Buying A Home
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1st Time Home Purchasing

Hello, I have never purchased a home before and do not have much knowledge on how to go about doing that. I have looked at Craigslist for my city and have recently learned about short sales. I want to make the best decisions possible, and was wondering if anyone could point me to any first time home buying resources, or could give me step by step information as to the process to buy a house. I currently reside in Florida. Thank you.

Re: 1st Time Home Purchasing

  • I'd advise going and finding a first time home buyers class.  I'm not in Florida, but around here there are a couple banks that do them as well as some local government office.  I would think if you Google for the name of your city and first time home buyer, something should come up.

    Not to scare you off, but here's a list of things to consider:

    • Don't try to buy the most expensive house you can afford.  Make sure you have room in your budget for unexpected things, car payments, living life, etc.
    • Try to save up as much of a down payment as you can.
    • Make sure you have a good size emergency fund.  I'm assuming you're renting now.  Think about all the things your landlord currently takes care of.  Those will be your responsibility now.  New roof?  Replacing the hvac?  Broken hot water heater?
    • Make sure to get a good home inspection.  While these don't always catch everything, they can help prevent you buying a money pit.  Especially do this with foreclosures and short sales.  Some people get vindictive toward the banks and sabotage the house before moving out.
    • Call your bank (or several) and get pre-qualified/pre-approved for a mortgage.  Find out how much they'll let you borrow.  You don't want to be looking at $300k houses only to find out the bank will only loan you $100k.


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  • Read the book "Home Buying for Dummies." It's a great jumping off place to get your head around it and the process.
    short+sassy
  • I agree with everything that pp said. Short sales can be great deals, but you need to have time on your side. Those can sometimes take several months to go through, and that's before the offer is even accepted. So I you have to move out of your current home by a certain time, short sale can be a difficult route to go.

    Also think long term, because chances are you will live in this house longer then you think you will. Is this a home that can grow with you. If you have kids in the next few years, would the home have space to accommodate it? Depending on your age, also figure, is this a home I can get old in? Having a big yard is nice, but do you have the time to maintain it or even really want to do the work of maintaining it.

    Remember, paint & wall paper can always be changed out. Light fixtures are also a somewhat easy & cheap change out. The big things are to think what type of things are important to you (garage, storage, pool, yard, etc) and when going through a home, to take into account the layout of the home. Does it have a flow that will work for you.

    And with you being in florida, maybe talk to an insurance agent to find out what type of things to look for to help you get a better home insurance rate. With the type of weather you have there, certain safety features or locations to water (flooding concerns) could make a big difference price wise.

    Last thing, take into consideration location for work & to friends. Once you find an area you like, drive to that one day on your way home from work to see what the commute is like. We looked at a few homes that were near our work, but then we would have had a long commute to our family, friends and all the places we go to on a regular basis. So we decided it was more important to us to have a slightly longer commute and be close to everything else in our lives.

  • Lots of good advice already.  I also recommend a first time home buyer's class (I took one) and "Home Buying for Dummies".

    Craigs List is one resource for finding homes for sale but, by far, is not the best one.  CL will most typically have homes being sold by owners, whereas most homes are sold off the MLS (ie through realtors).  Most of your big realtor companies have websites that will allow you to set up a search and view all the homes for sale, within your search parameter, that are on the MLS.  Realtor.com is a decent one...but check out a few of them.  The houses they pull up will be the same, but the website layout, info included, and type of searches can vary greatly.

    Unfortunately, @Erikan73 makes a good point about insurance.  I live in NOLA...a hurricane capital just like many parts of FL...what I pay in two months for insurance is what most of the rest of the country pays for one year.  Once you find a house you want to put an offer in on, call a few insurance agents and they can give you an insurance quote.  Or, before that, ask around with local friends/family to at least get a ballpark idea.

    That mortgage payment you're stretching for might become totally out of reach if you have to tack on another $200-$400/month in insurance.

