So, you’re considering buying a house in Tampa, or are ready to take the plunge?
First of all, congratulations! Whether you’re a renter who is prepared to leap into homeownership or an existing homeowner prepared to move into a new home, the process of buying a home should be exciting.
That’s why I've gathered all the information you need to be informed about what to expect in the buying process.
With these nine steps to buying a house in Tampa, you’ll be educated on the process so you can enjoy a smooth, happy transition into your new home.
What Should I Know Before I Start the Process of Buying a New Home?
Before we get into the home buying process, it’s essential to go over some prerequisites you need before looking for a new home.
It’s not guaranteed that the process of buying a home will be without its ups and downs, even if you step into the process fully prepared.
But, there are some things you can do to set yourself up for success.
The best way to ensure your quest for a new home is as easy as possible, is to fully understand your financial status before you begin.
When it comes to buying a home, there’s more to your financial status than merely knowing how much money is in the bank.
You need to start by sitting down with your financials. Make a list of your finances, including the available balance for all your bank accounts, what you have in savings, your weekly income, and your current expenses. This serves as the blueprint for your budget.
Once you’ve gathered all that information, it’s time to create a budget for buying a new home.
Here are some things to consider:
- What current expenses will roll over into the monthly costs in your new home?
- Do you anticipate new expenses that you'll incur when you buy a home? For example, if you currently rent, you won’t have property taxes and home insurance to pay.
- Does your new home come with HOA or CDD fees?
- Are there any repairs that will need to be done out of your pocket?
- What regular home maintenance costs will arise that you didn’t have as a renter? For example, lawn maintenance and snow removal costs.
- If you have new home maintenance costs, like snow removal or lawn maintenance, will you hire someone? You’ll need to consider purchasing appropriate equipment if you don’t already have it.
- What investments do you plan on making in your new home? For example, you might consider putting in an alarm system, remote garage doors, a sprinkler system, or other amenities that aren’t already included.
Once you have a clear understanding of the expenses beyond your mortgage and interest, you can come up with a price point you can afford.
Most lenders don’t have all this information handy, so it’s vital to allocate potential expenses in advance.
This will help you create a budget that is comfortable for your family and your unique financial situation.
9 Steps for Buying a House in Tampa
Now that you have a clear understanding of your financial situation, it’s time to start the home buying process.
These nine steps to buying a house in Tampa give you a general idea of what to expect.
1. Determine What You Can Afford
As mentioned earlier, there’s a lot that goes into budgeting for a new home.
It would be best to lay out your expenses and your projected monthly income before you determine what you can afford. When it comes to your mortgage payment, it’s better to be safe than sorry.
If you can afford a $300,000 home, you might still want to look for something a little less expensive.
2. Get Pre-Approved for buying a home
The next step for buying a house in Tampa is to get pre-approved. If you are still unclear on what you can afford, your lender can help you find a bottom line.
They will tell you what you qualify for, but this is just preliminary.
To get pre-approved, you’ll need to find a lender and reach out. If you don’t already have someone in mind, your real estate agent can suggest someone they’ve worked with previously.
The mortgage lender will pull your credit and go over the financials you gathered before starting the process.
There are several reasons why it’s crucial to get pre-approved:
- You know exactly what price point your mortgage lender will cap you off at and how you qualify.
- When you see a home you like, you are ready to make an offer immediately.
- Listing agents and homeowners selling their property like to know you are serious about your offer and are pre-approved for a loan.
- You can take the next step in the home buying process on your own time, when you want to take it.
You won’t need to be pre-approved if you pay in cash, but you will need to show proof of funds.
3. Gather Your Down Payment
How much you put down on the house also holds a lot of weight regarding getting the final approval for your mortgage.
So, the next step in buying a house in Tampa is to gather your down payment.
If you can afford it, it’s best to put 20% of the sales price down at the closing.
This will eliminate the need to pay PMI, which is mortgage insurance. Having a down payment of 20% is a great way to save some money with the PMI.
However, not having a 20% down payment does not mean you cannot buy a house. There are plenty of down payment assistance programs that can help with that.
Moreover, you’ll also need to have anywhere from 2-5% of the purchase price allocated for closing costs.
Uncover down payment money!
4. Start the Home Search Process
Now that you’ve gotten the tedious tasks out of the way, it’s time for the exciting part of buying a home in Tampa.
You’re ready to start the home search process.
If you have a realtor in mind, you can call on them to help with the search. If not, you can quickly start this part of the process on your own.
When you’re looking for a home, it’s easy to get carried away with all the wish list items you have for your dream home. But when it comes time to look, try to narrow down your search before going out house hunting.
What are the most critical things on your list of requirements?
