Home Buyers Frequently Asked Question
How long will it take to find a property?
That depends upon the complexity or the availability of what you are looking for. If choices are readily available, 2-3 days of house hunting is typical, but it also depends upon how many homes are viewed daily.
It could also be several months of watching the market and waiting for the “right” property to become available. You, the buyer, make that decision and we are always willing to accommodate you. No pressure.
Can you show me all the properties of interest?
Absolutely, yes! You will not need to call anyone else, We have access to all properties (Condos, Townhomes, Single Family, Multi-Family, Farms, Estates, Holiday Homes, Investment Property and Vacant Land) available through the Multiple Listing Service (MLS) Bank Foreclosures, Short Sales, New Builder homes and we can also help you buy a “For-Sale-By-Owner “ Property.
Are you licensed by the State of Florida?
Yes, we are licensed by the State of Florida and members of the National Association of Realtors, Florida Association of Realtors and the local Realtor Association. Plus, we are also members of NAEBA.org,(the National Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents) and the Florida Association of Exclusive Buyer Agents. In addition, we hold as many or more advanced training designations and certifications than other Realtors in the State.
What is an EXCLUSIVE Buyer’s Agent?
It is a dedicated Buyer Specialist that only and always represents the best interest of the buyer with 100% Fiduciary Duties and “no bait and switch”.
Exclusive Buyer Agents work ONLY in a “Buyer Brokerage Office” that never lists property or represents sellers, so therefore there is no conflict of interest when representing you, the buyer. Everyone in the entire office represents only the buyer.
Florida has over 445,000 Licensed Real Estate Agents…more than any state in the US, yet there are less than 10 TRUE Buyer Brokerage offices in Florida. . Less than 1% of US offices qualify to be an Exclusive Buyer Brokerage. As NAEBA members we aspire to the highest level of ethics and competency, which is more stringent than the code of ethics required in a traditional office.
How do you get paid?
We are paid no differently than any other Real Estate Office. We are paid through the funds of the transaction which is a seller's expense at closing. Commission is typically split between the listing office and the selling office…we are the selling office. On a rare occasion, the buyer may choose to pay us directly.
Is there a written agreement?
Can I make a verbal offer?
Legally yes, but realistically all serious offers are made in writing. Typically a seller will insist on a written offer. If financing, the seller will also require a pre-qualification letter from your lender or “Proof of Funds” (POF) if you are paying cash, Providing documentation assures that seller that you are creditworthy, serious and committed to buying the property.
How long does it take to negotiate an offer?
If the seller is in town, usually a couple of days; if they live out of the country, it could be several days. If it is bank owned it may take a week and a short sale may take several months.
In a fast sellers market, the seller may have a deadline to review multiple offers which is at the seller's discretion.
How long will it take to “close” on a property?
Financed property: about 4-6 weeks. Cash: approximately 3-4 weeks. The time may vary depending upon the types of inspections needed and the sellers willingness to vacate the property. Sellers of vacant property like to see quick closings.
Who will handle the “closing and documents”?
Typically a title company, although you may also hire an attorney (solicitor) to represent you or draw up all the documents and/or review the documents. Who handles the closing is a negotiable item in the contract.
Do I need to be physically present at closing?
No, You do not need to attend. Many closings are a “mail-away” with documents sent either by e-mail or through the mail. You may also do a “Power of Attorney” and authorize another person to sign on your behalf. Money needed for closing will be wired directly into the title company’s escrow account.
What is Title Insurance?
It is insurance protection against loss arising from problems connected to the title to your property. Before you purchased your home it may have gone through several ownership changes and the land it sits on may have had more ownership changes.
There may be a weak link in that chain that could emerge to cause trouble. For example, someone along the way may have forged a signature in transferring title or there may be unpaid real estate taxes or other liens. Title insurance covers the insured party for any claims and legal fees that arise out of such problems.
Who pays for Title Insurance?
That is contractually a negotiable item between buyer and seller and whoever pays for the Title Insurance selects the title company to provide the documents. It is advisable that the buyer purchase their own title insurance as it is never smart to use the seller's title company. It is best to have a title agent with experience and knowledge working for you as they dig through the history and search for any potential problems.
