Buying a Home
We have the best agents in Florida to guide you through the most important purchase of your life, and have collected some of the most comprehensive reports available to make sure that you are well informed. Feel free to browse, but know that we will take care of the details. It’s our job to make your home buying experience smooth and worry free.
Contact one of our agents today to set up a Buyer Counseling Session to determine your wants and needs and to educate you on the home buying process.
Click the links below for some really great information designed to help you in the home buying process.
Countrywide Realty Partners, LLC has a proven track record in successful real estate brokerage and is ready to assist you in all facets of brokerage services, including:
- Marketing - Inspections, showings and marketing of properties to promote their sale through professional brochures, newspapers, real estate publications, mass media and Internet.
- Offer Presentations - Present all offers and counter-offers in a timely manner, regardless of whether the properties are subject to a contract for sale.
- Showings - In addition to showcasing your properties, we’ll take reasonable precautions to prevent damage throughout the showing process.
- Closings - Fulfill requests for information from other agents or licensed real estate brokers and assist cooperating broker in closing any transactions on the properties.
10 Questions to Ask Your Lender
Be sure you find a loan that fits your needs with these comprehensive questions.
- What are the most popular mortgage loans you offer?
- Which type of mortgage plan do you think would be best for us? Why?
- Are your rates, terms, fees, and closing costs negotiable?
- Will I have to buy private mortgage insurance? If so how much will it cost and how long will it be required? NOTE: Private mortgage insurance usually is required if you make less than a 20 percent downpayment, but most lenders will let you discontinue the policy when you’ve acquired a certain amount of equity by paying down the loan.
- Who will service the loan? Your bank or another company?
- What escrow requirements do you have?
- How long is your loan lock-in period (the time that the quoted interest rate will be honored)? Will I be able to obtain a lower rate if they drop during this period?
- How long will the loan approval process take?
- How long will it take to close the loan?
- Are there any charges or penalties for prepaying the loan?
10 Steps To Prepare For Home Ownership
- Decide how much home you can afford. Generally, you can afford a home equal in value to between two and three times your gross income.
- Develop a wish list of what you’d like your home to have. Then prioritize the features on your list.
- Select three or four neighborhoods you’d like to live in. Consider items such as schools, recreational facilities, area expansion plans, and safety.
- Determine if you have enough saved to cover your downpayment and closing costs. Closing costs, including taxes, attorney’s fee, and transfer fees average between 2 percent and 7 percent of the home price.
- Get your credit in order. Obtain a copy of your credit report.
- Determine how large a mortgage you can qualify for. Also explore different loans options and decide what’s best for you.
- Organize all the documentation a lender will need to preapprove you for a loan.
- Do research to determine if you qualify for any special mortgage or downpayment-assistance programs.
- Calculate the costs of homeownership, including property taxes, insurance, maintenance, and association fees, if applicable.
- Find an experienced REALTOR® who can help you through the process
10 Things to Take the Trauma Out of Homebuying
- Find a real estate professional who’s simpatico. Home buying is not only a big financial commitment, but also an emotional one. It’s critical that the practitioner you choose is both skilled and a good fit with your personality.
- Remember, there’s no “right” time to buy, any more than there’s a right time to sell. If you find a home now, don’t try to second-guess the interest rates or the housing market by waiting. Changes don’t usually occur fast enough to make that much difference in price, and a good home won’t stay on the market long.
- Don’t ask for too many opinions. It’s natural to want reassurance for such a big decision, but too many ideas will make it much harder to make a decision.
- Accept that no house is ever perfect. Focus in on the things that are most important to you and let the minor ones go.
- Don’t try to be a killer negotiator. Negotiation is definitely a part of the real estate process, but trying to “win” by getting an extra-low price may lose you the home you love.
- Remember your home doesn’t exist in a vacuum. Don’t get so caught up in the physical aspects of the house itself—room size, kitchen—that you forget such issues as amenities, noise level, etc., that have a big impact on what it’s like to live in your new home.
- Don’t wait until you’ve found a home and made an offer to get approved for a mortgage, investigate insurance availability, and consider a schedule for moving. Presenting an offer contingent on a lot of unresolved issues will make your bid much less attractive to sellers.
- Factor in maintenance and repair costs in your post-homebuying budget. Even if you buy a new home, there will be some costs. Don’t leave yourself short and let your home deteriorate.
- Accept that a little buyer’s remorse is inevitable and will probably pass. Buying a home, especially for the first time, is a big commitment, but it also yields big benefits.
- Choose a home first because you love it; then think about appreciation. While U.S. homes have appreciated an average of 5.4 percent annually from 1998 to 2002, a home’s most important role is as a comfortable, safe place to live
10 Ways to Lower Your Homeowners Insurance Costs
- Raise your deductible. If you can afford to pay more toward a loss that occurs, your premiums will be lower.
