Buying a house is an exciting and rich experience for many. You get to check different homes and imagine your life living in them. With that said, keep in mind that there are several practical aspects you need to consider and accomplish when buying a house in Tampa, Florida.
For example, there are two primary locations where you can check homes in Tampa: the Tampa suburbs and South Tampa. Other practical things you need to do include settling mortgages, knowing the community guidelines in the Tampa suburbs, or finding a way to move to a new house with ease in South Tampa, Florida.
Indeed, buying a house is a laborious endeavor. To make it easier for you, here are some tips to keep in mind while house-hunting.
Hire an Expert
Some buyers opt out of hiring a realtor to save on fees. It’s important to understand, however, that when you’re making a big purchase such as a house, it’s best to have an expert—in this case, a realtor or real estate agent—by your side.
While you can do your own research on local residential guidelines and policies, a realtor has an insider’s perspective. They can give you more information on the different communities, help you negotiate with buyers, and assist in processing the relevant documents of purchase.
Additionally, realtors often have their own list of reliable house inspectors. To not rely on the sellers’ inspectors alone, you can tap into their resources to have the property properly checked on your end.
Set a Budget Before Checking Houses
There’s no need to go through the trouble of checking a house you can’t afford it in the first place. Save yourself the trouble by setting a budget beforehand and seeking houses that fall within a reasonable price range.
To make a budget, take account of your monthly income, expenses, and debt load (e.g. student loans or credit card payments). In this manner, you can gauge just how much you can spend on a new house without sacrificing capital for your other needs.
Inspect the House Thoroughly
Don’t get dazzled by the number of rooms, the fresh layer of paint, and a house’s other “new” amenities. A new paint job doesn’t mean that the house is structurally sound. Tampa has an older housing stock, so you need to check the house’s foundation and parts, especially the roof and HVAC (heating, ventilation, air conditioning) system.
Make sure to ask how old the house is and its various parts. Check if the seller had anything renovated or replaced during their stay, and double-check if these changes follow local housing laws. Knowing this information may help you negotiate prices with the seller.
Take Note of Additional Costs
When buying a home, you rarely pay for the house price alone. Consider the possible additional costs, including:
Depending on the agreement with the seller, you may be the one who will be shouldering the repair costs for the house. This is particularly the case if the home has an old roof (15+ years) and HVAC system (8+ years), which can be considerably expensive to replace or repair.
When buying a house, you need to consider if you can afford to live in it. Ask for the previous homeowner’s water, electric, and Internet bills for the past three months, and check if they fit your monthly budget. Don’t be tempted by the house’s low price. If the bills are big, they can eat a huge chunk off of your annual income.
Homeowners Associations (HOA) Fees
HOAs help in ensuring that a neighborhood looks sharp and stays safe in a specific community. They are quite common across Florida, and Tampa has one of the highest HOA fees in the country. Before buying a house, get a copy of the local HOA’s bylaws and see if you can afford the fee and stand by their regulations.
Tampa has some of the highest insurance premiums in the nation. Older houses also tend to have higher insurance payments, and there are other types that are good to have as well, like flood insurance. To save on costs, talk with the insurance provider, and check for discounts.
If you’re moving from out of state, bear in mind that Florida has Homestead Exemption Laws for its permanent residents. This essentially means that permanent residents have smaller property taxes. Thus, the taxes written for the previous homeowners can be starkly different from what you would have to pay. Consult with your agent about this law, so you can know how it will influence your purchase and future tax payments.
Know the Area
The neighborhood your house will be in has a significant influence on your quality of life. Thus, before you even go inside the house, take a drive around the community first. Check the curb appeal, the roads and signs, the available schools, shops, and even the neighbors.
It’s also important to check the land where the house is. Consult with your agent if the area is prone to flooding, and research if storms are common in the area. Lastly, have the land inspected for possible sinkholes. Florida has more sinkholes than any other state, and you don’t want to put yourself and your family at risk.
Overall, Tampa is a lovely city with plenty of job and growth opportunities. Make the most of the city’s resources by finding the right home for you. Do your research, partner with the right agent, and start the journey of house-hunting with the right tools in hand.