroom, One (1) Bathroom, Single Family Home with Inside Laundry has been Renovated from Top to Bottom, Boasting a Brand New Dimensio
$255,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,399 Sqr Feet
Come check out this beautifully remodeled residence located just off of MLK Jr St S for quick access to the highway and downtown St Pete! This place offers an open floor plan with generously sized living areas and bedrooms. This is a COMPLETE rehab! New granite countertops and 42" shaker style cabi
$250,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,252 Sqr Feet
NON-FLOOD, NON-EVACUTION ZONES! Prime location! Come see this updated 3/2/2 home centrally located in desirable EAGLE CREST. Over 1250+ sq. ft. of FLORIDA LIVING at it’s Finest. As you approach this GEM you will notice the ample parking and covered front porch. Inside you will love the CHERRY
$239,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,117 Sqr Feet
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$235,900, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,025 Sqr Feet
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$229,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,478 Sqr Feet
BEAUTIFUL, QUIET, BAY VISTA NEIGHBORHOOD: This solid block home offers 1478 sqft of spacious of living! UPDATES include: 2019: Stove; 2018: CHA: 3 Ton Handler/Compressor/Ductwork; Bath by Kitchen: Remodeled; 2017: Garage Front Door, Water Heater, Electric Panel, Refrigerator, Exterior paint, East/W
$229,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,124 Sqr Feet
If you are looking for a home that makes you feel like you are living in a resort, THIS FANTASTIC POOL HOME IS YOUR NEW HOME. This custom built 2006 home is built on an OVER-SIZED LOT...This MOVE IN READY home has 3 bedrooms, 2 baths with 1 car garage POOL HOME will turn your head. As you enter you
$205,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,244 Sqr Feet
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$204,900, 4 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,404 Sqr Feet
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$199,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,100 Sqr Feet
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$199,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,023 Sqr Feet
This is your opportunity to own a completely updated and remodeled home in St. Petersburg just minutes from the downtown waterfront. As you enter the two bedroom, one bath, block home you will note the immense attention to detail given to each feature. The home highlights new laminate and tile fl
$196,500, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,000 Sqr Feet
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$189,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,315 Sqr Feet
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$188,000, 2 Beds, 2 Baths, 1,314 Sqr Feet
Jungle Terrace opportunity. A 2bd 2 bath with solid bones. With a little updating and TLC this could be your dream home. The hard work has been done. The kitchen was remodeled in 2015 with Quartz countertops,Solid wood cabinets and GE Adora appliances. The Hvac was replaced in 2011 and has been main
$184,500, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 993 Sqr Feet
A NEW home for Christmas!!! North St.Pete Cutie Patootie on a large lot in a superb location! Brand New Stainless appliances! NO FLOOD INSURANCE required. Huge fully fenced yard for the kiddos or the dogs! Roof is less than 4 years old, and some windows have been replaced. Minutes to shopping and al
$179,000, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,260 Sqr Feet
Recently remodeled 3 bedroom block home in Largo for under 180K!!!. The house welcomes you with a screened porch to enjoy relaxing evenings. Step into the living room, featuring brand new tile flooring and a beautiful decorative fire place. The kitchen has a convenient and ample eating area. The roo
$175,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 768 Sqr Feet
You don’t want to miss this super cute, adorable move in ready home! This charming bungalow features solid block construction and a newer roof (2015) new HVAC (2019) newer electric panel and newer hot water heater. The light bright and open floor plan will welcome you from the moment you enter, wi
$150,000, 2 Beds, 1 Baths, 816 Sqr Feet
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$149,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,092 Sqr Feet
This house is a must see. It features a NEW ROOF, NEW CENTRAL HEAT AND AIR, NEW KITCHEN, FLOORING, even the plumbing has been updated. This house is perfect for someone who doesn't want to do anything at all except move right in and start living life. Close to it all. You can hop on the highway
$145,000, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 2,072 Sqr Feet
PERFECT FIXER UPPER!!! Charming, SPACIOUS! Classic 1920's bungalow's curb appeal! 2,072 square feet! House has a additional building behind main home. 3 bedrooms with a bonus room that can be another bedroom and 2.5 bath. The in law suit building behind main home is perfect for a rental and ready to
$144,900, 3 Beds, 2 Baths, 848 Sqr Feet
If your looking to be close to GULF PORT and the beautiful environment of this city. Look no further. You are minutes from the PASADENA YACHT AND COUNTRY CLUB. 5 mins from the GULF PORT marina basically minutes from the water without the need for flood insurance. You can hit BEACH BLVD S in le
$144,900, 3 Beds, 1 Baths, 1,040 Sqr Feet
Great property in an quiet neighborhood. Bring your golf clubs and hit the course at TWIN BROOKS GULF COURSE because is right down the street on the next block. You can also hop on the highway and you are minutes from downtown St Petersburg. If you head in the other direction only a short drive t