- Buy your homeowners and auto policies from the same company. You’ll usually qualify for a discount. But make sure that the savings really yields the lowest price.
- Make your home less susceptible to damage. Keep roofs and drains in good repair. Retrofit your house to protect against natural disasters common to your area.
- Keep your home safer. Install smoke detectors, burglar alarms, and dead-bolt locks. All of these will usually qualify for a discount.
- Be sure you insure your house for the correct amount. Remember, you’re covering replacement cost, not market value.
- Ask about other discounts. For example, retirees who are home more than working people may qualify for a discount on theft insurance.
- Stay with the same insurer. Especially in today’s tight insurance market, your current vendor is more likely to give you a good price.
- See if you belong to any groups—associations, alumni groups—that offer lower insurance rates.
- Review your policy limits and the value of your home and possessions annually. Some items depreciate and may not need as much coverage.
- See if there’s a government-backed insurance plan. In some high-risk areas, such as the coasts, federal or state governments may back plans to lower rates. Ask your agent
5 Things to Understand About Title Insurance
- It protects your ownership right to your home both from fraudulent claims against your ownership and from mistakes made in earlier sales, such as mistake in the spelling of a person’s name or an inaccurate description of the property.
- It’s a one-time cost usually based on the price of the property.
- It’s usually paid for by the sellers.
- There are both lender title policies, which protect the lender, and owner title policies, which protect you. The lender will probably require a lender policy.
- Discounts on premiums are sometimes available if the home has been bought within only a few years since not as much work is required to check the title. Ask the title company if this discount is available.
Buying A Home – 5 Factors That Decide Your Credit Score
Credit scores range between 200 and 800. Scores above 620 are considered desirable for obtaining a mortgage. These factors will affect your score.
- Your payment history. Whether you paid credit card obligations on time.
- How much you owe. Owing a great deal of money on numerous accounts can indicate that you are overextended.
- The length of your credit history. In general, the longer the better.
- How much new credit you have. New credit, either installment payments or new credit cards, are considered more risky, even if you pay promptly.
- The types of credit you use. Generally, it’s desirable to have more than one type of credit—installment loans, credit cards, and a mortgage, for example.
For more on evaluating and understanding your credit score, go to http://www.myfico.com.
Buying A Home – 5 Reasons You Need A REALTOR®
- A real estate transaction is complicated. In most cases, buying or selling a home requires disclosure forms, inspection reports, mortgage documents, insurance policies, deeds, and multi-page government-mandated settlement statements. A knowledgeable guide through this complexity can help you avoid delays or costly mistakes.
- Selling or buying a home is time consuming. Homes in our area stay on the market for an average of 60-90 days. And it usually takes another 30 days or so for the transaction to close after an offer is accepted.
- Real estate has its own language. If you don’t know a CMA from a PUD, you can understand why it’s important to work with someone who speaks that language.
- REALTORS® have done it before. Most people buy and sell only a few homes in a lifetime, usually with quite a few years in between each purchase. And even if you’ve done it before, laws and regulations change. That’s why having an expert on your side is critical.
- REALTORS® provide objectivity. Since a home often symbolizes family, rest, and security, not just four walls and roof, homeselling or buying is often a very emotional undertaking. And for most people, a home is the biggest purchase they’ll ever make. Having a concerned, but objective, third party helps you keep focused on both the business and emotional issues most important to you.
- REALTORS® are members of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS®, a trade organization of more than 1 million members nationwide. REALTORS® subscribe to a stringent code of ethics that helps guarantee the highest level of service and integrity.
Buying A Home – 8 Steps To Getting Your Finances In Order
- Develop a family budget. Instead of budgeting what you’d like to spend, use receipts to create a budget for what you actually spent over the last six months. One advantage of this approach is that it factors in unexpected expenses, such as car repairs, illnesses, etc., as well as predictable costs such as rent.
- Reduce your debt. Generally speaking, lenders look for a total debt load of no more than 36 percent of income. Since this figure includes your mortgage, which typically ranges between 25 percent and 28 percent of income, you need to get the rest of installment debt—car loans, student loans, revolving balances on credit cards—down to between 8 percent and 10 percent of your total income.
- Get a handle on expenses. You probably know how much you spend on rent and utilities, but little expenses add up. Try writing down everything you spend for one month. You’ll probably see some great ways to save.
- Increase your income. It may be necessary to take on a second, part-time job to get your income at a high-enough level to qualify for the home you want.
- Save for a downpayment. Although it’s possible to get a mortgage with only 5 percent down—or even less in some cases—you can usually get a better rate and a lower overall cost if you put down more. Strive for saving a 20 percent downpayment.
- Create a house fund. Don’t just plan on saving whatever’s left toward a downpayment. Instead decide on a certain amount a month you want to save, then put it away as you pay your monthly bills.
