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Confessions of a First-Time Home Buyer in Lakewood Ranch

Judy Limekiller  |  May 21, 2023

Confessions of a First-Time Home Buyer in Lakewood Ranch
 
So, you have decided to look for homes for sale in Lakewood Ranch, Florida. Congratulations! This master-planned community has much appeal for real estate seekers, replete with gorgeous golf courses and polo fields, outdoor nature trails, green spaces, and fantastic dining spots. Before you begin your home-buying journey as a first-time home buyer in this wonderful locale, though, check out some of these crucial lessons learned from previous buyers of Lakewood Ranch real estate.

Review your finances

Photo courtesy of Pexels
 
Before immersing yourself in real estate listings, the first thing to do is spend some time preparing your finances and understanding what you can afford. Take the necessary financial steps to make your home-buying dream a reality. The more equipped you are for the home-buying process, the more successful you will be when you find the perfect home for you and your family.

As part of reviewing your finances, it is best to determine early on what your budget is and keep that number in mind as you look for your first home. Your budget will include the mortgage and closing costs, property taxes, maintenance, utilities, and homeowners insurance. Additionally, when creating your budget, you will want to be prepared for any unexpected repairs, possible renovations, or remodeling costs.

If you are not paying cash for your luxury home, you will need to determine your down payment based on your budget. Standard down payments span from 3.5% to 20%. Meeting with an experienced loan officer is one way to determine the best course of action for your down payment based on the size and cost of the luxury homes you are touring. Essentially, the more money you put down on the house, the less risky you are to a bank and the more likely they will approve your mortgage.

Pre-qualification versus pre-approval

You may hear the terms “pre-qualified” and “pre-approval” when discussing purchasing your first home. These two terms have two very different meanings, so understanding the differences is crucial.

Pre-qualification is an initial step meant to give you an idea of the loan size you can take. Information gathered in the pre-qualification process is based on what you submit as a potential homeowner. This process is reasonably fast and often occurs in one to three business days. At the end of the process, you will receive a pre-qualification letter.
 
Photo courtesy of Pexels
 
On the other hand, pre-approval is an additional step requiring a more in-depth analysis of your financial situation. Pre-approval is accomplished by confirming your information and running a credit check, verifying your income, looking into your checking and savings accounts, and having a lender review your assets and debt to determine the amount you can borrow. In the eyes of sellers, a pre-approval letter means more than a pre-qualification letter.

Sellers are interested in buyers with pre-approval over pre-qualification because the odds of the deal going through are higher when a bank has already issued a pre-approval letter to the buyer. Another benefit of the pre-approval process is that lenders will often lock in an interest rate for a set period, allowing you to find your home, place an offer, and receive a guaranteed interest rate.

Identify your home-buying goals

Luxury home buyers of Lakewood Ranch real estate are in a unique position to access numerous upscale amenities, thanks to their hefty budgets. However, it is still essential to understand and identify your needs and wants throughout the home-buying process. By creating a list of requirements and wants, you will more easily be able to eliminate homes that do not fit your particular financial or lifestyle situation.
 
You can also be more objective and steer clear of emotional buying, avoiding buyer’s regret down the road. Devising this list allows you to find the best house for your needs while understanding which compromises you may need to make along the way. Additionally, when you find the right home, you will be able to take action because you will be able to identify the house as meeting both your needs and wants.

Consider which items are non-negotiable for your needs checklist. Maybe it is the location, number of bathrooms or bedrooms, specific features ― such as a pool or outdoor kitchen ― availability of outdoor space, energy efficiency, and more. Of course, not every home will meet each need. With this checklist in hand, you can eliminate the homes that do not meet your non-negotiable requirements. However, when it comes to wants, there are compromises you may need to make. If a home does not include a specific feature you would like, you may decide to add it during a renovation after you purchase the house.

Remember to think about the financial, lifestyle, and investment goals you may have when purchasing your first Lakewood Ranch property. Is this a long-term property for you and your family? A legacy property? Or are you planning on moving again in the next five years? It is essential to keep these considerations in mind as you embark on your home-buying journey.

Work with an experienced realtor

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock
 
Buying your first home is an exciting moment in your life, and it should be an enjoyable process from beginning to end. Fortunately, there is an easy way to make the process stress-free and fun. Working with an experienced realtor who understands the unique situation of first-time home buyers will help you navigate the home-buying process and ensure you find the perfect home for you and your family.

A Lakewood Ranch real estate agent who is experienced in the luxury market is invaluable when purchasing your first home. They have encountered specific issues you may be unaware of, and they will be able to identify these concerns and offer possible solutions. Maybe there is evidence of a plumbing problem or something wrong with the HVAC system. They have seen numerous issues and are a helpful resource when looking at the details of your first home.

Realtors are experts at handling every aspect of the buying process. They are superb negotiators and are experienced at completing all the necessary paperwork to finalize the purchase of your new home. When interviewing realtors, determine if attention to detail is one of their top priorities. They should be well-organized and prepared to show you available Lakewood Ranch homes for sale on the market. Additionally, they should be ready to advise you on the purchase price of each home you view and answer all your questions related to the home-buying process.

Another benefit of teaming up with a realtor is their understanding and knowledge of the local housing market. They can explain the differences within each community while keeping your goals in mind. Be sure to look for a realtor with excellent communication skills who can work with you and the selling agent, as well as the other professionals they will be interacting with throughout the process, such as loan officers, inspectors, and real estate attorneys.

Ready to purchase your first home in Lakewood Ranch? Judy Limekiller’s experience, dedication, attention to detail, and exceptional negotiating skills will make your home-buying journey stress-free and enjoyable. Contact Judy today to view available homes for sale in Lakewood Ranch.

*Header Photo courtesy of Pexels




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