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Buying A Home

Is it Time for You to Buy?

  • Are you renting and ready to start receiving the tax benefit of owning your home?

  • Do you need more space? Or less space?

  • Has your family grown or have the kids moved out?

Every time a home is Built, Bought or Sold in Florida jobs are created and dozen of occupations are utilized. Home ownership is still the number one goal for Americans. This short video shows the power of real estate in our economy.  

What’s on the Market?

There are three different home options on the market today:

  1. Builder’s Spec Homes: This is a brand new home that a builder constructed on a lot that usually has some upgrades. Builders also refer to specs as inventory homes which allows them to offer a timely move in.  The upside of buying a spec home is that everything is new in the home; the downside is that you may have more closing costs. Realtors and site agents see a huge benefit in working together to close a spec home.

  2. Existing Homes: One of the biggest upsides of buying an existing home is that you have the ability to find a home with the best lot, the best view and the best amenities. Existing homes usually have all of the ceiling fans and blinds installed. If you want a pool, the chances are good that you can find a home you like that already has a pool installed. You also have the ability to move into a community you like that does not have new construction to compete with your home when its time for you to sell in the future. Sellers have often performed upgrades to the homes that help the home compete with new construction. This is also done by offering a home warranty. With that said, there also exists homes for sale that need “fixing up.” This is a great way to go into a home with equity.  In this seller’s market you can make improvements and live in the neighborhood you really want to live in.

  3. Pre-sale: If you prefer building a new home you can choose the builder, the neighborhood, and build from your plans or theirs. This can be a lengthy process. Most builders will not take a contingency of your home selling prior to the construction of your new home. As a buyer, you must decide if you want to risk having two mortgage payments, if your current home does not sell. Or you can choose to sell your current home first and live in temporary housing until your new home is complete. Some buyers do like the inconvenience of this. The upside to building is that you get to choose absolutely every detail in your new home. You can incorporate the latest trends in cabinetry, flooring, and floor plans. While builders in this robust market are not making deals on pre-sale homes each individual builder determines if the market dictates a need for buyer incentives. Builders always welcome buyers and their real estate professionals.  

Where to buy?

If you are unsure which neighborhood to look in - let me help you.  I know Duval, Clay and St Johns Counties well.  Below is a list of just some of the areas:

  • Atlantic Beach

  • Neptune Beach

  • Jacksonville Beach

  • Ponte Vedra Beach

  • St. Augustine

  • Nocatee

  • Durbin Crossing

  • Julington Creek Plantation

  • Mandarin

  • San Marco/San Jose

  • Southside

  • North Jacksonville

  • Baymeadows

  • Intracoastal West

What is the process for finding and buying a home?

The first two steps in the process of buying a home are

  • Find a realtor who will represent you in the transaction 

  • Work with a local loan professional for pre-qualification of your new mortgage

Your realtor should give you up to the minute information on what homes are available for sale that fit your criteria. You want to discuss with your realtor specific wants and needs for your new home. A good realtor will help you determine which of the wants are mandatory and which are on your “wish list.” This is helpful as you look at and compare many different homes.

One of the advantages of today’s home buying process is that much of the work can be done on-line. There are photos, virtual tours and floor plans on-line that allow you to narrow down your choices before actually spending your time and gas driving around.

Your Realtor should provide you with a comparable market analysis (also know as a CMA) and assist you in determining an offering price. Your realtor will also assist you in the negotiation process in terms other than price (i.e.-which appliances will be left, closing time and date, closing costs paid by the seller, etc.).

Your realtor will be with you every step of the way, from the moment you decide you want to look, to the settlement table. This is why it is so important to interview Realtors and choose the one that best fits your style and personality in addition to having all the requirements and education that help the realtor work in your best interest.

How do I find a loan professional and what is the difference between being pre-qualified?

With all of the lending institutions out there (banks, mortgage companies, mortgage brokers) how do you know who to choose? Your realtor should be the first person you ask because they will have experience with these various institutions and who can recommend someone they know can get you to the closing table. Choosing your mortgage based solely on a rate is never a good idea. Every lender has the same or similar program.  However, they are not all equal when it comes to service.  

When choosing a loan professional, ask the following questions:

  • Does your loan professional know the many details of the loan process?

  • Does the loan professional have access to a wide variety of loan packages?

  • Will the loan professional be available to you during the process and will he/she attend the closing?

  • Can the interest rates be locked in and for how long?

Once you find a loan professional you are ready to get pre-qualified.

Pre-qualification is the first step in getting a mortgage. Pre-qualification happens when a buyer discloses to a loan professional the amount of their income, the amount of their debt, and how much money they have to put down on a new home, to determine what their buying power is (how much money the loan officer thinks you can borrow for a home). This process also determines the type of financing you will receive (i.e.; conventional, FHA, or VA).

The approval process takes the buyer a step further. At this point the loan officer does a credit check to determine whether you are credit worthy (meaning is your credit score good enough for you to be financed). The loan professional validates your ability to purchase by collecting required documentation (i.e.; pay stub, bank statements, verification of employment, etc.).

Some buyers tend to wait for loan approval until after they have found a home. I discourage this. Your power as a buyer increases when you are able to make an offer with pre-qualification.  By doing this, you let the seller know that you are capable and ready to buy their home. This is a huge benefit to the buyer and the seller. 

 Why Choose Judy Hicks?

Whether you are in the market for an existing home or for a new home, there is no better choice than Judy Hicks.  With the power of RE/MAX behind her, your choices for existing quality homes are endless. In addition, Judy has an excellent relationship with many developers and builders who offer a multitude of new home choices in a variety of communities, designs, home sites and price ranges. 

If you're like most people, buying a home is the biggest investment you will ever make.  A home search can be daunting but it doesn't have to be...remember you can have someone on your side.  Judy has the distinction of being one of the few Realtors in Jacksonville to have earned the Accredited Buyer Representative (ABR), this course teaches a Realtor in-depth skills in negotiation, buyer representation and effective marketing.  

Remember, in the state of Florida you are not automatically represented in a real estate transaction and when you buy new construction without a Realtor you have no representation!  Why not take advantage of the experience of a local market expert for Jacksonville, Orange Park, Ponte Vedra Beach, Jacksonville Beach, Neptune Beach and the Atlantic Beach areas to make the most informed decisions you can, every step of the way!