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Six Tips for Buying a Home in Tampa

Considering buying a home in Tampa? Making this type of decision is one of the biggest, most exciting times in many people’s lives.

However, it’s easy to get caught up in finding the perfect home in the neighborhood you want and forgetting about many of the practical issues surrounding such a big financial commitment.

Buyers might focus on the right number of bedrooms, the size yard they want or amenities they would prefer. They likely will also want the many benefits of buying a home, including Florida’s homestead exemption that is worth up to $50,000 as well as the fact interest paid on a mortgage is tax deductible.

That’s all good, but there are practical issues that warrant your attention.

This is especially true in Tampa. The housing market in the Tampa Bay metropolitan area – which includes Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater , with the median price of a house rising and the inventory of available homes for purchasing tightening. That doesn’t mean it’s a bad time to buy, it just means you will need to do your homework to find the best deals.

Here are some practical tips to keep in mind before you sign the paperwork on a house purchase.

Hire a professional. Before getting into individual issues, it’s important to understand that a good move to make – maybe the best move – is to hire someone with experience in finding homes for potential buyers and guiding them through the purchase process. While some buyers attempt to skip the relatively low cost of hiring a realtor, it’s often not worth the risk. With the amount of money involved, real estate is an area where you want an expert.

What do you need? Every home is different depending on the needs of the buyer. Refine your search by determining what kind of house and neighborhood you need. Do you want a family home where you can raise kids? Is this an investment property you will want to rent? Are you planning to retire into this home? The answers to these questions can save time by eliminating homes and areas that don’t fit your needs.

Sink holes. This is a big issue in Florida, which has more sinkholes than any other state. It’s become enough of a problem that NASA is working on technology that could give an early warning about sink hole formation. Obviously, a sink hole under any part of your home and property is not only going to displace your family, but also have a large and negative financial impact. You’ll want to at least investigate to find if the area where you are considering buying has any past issues with sink holes.

Thorough home inspection. You will want your own inspection done and not rely on one done by the sellers. The inspection needs to be thorough and look not only for existing issues but also any signs of future problems (cracks in the foundation, for instance, or serious problems with the air conditioning handler system).

Flooding. Take the time to find out whether a home is located on flood plain and whether flooding has occurred in the area during heavy rains (which is a daily event in Florida during the summer). Insurance rates will be higher in areas prone to flooding.

Insurance. It’s critical to get an insurance quote on a home once you’ve signed the contract to buy but before the closing date. You will want the time to shop around and compare prices. Depending on the location of the home, insurance costs can get steep. In addition to the flooding issue mentioned above, there also are standards for wind mitigation and hurricane preparedness (such as straps or ties that connect a wood rafter to the ceiling joist, providing more stability in high winds).

The Tampa Bay area is a beautiful place to buy a home. Keeping these issues in mind can help you find the home you want and make the buying experience that much better. So do your homework and making buying a home in Tampa a pleasant and rewarding experience for you and your family.

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