  • to go off what @short+sassy said, my sister had a home in cape cod, because of it's distance from the water, no homeowners insurance company would touch them due to "threat of hurricane" even thought the area doesn't have a history of suffering from hurricane damage. They had to go through the state assigned high risk pool and pay an crazy amount for homeowners insurance.  Which cost them a lot more then regular insurance. I think about $2000-$3000 more. I'm sure the fact that they had a historical home didn't help things either.

  • Erikan73 said:

    to go off what @short+sassy said, my sister had a home in cape cod, because of it's distance from the water, no homeowners insurance company would touch them due to "threat of hurricane" even thought the area doesn't have a history of suffering from hurricane damage. They had to go through the state assigned high risk pool and pay an crazy amount for homeowners insurance.  Which cost them a lot more then regular insurance. I think about $2000-$3000 more. I'm sure the fact that they had a historical home didn't help things either.

    Citizen's Insurance (shudder).  They are the "last resort" carrier.

    Though really, Citizen's Insurance isn't necessarily a lot more expensive than other insurance, it's just more that no one uses Citizen's Insurance unless they are in an area where it is hard to get coverage...but anyone's coverage is going to be extremely expensive.

    I had Citizen's the first year I owned my house and then switched to Lloyd's of London after that.  It is better coverage and cheaper...but not by that much.

  • I agree with all answers. I bought my first home from the home buying authority as they provide residential support,  homebuyer education, low downpayment & low-interest rate. Check with some them. It may help you. 
  • Erikan73 said:

    to go off what @short+sassy said, my sister had a home in cape cod, because of it's distance from the water, no homeowners insurance company would touch them due to "threat of hurricane" even thought the area doesn't have a history of suffering from hurricane damage. They had to go through the state assigned high risk pool and pay an crazy amount for homeowners insurance.  Which cost them a lot more then regular insurance. I think about $2000-$3000 more. I'm sure the fact that they had a historical home didn't help things either.

    Citizen's Insurance (shudder).  They are the "last resort" carrier.

    Though really, Citizen's Insurance isn't necessarily a lot more expensive than other insurance, it's just more that no one uses Citizen's Insurance unless they are in an area where it is hard to get coverage...but anyone's coverage is going to be extremely expensive.

    I had Citizen's the first year I owned my house and then switched to Lloyd's of London after that.  It is better coverage and cheaper...but not by that much.

    I'm confused, where did you hear no one gets Citizens unless they are in an area that is hard to get coverage? Are you talking about Louisiana? Citizen's Insurance, in Michigan, is top tier policy.

  • emily1004 said:
    Erikan73 said:

    to go off what @short+sassy said, my sister had a home in cape cod, because of it's distance from the water, no homeowners insurance company would touch them due to "threat of hurricane" even thought the area doesn't have a history of suffering from hurricane damage. They had to go through the state assigned high risk pool and pay an crazy amount for homeowners insurance.  Which cost them a lot more then regular insurance. I think about $2000-$3000 more. I'm sure the fact that they had a historical home didn't help things either.

    Citizen's Insurance (shudder).  They are the "last resort" carrier.

    Though really, Citizen's Insurance isn't necessarily a lot more expensive than other insurance, it's just more that no one uses Citizen's Insurance unless they are in an area where it is hard to get coverage...but anyone's coverage is going to be extremely expensive.

    I had Citizen's the first year I owned my house and then switched to Lloyd's of London after that.  It is better coverage and cheaper...but not by that much.

    I'm confused, where did you hear no one gets Citizens unless they are in an area that is hard to get coverage? Are you talking about Louisiana? Citizen's Insurance, in Michigan, is top tier policy.

    Oh!  I just meant no one would usually buy Citizens unless they had to.  Not that they couldn't.  But perhaps it is not the outrageous policy in other places that it is in NOLA.  I just assumed since they are the "last resort insurer" they will usually be one of, if not the worst, policy available.  That is very much the case where I live.

    Another bummer when you live in a "high risk" area is...not only will the rates be higher because of risk...but they are also higher because of lack of competition.  Only a handful of companies will write policies here.  In fact, State Farm....one of the biggest insurance companies out there...put a moratorium on writing new polices here like 15 years ago.

  • Def inquire about home buyers credits. First time home-buyers can qualify for certain credits & incentives.
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