Buying or selling a house in Florida can be a complicated process. For the average American the idea of purchasing their own home, in their lifetime is the most significant goal. It becomes the primary influence and motivation for how they conduct their business, financial, and personal lives.
It is essential before considering buying a property that the buyer is familiar with the home buying process. The less risk involved, the more profitable the transaction will be. So where do you start? How do you ensure a successful property purchase?

➔ Step One- Find a Reliable Realtor

Finding the right agent is the most important step you can take. Your agent will not just handle all the complex procedures and legalities involved with the purchase, they also provide their expertise; knowledge of costs, communities, local property values, market trends and of course the average home prices.
Working with a real estate agent has many benefits, the agent can help you locate other professionals to assist in the home buying process, including mortgage brokers, home inspectors and appraisers. Some buyers make the unfortunate mistake of working alone, their inexperience costs them thousands of dollars. Keep in mind that working with a real estate agent doesn't cost you anything. The seller usually pays the entire real estate commission.

➔ Step Two- Search Properties

Before a prospective homeowner can begin the quest towards searching for a home, there are many factors to consider. The size of your family, based on your income and assets- what kind of home can you afford? For some home buyers, living in a specific neighborhood takes precedence above all else, whereas for others, the home itself is more important.
Make a list of the features you desire in a home like- the number of bedrooms and bedrooms, a large yard, updated appliances, a garage, pool etc.- then rank them in terms of priorities. Decide what criteria matters more to you. These decisions need to be made before beginning the search for your new home. The more you will look at, you will become more informed about price points and what really is in your budget. When searching online be prepared to listen to your realtor’s feedback and advice, as they are the expert and has the experience to know if something is too good to be true, overpriced, or not the right location for your needs. Once you’ve found some listings which may work for you, we recommend making time to check them out in person. In Florida you have the option of attending open houses, or your realtor can book private showing appointments with the listing realtor on your behalf.

➔ Step Three- Make an Offer

Once you’ve found the property of your dreams and read through the Seller’s Disclosure (where the homeowner discloses any known issues with the property), make a strong offer, quickly and be ready to negotiate. In Florida this is done with a formal contract that lays out the specific requirements and terms on the part of the buyer and seller. Some realtors may approach the seller’s realtor first with an oral offer, to see how the other party responds. However most realtors submit all offers in writing. The offers that come in writing are generally considered more serious. Usually, most buyers hear back within a couple days or so, in most cases the seller will let you know if the offer was accepted or declined, this is where the negotiation begins. You can bide your time at this point and gamble on seeing what happens, or increase your offer hoping to secure the property immediately. Your agent will assist you every step of the way, from drafting your written offer, negotiating with the seller on price as well as other key terms to coordinating the escrow process and house closing.

➔ Step Four- Contracts

When your offer is accepted it definitely ranks as one of the most exciting moments in the home buying process. Don’t get too excited, in the fact there are still many steps in the due diligence stage which may uncover issues or problems on either side. To prevent any issues that could arise in the future you must follow the protocol and complete the following inspections-
- Property Appraisal:​ The buyer’s lender will have a licensed appraiser visit the property and provide an appraisal of its value.
- Title Insurance:​ It is the seller’s responsibility to provide ​title insurance​ to the buyer. A title commitment that reflects the ownership of the home according to the public record and lists any liens against the home. The title commitment will also list the requirements for the issuance of final title insurance for the property.
- Inspection:​ The buyer is responsible for having an inspection done of the property to check for any insect or other damage and ensure everything is in good working order.
- Property Survey:​ A real estate surveyor is engaged to survey the property to ensure the accuracy of the property description and that there are no easements or encroachments that may adversely impact the value of the property.
- Insurance:​ Florida lenders may require buyers to purchase flood, wind and hazard insurance for the property, depending on where the property is located.
After completion, if you haven’t already put down earnest money you will be expected to do so when signing the contract. Always be aware that earnest money could be at risk if the seller does everything required to by contract and you do not. Depending on the terms set out in the contract, you’ll put down the remaining deposit for the property. Then it’s time to begin checking off the contingencies set out in your contract, which is where the skill of your realtor becomes prevalent. They will take the lead in managing the transaction. Your title company may also be involved in working with associations, insurance, surveyors, and more. However, you need to be clear on who is handling what documents to avoid missing essential items, and confusion with vendors. All loan documents, insurances, and due diligence items must be sent to the lender as soon as possible in order to get underwriting conditions cleared and prepare all closing documents.

➔ Step Five- Closing

Real estate closings have become simple today. In some cases there may still be a physical closing at the title company office if both parties- the seller and the buyers are local. You will attend a closing meeting with your realtor. You’ll go through all required contracts, documents and sign all the necessary paperwork. The final step is to transfer all funds from escrow, you will then receive your keys. A big congratulations is in order, finally you are a Florida homeowner!
Buying your first time can be an intimidating experience, if you follow our recommendations you will be thoroughly prepared. You will enjoy a seamless, exciting process to home ownership.