So, if you're thinking about buying your first home one day or planning to in the near future, here are 7 useful tips that you may not have known about shopping for and owning a home in Florida.
1. Being Pre-Approved. It really helps to be pre-approved for a home for you and your real estate agent to know what price point to look for that fits your budget. Starting this process with a lender helps you determine how much house you can afford, what your mortgage payments would be, and how much down payment and closing costs you will need to bring to the table.
2. Washers and Dryers. Normally when purchasing a home, washers and dryers are not included in Florida. In most cases, the refrigerator, stove, oven, dishwasher, and garbage disposal are all included. However, every situation is different, and for example, some sellers might want to keep their refrigerator.
3. Repair costs. As a home owner, you need to factor in costs of repairs that you may need to pay for like a broken light or faucet. Most insurance or home warranties cover the big ticket items and just require a deductible depending on your coverage or plan. Insurance is required in a loan and usually covers big ticket items like the roof, windows, fire, wind, or water damage. Flood, however, is usually a separate insurance. Home warranties cover things like HVAC units, stove/oven, washer and dryer, or dishwashers. And electronic protection for TVs, laptops, or tablets can be purchased through phone carriers or through companies like Asurion. Note some coverages may overlap so it is important to determine what you need depending on your situation.
4. Garbage Collection. Most areas require homeowners to have garbage collection service. If the city or county where you will be living sees that you are living in the house but not paying for a regular trash service, then you can potentially be fined per day until you do sign up for garbage collection.
5. Check the HOA. Sometimes, a house that you are interested in purchasing will be in a HOA. HOA help keep neighborhoods uniform. Depending on the HOA, some are very strict and have higher fees than others. It is good to know when and how much HOA fees are due and what restrictions they may or may not impose on you if you decide to build a fence or install a patio or pool in the future.
6. Furnishing the Home. When saving and planning to buy your first home, don't forget to take into account that you made need to purchase beds, sofas, and other furniture or items if you do not have them. These costs can add up quickly. Be sure to not use credit cards to purchase them before closing on your home, but just keep in mind to plan for this expense.
7. Home Inspections. Home inspections are not required but are highly recommended to protect one of your most expensive investments that you will ever make. Inspections for 4-point or wind mitigation are normally required for insurance, but a whole house home inspection will show what outlets may be broken, light fixtures that need fixing, or any leaks or possible foundation or roof issues.