Buying process

Buying property, homes or condos here in St. Petersburg Tampa bay Florida 

Important information that every buyer should know so you don’t have big surprises later.

If you have questions or need more information just pick up the phone and call us  727 410 7777.

In this post about  “buying property, homes or condos here in St. Petersburg and the beaches I will try to walk you step by step to a successful real estate closing,

without headaches and dramas and regrets, and experience you can enjoy.

Step 1     Finding out what you really want or need in a property

As a buyer you have to do a lot of homework before you can look at house or condos.

First of all, start with you dream, answer the questions

“What do I want”

think about it, dream about it and write it down on a list.

Now, you take this same list and out of all the “Wants” highlight or adjust the “Needs”

It might look like this

5 bedroom house

Ok, I am a single person, so a 2 bedroom 2 baths is enough to clean.

Huge back yard

Nice size back yard

Huge front yard

Don’t really need one at all, how wants to cut the lawn?

5 car garage

Well, I only have one car so a 2 car garage will do

Circular drive way

It doesn’t really matter as long as I can get to the house

Tropical landscaping

Worst case scenario, I can always plan a few Palm trees myself

Wide open water view

That would be great, but if the rest of the property is perfect,

I could do with a regular view

Boat dock with 2 lifts

Ok, Ok, Boat dock alone is fine, till I have the money to buy my first boat.

Heated lap size pool

I am not training for the next Olympics, so I really do not need “the lap size”

Swim Jacuzzi

How am I going to swim with a cocktail glass in my hand? So, so normal Jacuzzi will do.

Detached guest quarters

My mother in law will come to visit and never leave if she has her own guest quarters.

You get the picture, what we WANT and what we NEED are two different things and you need to make sure you take a moment and think about this.


Step 2     Finding out what you can afford.

Now that you have thought about your NEEDS and WANTS we have to find out what you can actually afford. (Let’s all them CANS)

I know, nobody likes to talk or deal with this, but it is a big part of the process.

Call your mortgage broker or your bank and set up an appointment.

Sit down with them (do not do this on the phone) and get the NUMBER. By that I mean the amount of money you can spend on your new home.

Make sure you can afford the payment, and do not forget that you need a cushion for repairs or increases in maintenance fees or taxes etc. for your home or condo. Do not stretch yourself to thin.

Just because your mortgage broker says  “Based on your loan to income ratio you will have no problems making the payment.” Doesn’t mean that he is right, only you can make this determination, because in the end only you know your lifestyle and how much it costs.

It always amazes me when people right now pay $1000 in rent and have no money left over at the end of the month, that these people and their mortgage broker think they can easily afford to make $2000 mortgage payment per month. So, make a responsible decision, and be safe rather than sorry.


Step 3      How do you find a Realtor in St. Pete that you feel comfortable working with?

Getting closer, in the process of buying a home or condo. By now you know what you WANT and what you NEED and what you CAN.

You next step is finding the right Realtor to assist you in the purchase of your new home. How do you do this?

Ask a few friends if they can recommend someone (do not fall of the “My sister is a Realtor”), check the internet for local experts, Google their name see what you can find. Meet with a few of them and ask questions.

Do they work as a single agent or a transaction broker (and you need to understand the difference, important) What is their education?  What designations do they have?  How will they communicate with you (it is the 21st  century and some Realtors are stuck in the 20 century)

How will they find homes for you? (If they just say “the ‘MLS” system, you better run)

Last but not least, even if a Realtor sounds good and qualified on paper, you need to feel comfortable with this person and you need to have the feeling that this Realtor understands what you want and need. OK. You are all set, you have done your homework, found a Realtor and you are preapproved by the bank, you can go shopping now. Houses here I come.


Step 4     Going shopping for a home or condo in Saint Petersburg Tampa bay Florida

Buying a house or condo in saint Petersburg. Exciting, you are finally ready to go out and look for your new home or condo.

Uuuuuuups, wait, did we talk about your time frame? How soon do you want or need to buy?

Do you have a few months time and can wait for a short sale or do you need a house next month because your new job starts soon and the kids have to change schools.

Time is an important factor when you want to buy property and make sure you talked about this with your Realtor.

Back to shopping. Your Realtor will do most of the searches for you, but you should also check the internet and see what is out there, e mail the listings you find to your agent and get his or her feedback on it.

Try to get familiar with the market and the “What you can get for your money” Look at a few handpicked properties and tell your agent what you liked and did not like about it. In the real estate buying process it is all about communication, feedback and understanding.

