Buying a Georgia or Florida Home?
The real estate laws that guide real estate agents decisions are different for each state. Many states will mimic other states and write similar real estate laws. However, Florida and Georgia, even while bordering one another, have differing views on how the real estate market should be regulated. As a result, the home buying process can vary when buying a home in Georgia compared to buying a home in Florida.
Keeping in mind that the home buying process may vary from Georgia to Florida, there are parts of the real estate market that is more about the buyers and sellers approach, mind-set, and willingness to be honest with their selves. We cover the nuances of the Florida home buying process and the Georgia home buying process on separate pages. This page is dedicated to the aspects that are likely going to be similar no matter what state you are purchasing a home in.
Whether you are buying your first home or buying your fifth, the process of buying a home can be an emotional, time-consuming venture. Feeling that, in the end, you made the right decision and got a good deal can make all the difference in your short-term sense of success and your long-term happiness in the home you have bought. As with most major decisions, the amount of work and research you undertake before you start shopping for your Florida or Georgia home can have a dramatic effect on how well you do in the end.
#1 – Do You Really Need that Backyard Tennis Court when You Buy Your Georgia or Florida Home?
Everyone can picture their ideal home. If you have not thoroughly prepared yourself prior to viewing houses, chances are that you will find what you think is your ideal home and you will wind-up paying too much for it.
It is essential to treat the buying process in a slightly detached manner. Those who fall in love with houses usually pay too much. Whether it is a tennis court, a pool, or some other aspect of the home that has captured your attention, make sure you are not falling in love with a “want” that causes you to buy a Georgia or Florida home that is beyond your original objective.
We recommend that you develop a list of needs and a list of wants. When looking at houses, make sure that they cover all of your needs – things like adequate space, a good neighborhood, perhaps a garage – and then have fun with items on your wants list. Treating the process in a regimented manner will help you to make a rational, informed decision.
#2 – Get Pre-Approved by a Mortgage Company that Operates in Florida or Georgia
Visit your preferred Florida or Georgia lending institution prior to shopping. Be sure to get a mortgage commitment in writing. Being pre-approved gives you a solid price range, and lets your Realtor® and potential sellers know that you are serious and not just a browser. This also gives you a personal sense of confidence that you are in position to buy the home you decide on, and that confidence is likely going to influence your negotiating position.
#3 – Get the Right People Behind You
Buying a home, whether buying a home in Georgia or buying a home in Florida, is a complicated process, with many people involved. Having the right people on your side can make a big difference. An experienced, dedicated, and knowledgeable real estate agent can put a team of advocates, including lenders, lawyers, home inspectors and movers, on your side immediately. If you decide to use a real estate agent, make sure that the real estate agent is licensed in Georgia or Florida (or both) and is only working in the state in which they hold a real estate license.
While having a real estate agent is a smart move, it is not a requirement. Many home buyers are savvy are very capable of buying a Florida home or buying a Georgia home without the assistance of a real estate agent. One important point you should know is that if you buy a home that is listed for sale through a real estate agent, the seller has probably already built-in the cost of a buyer’s agent bringing a buyer to the deal. By not using a real estate agent to help you buy, you probably do not save money, you probably are paying the sellers agent more money (because he/she gets the credit for bringing you to the deal), and that sellers agent is legally responsible to look-out for the sellers financial interests – not yours. These details vary by state and you will want to know how the laws are different for Florida Buyer’s agents and Georgia Buyer’s agents.
#4 – Communicate
The more you share with your real estate agent the better he or she will be able to represent you. Letting your representative know exactly what you’re looking for, in terms of needs/wants, price range, and location, can eliminate unnecessary trips to unsuitable homes and that focus can help ensure that you wind up in the right home.
#5 – Location, Location, Location
It is still true. The desirability and resale value of your Florida or Georgia home depend on location more than any other factor. People want a desirable community that includes character, quality of schools, access to work, major transportation arteries, recreational facilities, etc.
On your viewing trips, take a careful look and ask the following questions: How does this home compare to others in the neighborhood? Are yards fenced? Are there many children playing in the streets? Are the front and back yards and the exteriors of the homes properly maintained? The less expensive houses in a better area tend to appreciate faster than the most expensive houses in a less desirable area.
