Buyers Most Frequently Asked Questions

Whether it’s your first time buying a home or your tenth, it’s okay to have questions. From what to expect to pay for closing costs, how much you really need for a downpayment or even trying to figure out what’s the deal with all the real estate lingo – we’ve got you covered.

How do I know if a home is listed at a good price?

Home prices vary depending on the location, the square footage and any features and finishes. Look at what other homes are listed at and selling for in your neighborhood of interest – is it above, below or about the same as the home you’re looking at?

Talk with your agent and have them run a full market analysis before writing an offer so you have the numbers and facts to back up your offer price You can also sign up for daily listing updates that will email the latest listings straight to your inbox each afternoon so you can track what homes are coming on the market, how much they’re listed for and what condition they’re in. Learn more here.

What if I put an offer on a home and then decide that I don’t want to buy it?

Putting an offer to purchase a home is a big decision; really think through your wants and needs in a home before you make the commitment and submit an earnest money deposit that binds you to the home. That said, if you change your mind after you place an offer on a home due to something coming up during the home inspection or something with your financing application, you do have the option to terminate your agreement within a very strict timeframe if you opted for the contingencies in your contract.

Talk contingency deadlines over with your agent before writing any offers to make sure you understand them.

Do I need a real estate agent to buy a home?

No. You can buy a home by yourself, with the help of a lawyer or with a real estate agent. Real estate agents help protect your interests by providing guidance on neighborhoods, specific developments and houses, negotiate prices and conditions, help with obtaining financing/home inspections/contractors and have an in-depth knowledge of the local market.

Of course I’m biased, but if you’re about to make the biggest financial investment of your life, wouldn’t you want to partner with a professional who works with the real estate market every day?

How much does it cost to work with a buyers agent?

In Northeast Florida it’s customary for the seller to pay any fees associated with the selling and listing brokerages. That means that unless something else is negotiated in the contract, you can expect the seller to pay any broker fees in exchange for bringing a buyer to their listing.

What is earnest money and how much do I need?

When you make an offer on a house and it’s accepted by the Seller, you’ll need to submit a deposit of earnest money to the escrow account at the title attorney’s office. This money is a small percentage of the purchase price (standard in Northeast Florida is around 1% of the purchase price) and will be credited back to you at closing as either part of your down payment or go towards your closing costs. It’s a standard gesture that shows you are serious about your offer.

Do I need 20% down payment?

This depends on the type of home you’re buying. If you’re a first-time homebuyer purchasing your primary residence, you can expect to put down as little as 3.5% for an FHA loan or 3 to 5% for a conventional loan. If you’re purchasing an investment property, it’s going to be around 20% down. The same goes for a second home (such as a vacation place). If you’re purchasing a condo, you might also end up putting more down for the purchase because lenders see them as riskier.

When meeting with your lender for the first time, make sure to talk over what you should expect to put down based on the loan package you choose and type of home you’re looking to buy.

If you’re a first-time homebuyer worried about coming up with the money for a downpayment, check out our article on Down Payment Saving Strategies over on the blog.

How long does it take to close on a home or condo?

This number can vary quite a bit depending on the type of financing you’re using, the particular lender you are working with, the state of the title for the home and if anything comes up during the inspection and financing periods of the timeline. Some buyers can close on a home in as soon as 2 weeks, or it can take close to a year to get to the closing table.

In Jacksonville, you can typically expect a home sale to take anywhere from 30 to 60 days.

What happens if my home inspector misses something?

Before a home inspection, you’ll be asked to sign an agreement that will detail the home inspector’s liability, as well as detail the limits of what they are inspecting. While you can expect the home inspector to inspect the appliances, the roof, underneath sinks, etc., by law they can’t open any walls or tear up floors – so anything that’s in a wall you want to take down or hiding under the carpet is going to be unable to be found until after you’ve closed and have legal ownership of the property.

It’s important to vet your home inspector to make sure they are properly insured, certified and have a good reputation and recommendations from past clients.

You can check out an article on what to expect during your home inspection here.

Is it a good time to buy a home in Jacksonville?

It’s a great time to buy a home in Jacksonville; we’re seeing more new construction homes in neighborhoods across the First Coast, resale values are holding steady and interest rates are still pretty darn low. Whether you’re looking for an investment property, a home you want to live in for 30 years or just a starter home to get you on the right foot and out of the rental game; there are some great options out there.

Talk with your agent to set up a search so you can start seeing daily listing updates and learn what’s on the market plus how often homes are going for sale in your preferred neighborhood.

How do I choose the right lender and loan?

Get recommendations from friends, co-workers and family on who they’ve used in the past and have had a good experience with. You can also ask your Realtor for the names of some mortgage lenders they’ve done business with who may work for you and your needs. Make sure you get at least 2 to 3 to compare.

Meet them in person if you can, ask them some questions (here are 10 good go-to’s for when you’re first meeting them) and decide if you’ll work well together and if they have a loan package that will work for you based on what you’re able to spend on a down payment, your credit score and your monthly budget.

How do I know if I’m buying the right home for me?

The best way? Make a list of your must-haves, wants and any deal breakers for your next home. Everyone’s got ‘em.

Hold the list close and check it twice when going on showings or touring open houses. Besides spending too much, the other worst thing you could do when buying is to stray from your preferred location. Learn more about ending up happy with your home from this video in my Q&A Tuesday series.

How can I buy a house if I have no money and bad credit?

I think the better question is why would you want to buy a home? Owning a home isn’t right for everyone, and you certainly don’t want to buy a house just to buy one. Take time to save up for a down payment, make sure you’re comfortable with setting aside a portion of your monthly budget towards house costs like mortgage payments, property taxes, home insurance, etc.

You can talk with a lender to get a better idea of where your credit is at, how to improve it and what type of loans might be a good fit for you down the road, but the last thing you want to do is sign up

What should I know before buying a home that is going to need renovating?

You’re going to need some options and estimates. Depending on the work that needs to be done, schedule to have a general contractor meet you at the house to walk through with you during the home inspection and give you estimates on the projects. It always helps to bring in the professionals.

If you’re planning on making any changes to the exterior of the home (or if you’re buying a condo), make sure to check if the neighborhood has any guidelines or restrictions for home improvements that could hinder your plans. Always call the Homeowners Association or Condo Association to see what you would need approval for before buying or starting any renovations.

Where are the best schools in Jacksonville?

Everyone has a different definition of what makes a great school. An easy tool to research and compare schools across Jacksonville is the Duval Schools Locator Tool, check it out here.

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