Pick two to three deal-breakers to focus on, but be open-minded with some of your other hopes for your new home.
- Are you looking for the perfect neighborhood?
- Do you need to be in a great school district?
- How many bedrooms do you require?
- Do you need a certain number of bathrooms to accommodate your family?
Once you start looking, you’ll find that several homes check the boxes, but you still need to be flexible.
If you can lock in your non-negotiables, you are ahead of the game.
If not, determine where you can give a little to get yourself into a home when you’re ready.
Once you have a list of two to three houses you like, see them in person.
There can be a big difference between how you feel about a home from pictures and how you feel when you walk through the doors.
5. Make an Offer
When you’ve found a home you want, the next step to buying a house in Tampa is to make an offer! Your real estate agent will do most of the work here.
They’ll draw up the official paperwork to submit an offer to the person selling the property.
Thanks to technology, a lot of this can be done electronically.
Once the listing agent gets your offer, several things can happen. The seller can:
- Accept your offer.
- Reject your offer altogether and not counter.
- Counter and negotiate a higher price.
If the seller accepts your offer, you move to the “under contract” status. Should they reject it altogether, you can come back with a higher offer. Finally, if they want to negotiate, you can walk away or start talking numbers.
6. Make an Earnest Deposit
For the sake of this post, let’s say the seller accepted your offer.
The next step is to make an earnest deposit.
This tells the seller that you are serious and keeps you moving towards making that home your own.
To make an earnest deposit, you’ll need to make a check payable to the title company.
They will hold that money in escrow until everything goes through when it’s put towards your deposit.
The earnest deposit is generally 1%. Your real estate agent will keep your best interest in mind and get you the least amount required to keep your risk at a minimum.
The earnest deposit is conditionally refundable.
Here are some reasons you might get your money back:
- Financing doesn’t go through.
- The inspection fails, and you walk away.
7. Have a Home Inspection
The next step to buying a house in Tampa is the home inspection. Once you’ve made your escrow payment, you enter the inspection period.
This is defined in the contract but generally falls between 10-15 days from when you make your earnest deposit. During this time, you’ll want to hire a home inspector.
They will go through the property to check for several things. Some things they look for are:
- Roof leaks
- HVAC system problems
- Appliance issues
Once they’ve gone through everything in the home, they will provide you with a full report on the property. Depending on the house’s square footage, an inspector can cost anywhere from $350-$500.
As soon as your home inspection report comes back, you’ll be able to see if there are things that you feel the seller should fix on their end.
When you hire a good and experienced real estate agent, this is where they will jump in and get you the most for your money. If the inspection report comes back with issues that you don’t want to address, it’s at this point that you can back out and get your earnest deposit back.
It’s imperative to inspect during the dedicated inspection period, so you don’t face a penalty and lose money if you walk away.
8. Wait for an Appraisal
Assuming you’re ready to move forward from the inspection, the next step to buying a house is for the lender to order an appraisal.
The appraiser will check the neighborhood, have a look at the home, and make sure the price you’re about to pay is at fair market value.
The appraisal can produce one of three outcomes. It comes in:
- At market value.
- Above market value, which earns you instant equity.
- Below market value.
If the appraisal comes in below market value, your lender will have a problem with this.
For example, the bank will not loan you $300,000 if the house is only worth $275,000. In this case, your real estate agent often goes back to the seller and comes down on the price. If they don’t, you can walk away from the original offer.
9. Prepare for the Closing
Now, you are in the home stretch. At this point, you should start preparing to move.
Here are some things to consider during the closing process:
- Look for home insurance and take out a home insurance policy.
- Contact local utility companies.
- If you’re renting, let your landlord know that you’re going to move.
- Start packing.
- Hire a moving company.
- Get in touch with local school systems if you have children who will need to change school districts.
- Go to your bank before the closing to have a check prepared for closing day.
- Have all necessary documents requested by your mortgage lender.
When you come to the closing table, you can expect to sign a lot of documents. It could take up to two hours to get everything done. But once you sign that final document, it will all be worth it!
You’ll get the keys to the house and be on your way to your first night in your new home.
If you’re interested in buying a house in Tampa, make sure you work with someone who can streamline the process.
Be an educated and informed buyer.
Make sure you get the most for your money, and you’re moving into a home that you genuinely love.
Remember, buying a house is a long-term commitment.
Find a great real estate agent to help answer any questions you have before making your final decision.
And don’t forget to invite your real estate agent to your house warming party! We always bring great gifts!
If you have any questions or comments, you can trust me as the knowledgeable real estate agent who works for YOU!
Be sure to check out my YouTube channel covering the most common questions for buying a house in Tampa!
Good luck on your home search, and congratulations on taking the right steps to secure your dream home in the Tampa area!