Buying a home for the first time is always an adventure, especially in a beautiful location like Coral Gables. With the perfect blend of arts and culture, recreation, and urban living, Coral Gables invites residents to experience all the best of the South Florida lifestyle. Buying a home requires you to take a number of important steps, many of which may not be known to first-time buyers. If you plan to invest in Coral Gables real estate this year, read the six key steps below before getting started.
1. Set yourself apart
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In the competitive Florida real estate market, first-time home buyers in Coral Gables should take measures to set themselves apart from the crowd. One of the best places to start is with an application for a mortgage pre-approval. This pre-approval shows a seller that you are ready and able to finance the property. The application process gives lenders the opportunity to review your finances in depth and determine the loan size you qualify for.
Buyers who are pre-approved demonstrate to sellers that they’re committed to seeing the investment through. Further, if there are multiple buyers vying for the same property, a pre-approval letter communicates to the seller that working with you means a faster and smoother sale.
A first-time home buyer in Coral Gables may also want to consider waiving contingencies. Contingencies are additional elements that buyers include in the purchasing agreement, such as the cost of a home inspection or a specific repair. Contingencies aren’t part of the original deal, and buyers use them most often when negotiating the sale price. However, when sellers receive multiple offers, it’s common for buyers to waive contingencies to make their offer more competitive. For example, if one buyer is asking for the bathroom sink to be repaired prior to move-in day, but another buyer is open to purchasing the home as-is, a seller may be more inclined to take the second offer.
2. Work with an experienced real estate agent
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There’s no doubt that working with the right real estate agent can make or break your first home purchase. A qualified local agent will always put your goals and ambitions first, helping you determine not only the location and property style you desire, but how to connect with the right lender, determine your down payment, and assess your closing options. As you prepare to buy a home in Coral Gables, don’t hesitate to ask your potential agent questions about the process, their communication style, and what to expect as you work together. You want to partner with someone you feel comfortable with and who will prioritize your investment.
3. A 20 percent down payment isn’t always required
Buyers often assume that 20 percent is the minimum down payment they should be ready to pay, but there are a number of programs for first-time buyers that allow them to invest with a smaller upfront sum. It’s wise for buyers to look into options that allow them to make a 3 to 10 percent down payment, as that can free up funds for later expenses that may arise. However, some buyers may prefer putting down more upfront to reduce the total loan amount they’ll have to pay over time. Based on the various down payment options that are now available, choose the one that best suits your financial situation.
4. Be prepared to pay property taxes
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What a first-time home buyer in Coral Gables may not realize are the taxes that come with owning a home. Annual property tax rates can change year-to-year; Coral Gables home owners can expect around a 1.01 percent tax rate on a home sold for $1,000,000. That means an additional $10,100 in taxes each year. For first-time buyers, it’s important to consider the extra expenses when putting together a financial plan; it should include the monthly mortgage repayment costs, home maintenance expenses, utilities, and taxes.
5. Explore loan types and home buyer assistance programs
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Buying a home for the first time in Coral Gables comes with a host of programs and perks for making the investment more accessible. Miami-Dade County’s First-Time Home Buyer’s Program requires applicants to meet home ownership, income, and residential parameters, and allows buyers to make a minimum down payment of only 3 percent.
First-time buyers should learn about the different types of mortgage loans that are available. Conventional loans are the most common options and come in two varieties: conforming and non-conforming. Although conventional loans are not backed by the federal government, conforming loans do follow the regulations set by the Federal Housing Finance Agency. The Federal Housing Association (FHA) offers its own loans as well, which provide strong options for those who have lower credit scores or want to make a smaller down payment.
6. Complete a home buyer education course
To apply for an assistance program, buyers may need to complete a home buyer education course. These can provide helpful information for any first-time home buyer in Coral Gables, as they offer insight into all the basics and need-to-knows of owning a home. For programs like the Miami-Dade Homeownership Assistance Program, completion of an in-person course is required. These courses are often short and financially accessible, making it easy for buyers to check it off their to-do lists.
More tips before becoming a Coral Gables home owner
The best way to learn the ins and outs of the home buying process is to connect with a top local real estate agent. Working with an agent like Juliana Savoia, buyers are at ease knowing their investment is in the right hands. She has been serving clients in the greater Miami area since 2011, earning top accolades both locally and nationally. To partner with an agent who knows how to help you meet your goals, get in touch with Juliana Savoia.
*Header photo courtesy of Unsplash