Classy Florida Homes
Frequently Asked Questions
What are the most important things to look for when choosing my next home?
1. The Location
They say the three most important things to think about when buying a home are location, location, location. You can change almost everything else, but you can’t change your home’s location. So when you go house hunting, consider proximity to your work, how the home is situated on the lot, ease of access, noise from neighbors, and traffic. Also think about access to parks, shopping, schools, and public transportation.
2. The Neighborhood
Be sure the neighborhood, and not just the house, meets your expectations. To research a neighborhood, drive around on weekdays and weekends, during the day and in the evening. Are homes in the neighborhood consistent in size and features? Do the neighbors keep the yards clean and tidy, or are there old cars and trash around? Is the neighborhood safe enough for people to walk, run, or bike? Also, see whether it’s a child-friendly or pet-friendly neighborhood if that’s important to you.
3. The Site
Beyond location, look at the site of the home. If the home is on a hill, does it have a view? Do neighbors’ windows look directly into the home? Is the yard suitable for kids, pets, gardening, or other uses? Is access to the property safe regarding driveway elevation or stairs to the front door? If you plan to be in the home long-term, think about how your accessibility needs might change as you age.
4. The Home’s Curb Appeal
Your home should reflect your design preferences and your lifestyle. Do you live a laid-back life and not want a lot of exterior maintenance?
Then, you might want to skip a formal Victorian or Tudor-Style home with lots of intricate features to keep up. Consider something simpler. Also, ask yourself whether the roof and any decks or patios are in good condition. And check out the landscaping to determine how much yard maintenance you’ll have to do.
5. The Size and the Floor Plan
Avoid being wowed by an extremely large home or a home with a unique feature, such as a sauna, if you’ll never use the space. Determine the right size home for you, as well as your ideal floor plan, prior to house hunting, and try to stick as closely as you can to that. Remember, while extra square footage can give you that craft room, home gym, or theater room you’ve always wanted, you’ll also have to pay higher energy bills and taxes. And it will take more furniture to fill the home and more effort to keep it clean. So realistically consider the space and layout you’ll need for your lifestyle now and for the duration you plan to stay in the home.
6. The Bedrooms and Bathrooms
Decide how many bedrooms and bathrooms you need, and only look at homes that meet your criteria. It would be a shame to fall in love with a cozy, charming cottage that isn’t big enough. Don’t just assume you’ll be able to add more square footage later. Think about who will be living in your home now and who might be in the future. If there’s the potential that you’ll have kids, take in relatives, or find roommates, factor that into your bedroom and bathroom count.
7. The Kitchen
If the kitchen is the heart of your home, don’t settle for one you don’t love. Kitchen remodels can be costly and time-consuming. Sure, many people prefer to go the remodeling route to get exactly what they want. But if the home is already at the top of your budget, that might mean you’ll have to wait a long time for your dream kitchen and live with something you hate. However, if the kitchen just needs some minor upgrades, such as new appliances, to suit your needs, it could be worth considering.
8. The Closets and Storage
Older homes tend to have small closets and not a lot of storage space overall. So if you have lots of sports equipment, craft supplies, out-of-season clothes, and holiday decorations, be sure to clock where all of it might be stored as you’re house hunting. Because newer homes tend to have ample storage space, you might want to start by only looking at them. You can always add storage space, but that might mean sacrificing some living space, such as turning a bedroom into a closet.
9. The Windows and Lighting
Check out the views from the windows and how much natural light they let in. Look especially at the views and lighting from the windows in living spaces where you’ll spend most of your daylight hours. You don’t want to be staring at the side of your neighbor’s house all day or have to turn on an artificial light because your room isn’t bright enough.
Furthermore, note where there are built-in light fixtures and outlets in each room. You can always add artificial lighting and outlets later, but it’s nice to have that in place when you move in.
10. The Finishing Touches
Sometimes the simplest home looks spectacular thanks to the details, such as the trim and hardware. Custom window treatments that will remain with the home also can be a selling point, as can a lovely fireplace.
Plus, tech updates, such as a smart thermostat or a home security system, can be a huge draw. If elements like these are important to you, look for them while house hunting or be ready to add them after you move in.
If you keep these specific elements of a home in mind, your house hunting will be more successful, and you could end up with the home of your dreams.
Why should I buy instead of renting?
1. Building equity is possibly the number 1 reason to invest in your own home. Historically, property values continue to rise and as a homeowner, you have protection against higher and higher prices. A huge portion of most people’s net worth exists as their equity in their home.
2. You have better control of your privacy and your environment. It is your property and a landlord does not control what you do. Home ownership gives you a sense of pride and accomplishment that renting cannot do.
How much money do I need to put down?
As little as zero down.
Sound too good to be true? It’s not. There are loan programs and government assistance programs that can get qualified home buyers into a home with a zero dollar down payment. You may still have to pay closing costs. Programs vary by lender and borrowers must meet certain requirements. A VA loan or USDA loan are examples of no down payment programs. There are very low down payment conventional and FHA loans available also.
How Does a Mortgage Work?
It may be embarrassing for first time buyers to admit, but often you don’t understand all the working parts of a mortgage until you’ve been through the process. Don’t be afraid to ask!
You’ll want to know the difference between types of mortgage: a fixed-rate mortgage and an adjustable rate mortgage. What is a good interest rate in the current market? How do you spot a trustworthy mortgage lender? How long does it take to get a mortgage and what paperwork do you need? All of these are questions we can help you with.
What Are the Closing Costs?
We mentioned it above, but closing costs (the price you pay for things like home inspection, appraisal, loan origination, title search, and so on) are often overlooked. Asking what the closing costs are going to be is one of the most important first time home buyer questions.
How Much Will It Cost To Move?
Again: more costs! So many first time home buyers don’t recognize how many hidden costs there are to purchase a home.
Moving costs could be as small as borrowing some friends’ trucks and getting some extra hands to help, or it could be as major as hiring a trucking company to pack and load all of your stuff and move cross country. The difference could be tens of thousands of dollars–it can add up quickly. So make sure you factor moving costs into your home buying calculations.
What Kind of Insurance Do I Need?
You are probably familiar with the idea of homeowner’s insurance. It’s a very necessary cost, and you’ll want to know exactly what is covered. But what about private mortgage insurance? Many first time buyers don’t even know what that is, or who is required to get it. We can answer these questions for you.