Buying Miami Real Estate Tips

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Is a Home Inspection important?

Inspecting Your Florida Home

A home inspection is an important part of buying real estate in Miami, Florida. A home inspection typically includes an examination of heating and central air conditioning systems, interior plumbing, electrical systems, the roof, attic, visible insulation, walls, ceilings, floors, windows, foundations, and basements. Inspections may also include appliances and outdoor plumbing. Once the inspector examines the house, he or she will write up a report with findings. If there are any major problems, you'll need to negotiate with the seller to either lower the sale price of the home, or determine how the problem will be fixed.

How much do I offer for a home?

What To Offer

When you prepare an offer to purchase a home, you already know the seller's asking price. But what price are you going to offer and how do you come up with that figure? First, you look at recent sales of similar properties to come up with a price range. Your real estate agent can help you get that information. Then, analyze additional data, such as the condition of the home, improvements made to the property, current market conditions, and the circumstances of the seller. This will help you settle on a "fair" price for the home. Finally, depending on your negotiating style, you adjust your fair price and come up with what you want to put in your offer.

What is an escrow?


An escrow is a deposit of funds, a deed or other instrument by one party for the delivery to another party upon completion of a particular condition or event. Escrow works the same nation wide. Whether you are buying a florida home or selling real estate in Miami, Florida you want the assurance that no funds or property will change hands until ALL of the instructions in the transaction have been followed. The escrow holder has the obligation to safeguard the funds and/or documents while they are in the possession of the escrow holder, and to disburse funds and/or convey title only when all provisions of the escrow have been complied with.

Why is a Miami home inspection important?

Home Inspection

Home inspections are a part of the real estate buying process for a very important reason. After your offer has been accepted, but before you sign the Purchase and Sale agreement, you must get a home inspection. This will reveal any problems with the home that are not immediately evident.

Major issues like problems with the foundation, the structure of the building, termite damage, hidden water damage and problems with the plumbing or electrical systems should be discovered by your home inspector. In many cases this leads to further negotiations with your seller. Don't be afraid to ask for cash at closing if there is a problem that needs attention.

Now, if the price is already low and they disclosed the issue to you before you made your offer, they may be less willing to negotiate. Many sellers will be up front about any issues and make it clear that they have already discounted the price to absorb the cost of the repair or renovation.

In Florida, it is very important that you get a home inspection from a reputable inspector. Hurricane and flood damage are sometimes easy to hide, and you don't want to get into the house and have no recourse for fixing problems that were missed prior to the sale.

How can I negotiate if my propective home needs repairs?

Negotiation Strategies for Miami Home Buying

No one likes to give money away, but a monetary credit from the seller to the buyer can solve a problem that might otherwise derail a home-sale transaction. Suppose the dream florida home you've had your eye on needs some major, unexpected repairs? It can be a deal-breaker. Another option is for the buyers to ask the sellers to credit them enough money to cover the necessary repairs. If the sellers are willing, the transaction stays together. The sellers will net get less from the sale, but the sale will close. If more time on the market means less money for the seller, this could be an acceptable solution for both parties.

What is a purchase and sale agreement?

The Purchase and Sale Agreement

Once your offer has been accepted and your home inspection is complete, you'll need to draft, or have a lawyer draft a Purchase and Sale agreement. This will outline the specifics of the property transfer and will include:

  • Both Parties Names
  • Purchase Price
  • Deposit (If any)
  • Closing Date
  • Conditions for closing - including any repairs, cash back at closing or other clauses
  • The appliances that will remain with the home

The P&S highlights some other facets of the deal, but is primarily designed to protect both parties and their commitment to the sale. For instance, if the buyer backs out for any reason other than those set out in the Purchase and Sale, they will most likely forfeit their deposit.

Why role does the appraisal play in a Miami home purchase?

The Appraisal and the Purchase

If you are buying a home, one of the key components to securing financing will be the appraisal of the property you want to buy. The bank needs to confirm that you are buying the home for a reasonable price and that if they needed to sell it because of foreclosure, they could get their money back.

The appraisal is based on the establishing the fair market value of your home. This means assessing the square footage, any important features of the home, like fireplaces, garages, bathtubs, number of bedrooms and the lot size and then comparing your home to like homes that have sold in the area. Obviously it's far better to have your home appraise higher than the price at which you are buying. If the appraisal doesn't meet the standards of your lender, you may be in for a headache.

In some cases you can renegotiate the price with your seller, but in many cases you are just out of luck. One way to ensure that you won't lose your deposit is to make a note in the purchase and sale agreement that you can back out of the deal if the house does not appraise properly. Do your homework and look at properties in the area - this will help you make sure you're choosing the right home and getting a good value.

What is title insurance?

Title Insurance in Florida

A title insurance policy protects against losses that occur when you discover after closing that someone else can claim ownership of the property. Title Insurace for your Florida home is very important. If the rights of a previous owner were overlooked during your title examination or a search that came before it, the other party could take your home. As with many other things in life, there is no substitute for doing your homework.

If I am selling my Miami home, should I get a professional appraisal?

Tha Appraisal and the Sale

If you are ready to sell your home, you may want to consider getting a professional appraisal. For a few hundred dollars you are securing the knowledge of what you should be selling the house for and securing the back up you need should a Realtor or buyer balk at your asking price.

