Buyer Tips

It’s amazing that during these times where home inventories have soared and prices have gone down considerably, and not to mention cash incentives that builders and sellers are throwing out to the buyers, not many people have taken advantage. 2007 is totally a buyers market! There is no better time to buy than now.

Buying a home in 2005 has never been tougher. Buyers from different parts of the country were eager to jump into real estate investing. Most homes here in the Tampa area were bought by real estate investors and resold with a decent profit. Because of various trends that started in 2003, home prices rose to ridiculous prices. In 2003, the average home price in the the Tampa area was at $150,000. In 2005, it went up to about $250,000. New construction homes used to go up in price every quarter and then it started going up about $5,000.00 a month. This seems unexplainable. But what do you expect when suddenly a surge of home buyers are coming out of nowhere?

So, the big question in 2006 was: “Is it still the right time to buy?” Comparing prices of homes in California, Las Vegas or even Sarasota, FL, homes in the Tampa area were still considerably lower. Builder inventory homes were down and not easy to find. Lotteries and waiting lists were very common.

In late 2006 and early 2007, inventories of new construction homes were back up and sits in communities with little to no buyers to come and see. To sell all this homes, Tampa Bay area builders brought their prices down to between $15,000 and $60,000 off the original selling price and were giving so much incentives which brought the new construction home ‘sold’ statistic up by end of April 2007.

It’s also no secret that home foreclosures have risen in the past few months. New investors who basically jumped too late in the real estate market in the last 3 years had gotten bitten. This does not mean that buying a property in today’s market will give the same result. Home prices has certainly leveled down here in the Tampa area. I recently saw a 2,100 sq/ft home built in 2005 with 3 bedroom, 2 bath and 3 car garage, den and a 1 year old pool with fence listed for at least $30,000 less than it’s appraised value. This is a steal!

There are plenty of homes out there right now to choose from. So, if you’re a first time buyer or an experienced one – and still debating, its always an advantage to know as much information as you can in today’s market. Don’t wait, the time is now. Before shopping, go through the list below to get prepared.

  • Know your budget. A pre-qualification process will give you an informed opinion on what you can afford.
  • Gather information on the true cost of home ownership – taxes, insurance, closing costs, and upkeep.
  • Pre-approval is based on the documentation and verified information you supply concerning your income, employment and cash flow. This process is a sign of your intent to the seller and proves you are credit worthy.
  • Know your neighborhoods and decide where you want to live. Is it important to be close to your job or services such as restaurants and entertainment? Or would you rather live in a more secluded area? Talk to your potential neighbors and visit the area during different times of the day.
  • Decide what kind of house would work best for you. Will you be more comfortable in a colonial 2 story or a condominium? What are the important elements in a home – a big back yard, a large kitchen and dining area for entertaining, a garage? Keep a list and make sure your Real Estate professional knows what you want!
  • If your search includes new homes, choose a reputable builder and make sure you have in writing the cost of the ‘bare bones’ plus an itemized list of any upgrades. And know that a new house may cost a bit more than one that is pre-existing. (Tip: Check on any hidden operating costs such as homeowners’ association fees and CDD’s.)