The more your Realtor knows about your WANTS and NEEDS and CANS the better feedback you give her or him the more effective the search will be.

Do not be afraid if the very first home you see is the one you like. If you found a great Realtor that listens to you and understands you and has a great knowledge of the neighborhood and inventory, there is a chance that the first home is YOUR home. Of course, go see some others and compare but, you might have found your new home already.


Step 5       Making an offer when buying a home or condo in Tampa Bay Saint Petersburg,

You are going to buy a home or condo here in St. Pete soon. Let’s assume, you have done enough shopping, you found a house or condo that you really like, all your NEEDS are taken care of an hopefully some of your wants. You are ready to make an offer.  But how much are you going to offer?

Remember when I said it is important to you understand if your Realtor is a Transaction broker or single agent?  If you choose a single agent to represent you, you will have an easy time to determine the sales price you will offer.

Take a very close look at the comparable properties that have sold in the last few months, also, try to find out how motivated the seller is and last but not least, how bad do you want the property???

Talk to your real estate agent about all this and put it in writing. Do not make a verbal offer, if it is not in writing, it is not enforceable (statue of fraud) A verbal OK. from the seller means nothing, but a signed and delivered contract is legally binding.

Make sure you understand your offer, the paperwork can be very tricky and you need to read it carefully and talk to your realtor about all the “blanks” you have to fill in. If you still have any unanswered questions about the real estate purchase contract, contact a lawyer and get answers. This is not the time to take chances, you are about to make one if not the one most expensive purchase of your life


Step 6       Negotiating a Real Estate deal in St. Petersburg Florida. 

In some cases you make an offer on a property and it gets accepted, but this is very very rare, Most of the time it is a long way between an offer and a signed contract.

It can go back and forth a few times and the negotiations can be difficult and tricky, but with the assistance of your Realtor you will be fine. He or she is trained and experienced and will be a tremendous help for you.

Negotiating the price of the home or condo is just one part of all this, you also have to think about time frames and closing costs, and who picks the title company and who pays for title insurance, who is responsible for repairs, is there a dollar limit?

When do you deliver your commitment letter, it is conditional or unconditional?

When do you do the home inspection?

Does it make sense to offer a higher escrow deposit right from the start or do you want to leave yourself room to adjust this later?

Are you going to ask for a home warranty plan? If so what should it cover?

Do you want to make your offer contingent upon an estimate of property taxes and insurance quotes?

How many contingencies can you or should you put in your offer without offending the seller or killing the deal before it even starts?

I could go on and on but, it sounds worst than it is, your realtor will guide you through the process and once you sign your offer you will understand all this and feel comfortable with it.


Step 7      Buying property in St Petersburg and making counter offers.

Please use a counter offer form when negotiating a real estate purchase in Saint Pete

Alright, you just made on offer on the property you want to buy.

Now, you  Mr. Buyer better get yourself some Valium or a few drinks, the “waiting” for an acceptance of your offer or the waiting for a counter offer can be nerve wrecking.

Some of my buyers take it easy and relaxed, but most of them, sit by the phone and wait for my call.

They have a hard time falling asleep at night and cannot concentrate on work.

This is an exciting time, for everybody in the game, buyer, seller, and Realtors.

You would think that I, the Realtor have done it so many years and some many times,

that it would not be a big deal anymore, wrong each and every real estate transaction is different and exciting and you need to focus and keep your guard up.

The moment you think ” No big deal, Walk in the park, I know it all”  you are in trouble.

I am very passionate about my job, maybe that why I still get excited about each offer, Ok enough about me. Finally the phone rings, you met with your Realtor and you look at the counter offer.

Of course you are disappointed that the seller did not just sign it the way it was, but that is the name of the game and you have to look at the bright site, you are getting closer and hopefully after countering the counter offer you will eventually reach a “meeting of the minds” on your property deal, everybody is happy, everybody signs and now what once started as an offer is a legal binding contract to purchase real estate.

One tip, make sure the counter and the counter to the counter etc. and are on separate forms and not on the original contract. It if goes back and forth a few times, you will not be able to read anything anymore. So, use a counteroffer form)

Step 8       Communication between realtors and buyers and sellers.

Communication is important when buying a home or condo in Saint You are buying a house or condominium in Saint Petersburg. This is step number 8 in the real estate buying process. We are talking about time frames and you need to pay very close attention, because this could cost you the deal.