- Keep your job. While you don’t need to be in the same job forever to qualify, having a job for less than two years may mean you have to pay a higher interest rate.
- Establish a good credit history. Get a credit card and make payments by the due date. Do the same for all your other bills. Pay off the entire balance promptly
Buying A Home – The Pros And Cons Of Condos
Condominiums and townhouses offer an affordable option to single-family homes in most areas. But consider these facts before you buy.
- Storage. Some condos have storage lockers, but usually there are no attics or basements to store belongings.
- Outdoor space. Yards and outdoor areas are usually smaller in condos, so if you like to garden or entertain outdoors, this may not be a good fit. However, if you hate yard work, this may be the perfect option for you.
- Amenities. Many condo properties have swimming pools, fitness centers, and other facilities that would be very expensive in a single-family home.
- Maintenance. Many condos have onsite maintenance personnel to care for common areas, do repairs in your unit, and let in workers when you’re not home.
- Security. Many condos have keyed entries and or even door attendants. Plus, you’ll be closer to other people in case of an emergency.
- Reserve funds and association fees. Although fees generally help pay for amenities and provide savings for future repairs, you will have to pay the fees agreed to by the condo board, whether or not you’re interested in the amenity or not.
- Resale. The ease of selling your unit is more dependent on what else is for sale in your building, since units are usually fairly similar. Single-family homes usually are more individual.
- Freedom. Although you have a vote, the rules of the condo association can affect your ability to use your property. For example, some condos prohibit home-based businesses. Others prohibit pets. Read the covenants, restrictions, and bylaws of the condo carefully before you make an offer.
- Proximity. You’re much closer to your neighbors in a condo or townhome. If possible, try to meet your closest prospective neighbors before making a decision.
Buying A Home – Tips For Finding The Perfect Neighborhood
The neighborhood you choose can have a big impact on your lifestyle—safety, available amenities, and convenience all play their part.
- Make a list of the activities—movies, health club, church—you engage in regularly and stores you visit frequently. See how far you would have to travel from each neighborhood you’re considering to engaging in your most common activities.
- Check out the school district. The Department of Education in your town can probably provide information on test scores, class size, percentage of students who attend college, and special enrichment programs. If you have school-age children, also consider paying a visit to schools in the neighborhoods you’re considering. Even if you don’t have children, a house in a good school district will be easier to sell in the future.
- Find out if the neighborhood is safe. Ask the police department for neighborhood crime statistics. Consider not only the number of crimes but also the type—burglaries, armed robberies—and the trend of increasing or decreasing crime. Also, is crime centered in only one part of the neighborhood, such as near a retail area?
- Determine if the neighborhood is economically stable. Check with your local city economic development office to see if income and property values in the neighborhood are stable or rising. What is the percentage of homes to apartments? Apartments don’t necessarily diminish value, but they do mean a more transient population. Do you see vacant businesses or homes that have been for sale for months?
- See if you’ll make money. Ask a local REALTOR® or call the local REALTOR® association to get information about price appreciation trends in the neighborhood. Although past performance is no guarantee of future results, this information may give you a sense of how good an investment your home will be. A REALTOR® or the government planning agency also may be able to tell you about planned developments or other changes in the neighborhood—like a new school or highway—that might affect value.
- See for yourself. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to two or three neighborhoods, go there, and walk around. Are homes tidy and well maintained? Are streets quiet? Pick a warm day if you can and chat with people working or playing outside. Are they friendly? Are their children to play with your family?
Buying A Home – Tips On Buying In A Tight Market
Increase your chances of getting your dream house instead of losing it to another buyer, with these easy steps.
- Get prequalified for a mortgage. You’ll be able to make a firm commitment to buy and make your offer more desirable to the seller.
- Stay in close touch with your real estate sales associate to find out first about new listings that come on the market. And be ready to go see a house as soon as it goes on the market.
- Scout out new listings yourself. Look at Internet sites, newspaper ads, and drive by the neighborhood frequently. Maybe you’ll see a brand-new “for sale” sign before anyone else.
- Be ready to make a decision. Spend lots of time in advance deciding what you must have so you won’t be unsure when you have the chance to make an offer.
- Bid competitively. You may not want to start out offering the absolute highest price you can afford, but don’t try to go too low to get a deal. In a tight market, you’ll lose out.
- Keep contingencies to a minimum. Restrictions such as needing to sell your home before you move or wanting to delay the closing until a certain date can make your offer unappealing. In a tight market, you’ll probably be able to sell your house rapidly. Or talk to your lender about getting a bridge loan to cover both mortgages for a short period.
- Don’t get caught in a buying frenzy. Just because there’s competition doesn’t mean you should just buy anything. And even though you want to make your offer attractive, don’t neglect inspections that help ensure that your house is sound.