Shopping for Miami Real Estate Tips

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Do I want an older Miami home or a new construction Miami home?

Fixer Upper: Character or Money Pit?

There are a lot of great older homes in the Miami area. Classic bungalows and Art Deco architecture and dot the greater Miami area and maybe one of these homes is just right for you. Older homes come with their share of history and character, but they can also come with problems, be they plumbing, electrical or even structural. If you are going to buy an older home, especially a "fixer upper" then you need to arm yourself with knowledge.

  1. Is this something you can do yourself or are you going to need professional help? If you are going to need a contractor, make sure you get a ballpark on what your repairs or renovations are going to cost before you sign on the dotted line. You may be able to negotiate a better price.
  2. Do you have the money and time to invest? If you are going to be a weekend warrior in the house rehab game, and there is a substantial work to be done, be wary. You don't want to live in chaos for years. Additionally, the chances are that other repairs will reveal themselves down the line. An older home needs upkeep.
  3. How are the home values in the neighborhood? Make sure you buy a home in a Miami neighborhood where real estate values are moving up. That way, even if you decide your older Miami home is not right for you, you'll still have made some money on your investment.

How can I tell if I am dealing with an unmotivated Miami condo or Miami home seller?

Avoiding the Wrong Seller

Have you found the Miami home of your dreams but you just can't seem to get the property under agreement? You may be falling curse to the unmotivated seller. This is a situation you want to avoid unless you have infinite money and patience. Here are some signs that you may be dealing with a seller who just doesn't want to sell.

  1. Are they or their broker really hard to get a hold of? Do they always take a few days to get back to you?
  2. Do they seem unwilling to bend on price, repairs or closing negotiations?
  3. Do they seem to want to avoid a home inspection or a home appraisal?
  4. Are they unresponsive to issues with their title or deed?
  5. Are they pushing the closing date off every few weeks?

These are just some of the signs of a bad seller. One of the ways to avoid this situation is by encouraging honestly whenever possible during the purchase and sale process. This is also a great example of the importance of having a savvy broker. No matter what, make sure you won't get the short end of the stick because you've fallen in love with a property.

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

Making a Great Offer

If you've shopped for a Miami home or Miami condo before, the chances are you may have submitted and offer on a home and been turned down because a superior offer came to the seller. What makes a superior offer?

  1. Large down payment and deposit. Folks with 20% to put down look great to sellers. This indicates a lower risk loan for banks which means a better buyer to the seller. After all, they don't want to accept an offer only to have the buyer's financing fall through.
  2. Pre-Approval in hand. You should have your pre-approval in hand, and it should be for more than the price of the home on which you are bidding. If your seller sees that your budget is too tight, they may reject your offer because they want a buyer with more secure finances.
  3. Flexibility. Your seller may need a flexible closing date or move out date and your ability and willingness to be flexible can make or break a deal.
  4. Your Broker. This may sounds ridiculous, but you need to make sure the politics of Realtors don't get in your way. If you have hired a less reputable Realtor, or one who doesn't have good contacts and good relationships within their industry, it can hurt your chances of securing the property you want.

How do I find the right home mortgage for my Miami home?

Finding the Right Home Mortgage

If you are ready to shop for a Miami Condo or a single family Miami home, make sure you get pre-approved before you start looking. In today's Miami real estate market, your offer needs to look better than that of your potential competitor.

You should have a solid down payment and a pre-approval letter in hand that shows you can get financing for the home you want. You used to be able to look around at homes and then secure financing after signing the offer or the Purchase and Sale agreement, but these days that's just too risky. Additionally, by getting pre-approved for your Miami home loan, you'll ensure that you shop within your budget.

How do I develop a Miami real estate buying plan?

Your Buying Plan

No one should go into a home buying situation on a whim or without developing a buying plan. A buying plan basically means that you or you and your partner and/or family have established the criteria that are important to you in your home buying. For instance:

  • How much space do you need in your Miami condo or Miami home?
  • How much money can you spend?
  • Do you need to be near schools?
  • Are you more interested in being near night life?
  • Do you want a back yard, or is a terrace sufficient outdoor space?
  • Finally, and perhaps the most important - what are you willing to compromise on and what aren't you willing to give up?

By establishing your budget through pre-approval and discussing the features you need in a home and neighborhood before you buy, you won't fall into the trap of buying the first thing you see because it "seems" perfect. Be smart and be prepared and you'll end up with the best Miami home for you.

How can I find the right Miami home or Miami condo seller?

Finding the Right Seller

Have you ever gone to a garage sale about an hour before they are about to close up? Have you noticed how many items are now deeply discounted if not free? The same goes with real estate. No, you probably aren't getting a Miami condo or a Miami home for free, but you can get a much better deal if you find The Right Seller.

Highly motivated sellers may want to make some money on their investment, but they are sometimes more interested in just getting the sale of the property over with. For instance, perhaps they have already purchased another home and have moved. Or, perhaps they bought the property as an investment and they are anxious to liquidate. Perhaps the sellers are divorcing and liquidating joint assets. You never know - unless you ask.

Has the property been on the market for a while? Does the seller or agent return your calls immediately? These are some signs of "the right" seller. If you can, find out why the seller wants out. If you can identify an anxious seller, you may be able to negotiate a lower price, a quicker closing date or perhaps having your closing costs covered.

Should I choose based on the Miami home or Miami condo, or should I focus more on the Miami neighborhood?

Miami Home Vs. Miami Neighborhood

When you develop your Miami real estate buying plan, you should already have a strong idea of what you can and can't live without. Some people will take a "hit" on the neighborhood to have a larger home, while others will live in a smaller or less opulent home to get into the neighborhood they've always wanted.

Neither choice is the "right" one - it all depends on your needs and lifestyle.

One thing to consider is that you can always change your home - add on, rebuild or renovate - but their isn't much one person can do about a neighborhood or community. In many cases, you'll be able to figure out if a neighborhood is "up and coming" or "going downhill" or is just stable. If you are using a Realtor, this is the kind of information they will have on hand. You can discover this too by keeping up on local news and developments in the neighborhoods you are considering.

A great Miami real estate tip: Try to buy the ugliest house in the best neighborhood. In a couple of years you'll have enough equity to overhaul your home and you'll be secure in your happy community.

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Ray Lokar