Mortgage rates rise and fall (though they have risen considerably over the past year or so), and inventory vanishes and then eventually reappears, but the checklist for first-time homebuyers has largely remained the same. It all comes down to knowing how to budget, picking the right buyer’s agent, and being open with your search parameters.
Below, the team from Prevu Real Estate highlights five must-know tips every aspiring Florida homebuyer can benefit from as they search for their first home.
Be flexible with your search
Sure, anyone would love a spacious condo in Central Beach overlooking the Atlantic. But if the price range is out of your budget and the available inventory isn’t for you, don’t force it, no matter how much you love the area.
Luckily, Fort Lauderdale is packed with incredible neighborhoods with plenty to offer. Maybe the tamer streets of Victoria Park and its “Old Florida” charm will steal your attention. Or it may be worth venturing out beyond city limits and exploring places like Plantation or Pembroke Pines.
The idea is to give yourself options if the first two or three areas at the top of your list are out of the question. This will keep your homebuying journey alive and not limit you to a few square miles.
Work with an agent and leverage commission rebates
The paperwork and negotiating process has always been a tricky part of any real estate transaction. Having an experienced agent by your side to guide you through it will not only be essential to securing you a good deal but also provide you with the opportunity to save money.
Working with an agent who provides commission rebates can give you access to the only real estate tool that puts money back in your pocket. Brokerages like Prevu Real Estate choose to invest in a tech-forward approach and expert, salaried agents to unlock savings for buyers.
Prevu currently offers the largest rebate in South Florida via the brokerage’s Smart Buyer Rebate. These savings can be invaluable in helping offset expensive closing costs or providing extra funds for furniture budgets or renovation projects.
Get a fully underwritten pre-approval
Having a pre-approval in tow when you make an offer is a non-negotiable. Pre-approvals demonstrate that you are financially ready to handle the transaction and give you more confidence to waive a financing contingency.
But you can go a step further in making your offer stand out by getting a fully underwritten pre-approval.
To get one, a mortgage lender must perform due diligence on your financials before you even make an offer. Unlike a standard pre-approval, where the lender does the review after you sign a purchase agreement, this version gives you an approved loan amount from the get-go; this can give the seller peace of mind that you won’t back out because of financing issues.
Don’t underestimate property alerts
Property alerts can be a surprisingly effective tool for first-time buyers – as long as you know how to use them.
You want to have your preferences down to the tee; this will make your alerts more focused and effective. Make sure you specify everything from the exact number of bathrooms to the amenities and specific location. The idea is that every alert you receive is a property worth seeing.
Once you nail down the search parameters, you can leverage property alerts to act quickly – a vital part of buying a home in a competitive market.
Act quickly and decisively
Arguably, the biggest hurdle for first-time buyers is the competition. Many like-minded buyers are out there perusing limited inventory just like you; chances are they’ll schedule a property tour on the same home that caught your eye.
But not everyone follows the above tips we mentioned, which means hesitation can stay their initiative. A buyer who has a fully underwritten pre-approval, knows they can potentially save with a rebate, and has streamlined property alerts at the ready, won’t need to hesitate to see the property and possibly make an offer.
Moving fast means the seller might see your offer first. Remember, sellers will typically want to sell their home quickly; if you’re the first buyer they see and your offer is sound, you may avoid competition and potential bidding wars.