What about Property Tax?
Taxes are paid in the arrears: this means that at the end of the year, the tax bill will be due for the entire year. Tax bills are sent in October for that year and are delinquent after March of next year. You will receive a prorated “tax credit” from the seller on the closing statement for the portion of that year that the seller still owned the property. For example, if you close June 30th you will receive a credit from the seller for ½ of the tax bill that you will pay in entirety at the end of the year.
What type of Home Inspection will I need?
It depends on what you are buying. On a single family home, typically you will do a “comprehensive inspection” which covers roof, electrical, structural, heat, air conditioning system, appliances and more. You should also get a WDO (Wood Destroying Organism) report which would cover termites, powder post beetles, ants and rotten wood. You may also need a septic tank evaluation or other specialty inspection.
Will I need an Appraisal and Survey?
If you are financing, the lender will require that you get both and if the price is above $1Million may require that you get two appraisals. If you are paying cash and comfortable with the value of the property, you do not need an appraisal. You will however need a survey to be assured that you are actually buying the parcel intended. Condos do not require a survey.
Is it difficult to get Homeowners Insurance?
Yes and No. If the property is newer and relatively in good shape, then “no”. However if the property is older than about 30 years, more than likely the insurance company may require an additional “4-point” inspection which is an evaluation of the roof, electrical, plumbing and air conditioning system.
Flood insurance may or may not be required on every property. The rules for making that determination are set by FEMA (Florida Emergency Management Agency) and change often, so there are no set rules. However you need to be aware that a general Homeowners insurance policy does not cover “rising water”and just because a property requires “flood” insurance does not mean that the property will automatically flood…it is insurance in case it does flood.
Lately, some insurance companies are no longer writing policies in Florida due to the volume of insurance scams. The companies that are still writing policies are getting pickier on what they will accept. They require newer roofs, newer hot water heaters, no polybutylene plumbing and no old electrical wiring. That means that you may have to change out these items before you can get a better rate on insurance.
What is a Short Sale?
A short sale is a property that is still in possession with the current owner, but being sold for less than the balance of the mortgage, so the mortgage holder needs to approve the “short” sale, by agreeing to take less than is owed.
Buying a short sale can be a lengthy process with no guarantee that you will be able to purchase the property even at the listed price. The bank might not agree to take a short payoff; they may want a higher price;there could be two or more banks involved; the property could go into foreclosure while you wait and it is also possible that the bank will not respond at all to your offer.
What is an REO?
REO is Real Estate Owned by the bank…also called a “bank foreclosure”. This is a property that the bank has repossessed in a foreclosure auction for non-payment of the mortgage and now the bank owns it.
In the old days, banks wanted to just dump the properties for cheap. Today the banks are doing a quick rehab and asking top dollar for the property. Too many buyers automatically assume that if the bank owns it, that it must be a good deal…not always so...the value needs to be determined.
What about Waterfront Property?
The good news is that waterfront property is always a good investment. The bad news is that the supply of good waterfront is limited, therefore pricey.
Waterfront appreciates much faster than a dry lot, therefore is typically priced at a premium price. The feet on the water frontage, the view, the quality of the location and the improvements on the lot will determine the overall value.
How much less will the seller take for the house?
That depends upon a lot of factors: Who is selling the property, what kind of conditions it is in, how much money is owed on it, how long has it been on the market, and whether or not the seller really needs to sell or simply wants to net a certain amount of money to move.
The most important question is “How well is it priced?” Is the property worth a lot less than what they are asking or is it a bargain at list price? Last but not least is the listing agent able to convince the seller to accept the offer or will they be agreeable with whatever the seller thinks...even if it is unreasonable?
What about New Construction?
All builders will pay the agent a commission as long as they are aware that the buyer does have an agent.
The biggest misconception for new construction buyers is that many think that if they come without an agent that the price will be discounted for them…absolutely not true! The price will stay the same and more than likely the buyer will end up paying more than they need to with terms that may not be favorable.
An experienced broker is invaluable when buying New Construction. Their expertise and negotiation skills will guide you through the process and advise you on features that will make you money on the resale. Not only can they save you money, they will make sure that you get everything that you contracted for.