If you are going with a FSBO (For Sale By Owner) you absolutely need this information at your fingertips. By securing the appraisal and getting a solid selling price for you home, you can also make a better judgement on what you can afford to buy on the other end of your transaction. The size of your downpayment will play heavily into how much home you can purchase. Showing the bank the appraised value of your home will go a long way to securing the pre-approval for the amount you want.

Finally, by getting an independant appraisal of your Miami home or condo, you can also get information about how much the value of your home would increase with added amenities like an additional bathroom, a Jacuzzi tub or new appliances. In some cases the initial investment in items like these can yield signifigant payoffs at the closing table.

How do I find a Miami home appraiser?

Finding a Miami Appraiser

Finding a Miami home appraiser is not terrifically complicated. If you are using a Realtor, they will most likely have a few recommendations from which you can choose. Your mortgage lender may even take care of it for you as part of your closing package. If you are not using a real estate agent or your lender doesn't take care of the appraisal for you, you can turn to any friends or relatives who have recently conducted the purchase or sale of a home. Personal referrals are always best.

Finally, you can turn to the Yellow Pages or to the Internet. There are national appraiser directories out on the web, but your best bet will be to search in Google, MSN or Yahoo under Miami Appraiser or Miami home appraiser.

You want to make sure they are accredited and in good standing. Establish if they have any references and how long they have been in business. Find out their rates and make sure they are comparable to the industry standard. Finally, make and appointment and away you go!

What is a title examination? Is it important?

Title Examination

A title examination or title search is a crucial part of the homebuying process. It is a close examination of all public records that involve title to the Florida real estate you are purchasing. The person conducting the search looks at past deeds, wills, and trusts to make sure the "chain of title" has passed correctly to each new owner. The examiner also tries to verify that all prior mortgages, judgments, and other liens have been paid in full.

What makes a great offer on a Miami home or Miami condo?

The Offer

When you find a Miami home you love, it's time to submit an offer to the seller. Depending on the part of Miami you choose, Miami condos and homes may be selling for above or below asking price. It also depends on the condo or home itself. If you are using a Realtor, they will offer some guidance as to how much you should offer so that you get the best deal possible without alienating the seller by offering too little. Other factors to consider when coming up with your offer:

  1. How much can you afford? If the Miami home or condo is close to your budget limit, you may want to start low so that the seller's counter offer is still in your budget.
  2. How long as the Miami home or condo been on the market? If the home has been available for some time and has not sold, you may have an anxious seller. You can use this to your advantage during negotiations.
  3. Does there seem to be competition?

If you went to the open house and there were a lot of people attending, chances are the seller's are going to get other offers. If you really want this Miami condo or home, be careful how low you go in your offer.

How do I find a Miami home inspector?

Finding a Home Inspector

Home inspections should not be handled by anyone but you, the buyer. Yes, you can get recommendations on who to use from your Realtor, and yes, you can let your Realtor handle any negotiations, but the quality of your home inspection and your home inspector falls on your shoulders. If you choose a disreputable home inspector, or someone without sufficient experience and qualifications, you will be sorry.

Personal referrals are best - if you can get a recommendation from friends or family who have experience with the individual you are more likely to have a positive experience. In lieu of that, get recommendations from your Realtor or your mortgage broker. Finally, look in the Yellow Pages or online. If you can get references, do. Remember that this person can make or break your negotiations for the home and your repair bills, or lack there of, down the line.

What should I look for during my Miami home inspection and walk through?

The Walk Through

When you conduct a walk through of your new construction Miami home, or your older Miami home, you should be armed with a checklist of things to look out for. If you can, make sure these items are addressed in the home inspection, but either way, make sure you know what you are looking for or you bring someone who does know. Here is a great list to help you learn what to be wary of in your Miami home inspection or walk through:

  • Plumbing leaks, noisy pipes and any signs of a roof leak.
  • Loose or damaged roof tiles or shingles.
  • Check all doors and windows to ensure they are in working condition.
  • Make sure all heating and cooling units are fully functional and make sure all drains and clear and in working order.
  • Verify that all the fixtures are working, that the kitchen and bathroom drains are in working order and that there are no blocked sewer lines.
  • Make sure the appliances are functional if they were furnished by the builder/developer.
  • Make sure all electrical fixtures and outlets are in working order.
  • Walk the property to look for any potential drainage issues.
  • Make sure all the cabinets in the home (kitchen and bathroom) and working.
  • Check for any unfinished areas around windows and doors.
  • Make sure there is sufficient insulation in the attic or crawlspace.
  • Make sure all conditions of the contract have been met and satisfied in full. If there were any changes from the original plans, you should know about them.
  • Ensure that all floor tiles are intact.
  • Make sure all of the finishing work is high quality (painting, finishes, molding, etc.)
  • Make sure any installed alarm or intercom system is working.
  • Make sure all landscaping requirements have been included (sprinklers, shrubbery, etc.)

How can I find a Home Inspector?

Finding a Home Inspector in Florida

To find a good home inspector when you are buying a florida home, the American Society of Home Inspectors is a good place to start. Just because an inspector is an ASHI member doesn't guarantee that you'll get a good inspection, but it certainly increases the likelihood that you'll be working with a qualified professional. All certified members have performed at least 250 inspections have passed two written proficiency exams. They must also adhere to standards of practice, continuing education requirements, and code of ethics.

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Carma Spence-Pothitt