Additional factors that affect the property value of a Georgia or Florida home include traffic, sounds, smells, zoning bylaws, and many others. BE OBJECTIVE! Be sure you are completely satisfied with the neighborhood. If you choose a Florida or Georgia neighborhood with problems, you likely won’t get as much as you hoped with it comes time to sell.
#6 – Use Your Georgia or Florida Real Estate Agent’s Knowledge
Your real estate agent is likely trained in all aspects of real estate, including understanding supply and demand, economics, and the neighborhoods of the city in which they practice. A professional real estate agent can do much of the work for you, by reviewing your needs, reviewing available properties, and making an informed match. A comprehensive knowledge of the available homes in your preferred neighborhood is one of your real estate agent’s strongest assets. With the aid of computerized systems, a real estate agent is notified within hours when a home becomes available. Florida real estate agents typically use a different computer system than Georgia real estate agents do. If you are buying a home in the border area and have not decided whether you want to buy a home in Georgia or buy a home in Florida, you may want to find an agent that holds a real estate license and works in both Georgia and Florida.
#7 – Pay Attention to Red Flags
Whether evaluating a Georgia or Florida home, be sure you know the difference between acceptable and unacceptable problems. Cosmetic items like peeling paint, worn carpeting, or unattractive wallpaper can be easily remedied, and can be used as negotiation items, as there will be costs involved in updating the home.
Major problems, however, are clearly red flags. Look for items such as major foundation cracks, water damage, outdated electrical systems, and inadequate plumbing. These items could be too expensive to remedy to make the home a worthwhile investment.
#8 Hire a Georgia or Florida Home Inspector
A home inspection is an inexpensive way to gain peace of mind, and guard your pocket book. A proper inspection will cover all areas of the house including foundation, electrical, heating, plumbing, floors, walls, ceilings, attic, roof, siding and trim, porches, patios, decks, garage and drainage. A professional inspector can give you an objective view of the property, with a written report, indicating the present condition and items that will need repair.
The laws and/or requirements for home inspectors may vary between home inspectors working Florida and home inspectors working in Georgia. If you are working with a real estate agent they may provide you with a list of reputable home inspectors. Make sure you are comfortable and can trust the home inspector as you are likely going to depend on their view of the home you are about to purchase.
#9 – Know the Seller of Your Potential Georgia Home or Florida Home
Understanding a seller’s reasons for moving could work to your advantage during negotiations. For instance, a seller who has been transferred from Jacksonville, Florida to Savannah, Georgia may be more motivated to sell their Florida home so they can buy a Georgia home compared to a home seller who is not moving out of the area and is still shopping for a new home locally. A vacant house, or a house that has been on the market for several months and has been reduced in price, could also provide the opportunity for lucrative negotiations.
#10 – Get it in Writing
Legally, sellers must disclose all known material defects of a property. This is almost certainly whether you are buying a home in Georgia or buying a home in Florida. Buyers typically have an expectation that is probably supported by law, that sellers must disclose material defects of a home. Ask for a written list of material defects and make sure that the list is signed and dated by the seller. Also be sure to consider the ramifications of these defects. Will they be costly down the road? Are they “serious” defects?
I hope that you have found this information helpful. These general insights can help you have a smooth, positive, and confident experience when you buy a home in Florida or buy a home in Georgia…or any other state for that matter. While much of the reference to home buying strategy makes general reference to Florida or Georgia, we typically deal with very specific real estate markets in those states. The strategies very likely apply no matter where you are, and any laws that impact your home purchase are almost certainly laws that apply across the entire state. So if you find a real estate law that applies to Camden County Georgia, it likely applies equally in Chatham County Georgia. Similarly, if you research real estate law that applies to a home purchase in Duval County Florida, it is very likely to also apply to a home purchase in St. Johns County Florida.
We have compiled a list of the counties in Georgia and Florida in which we conduct real estate business. Our list of real estate interests is by county with the cities also listed. We list the cities for ease of reference, but we also deal with other cities in those counties even if they are not listed. Here is our list of the areas that we personally buy homes and sell homes:
Chatham County Georgia
Bryan County Georgia
Liberty County Georgia
McIntosh County Georgia
Glynn County Georgia
St Simons Island
Camden County Georgia
Nassau County Florida
Duval County Florida
St. Johns County Florida
Good luck in your Florida home buying or Georgia home buying pursuit!