The moment the last party (either seller or buyer) signs the offer, you have a legal binding contract to purchase property and this day is also your effective date.

Every time frame or dead line stated in the real estate contract typically start counting on effective date. You need to know if your contract counts in business or calendar days, this will make a huge difference.

Do not miss a dead line, it might mean that you are in default and the purchase contract might become null and void. So, the moment you have an effective date ask your Realtor to help you make a list of all deadlines.

I do not care if you have your Realtor take care of everything or if you want to order inspections etc. yourself or if you have your lender or title company do it for you, in the end it is your home, your money, your dream and you better stay on top of things and make sure everything gets done in time.

Communication between all parties is the key, (seller, buyer, Realtors, inspectors, title companies etc.) do not wait till the last moment to get things done, do them ASAP and leave room for errors. Trust me on this one, no matter how easy the deal looks, there is always one thing that throws you off and you want to have time left to deal with it.


Step 9      Watch your dead lines

Very important in your buying real estate process. I really want to stress the point of deadlines and I think the best way it to give you some examples of things that can happen.

It is important to NOT wait till the last day to work on your contingencies.

Worst case scenario you might need time to exercise plan B in the real estate buying process.

Home inspector fell of the latter and could not finish inspection.

It rained and home inspector could not get on the roof, so inspection is not finished

Home inspectors computer broke in the middle of doing your report, he lost all data and has to go back and inspect again.

Home inspectors dog ate report before he could fax it.

Insurance cannot be issued, someone forgot to order a 4 point inspection.

Hurricane is about to hit Florida next week, sorry no insurance will be issued as soon as you are in the famous “box”

Lender is too busy to submit a commitment letter

Lender lost part of your paperwork and without that, no commitment letter.

Lender missed that you are divorced and prepared all paperwork in the wrong name.

Lender forgot to tell you about points, now you are upset and will not sign.

Termite inspector went to the wrong address, now that have to do it again.

Survey was done in time, but the girl who writes it up is on vacation.

No, I did not make this up, this is very real and it is only a few of the many things that can happen. So, please don’t wait till the last minute. Each one of these items could kill this real estate deal for you.

Step 10     Closing paperwork

Buying real estate. Ok. You are doing good so far, you have met all the deadlines, you had a few problems but they got solved, the home inspection did not go to well, but your Realtor helped you renegotiate a different deal. The appraisal came in ok. The mortgage company as issued a commitment letter, you have your insurance in place, you think you are ready to go to closing and you want to call the moving company.

I know you do not like to hear this, but there is still one tiny little issue, the money is not in the bank yet, meaning your lender as no transferred the money to the title company and they have not even given the final numbers to the title company nor have they send all the necessary paperwork.

By law you have the right to see the HUD statement at least 24 hours before closing but the title company cannot send it because your lender is not cooperating. Now what do you do?

This is not an exemption to the rules, unfortunately it is the rule. Happens at least 8 out of 10 times.

Now all hell breaks loose, everybody is on the phone with everybody. . . . .

The one and only advice I can give you is Stay in touch with your lender on a daily base. Make sure they understand that time is off the essence and that they need to perform.

You are paying them a lot of money to get the loan, so, do not take, “I will call you tomorrow, or I will look into this, or I am sorry it sits in underwriting” for an answer.

I have gotten deals done by sheer persistence and nothing else. If you call them 20 times a day, they finally get the job done, just so you won’t call anymore. (I am not joking,  call them every 20 minutes)

Step 11     Closing

Finally you are good to go – to closing that is.

Make sure your realtor is with you and make sure that your mortgage broker shows up also. Most likely you will have questions for both of them and you do not want to sit at closing and try to get them on the phone.

Make sure you have seen the HUD statement ahead of time and you are ok with all the numbers on it. Make sure you bring your driver license and you cashier’s check or wire receipt for your down payment.

As a buyer with a mortgage you will most likely be overwhelmed with the paperwork you see at closing. Nobody prepared you for 55 pages of stuff you don’t really understand.

Closing was supposed to take 30 minutes, and everybody is in a rush to get home. Do not let this get to you. If you need more time to read all the paperwork, read it, if you have questions, ask them.

Do not be intimidated, or feel pressured. Take your time and feel comfortable before you sign.

Congratulations !!!  You have just finished a successful real estate transaction and bought your new home.

Enjoy it and have fun and start unpacking. Meet your neighbors open that bottle of champagne or go to the next bar and have a few drinks. It is finally time to celebrate. Congratulations !!!   

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