Buying your first home in Florida can be an exciting but intimidating experience. Florida, with its diverse housing market and emphasis on outdoor living, can be an especially attractive option for first time homebuyers. So whether you are a local who is tired or renting or are considering a cross-country move buying a home in Florida may be the right move for you. Whether you’re drawn to the sandy beaches of Miami or the bustling city streets of Orlando, this guide will help you navigate the home buying process and make your first home purchase a success.
The Florida Real Estate Market
If you’re considering buying a home in Florida, it’s important to understand the factors that shape the state’s real estate market. Florida’s real estate market is influenced by economic expansion, job creation, population growth, and interest rates. Notably, there has been a surge in people moving to Florida from other states, driving up housing demand.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also changed the market, as more individuals prioritize spacious homes with dedicated offices and outdoor spaces. Furthermore, the demand for second homes and holiday homes has seen a notable increase, particularly in warm climate regions offering outdoor recreation options. As a result, Florida’s real estate market is expected to continue to grow in the next 5-10 years.
Florida Homebuying Process
Get your Home Loan Pre-Approval
The first step to buying a home in Florida is getting qualified for your home loan. This can be a simple and easy process starting with completing our quick Buyer Power Approval™.
Choose an Agent
Once you have your budget and the area then it is time to pick an agent that is an expert in the area. Not all agents are equal which is why we have top local real estate professionals ready to help our Savvy Homebuyers.
Complete this quick questionnaire to be connected with our local expert.
Find A Home
It is important to note that the average homebuyer will tour 13 houses in search of their new home. Your agent will set up showings based on the homes that meet your needs and budget for the area.
Due to limited home inventory, we highly recommend moving quickly if you find a home that interests you.
Write an Offer
The offer sets the terms for the purchase contract. Once you and the seller are in agreement on the price and terms the contract period can start.
During this time having a professional examine the condition of major property systems like electricity, plumbing, roofing, etc. will save you from buying a money pit.
Once the inspection is completed an appraisal is scheduled. The appraiser will confirm the value of the home and make a record for the mortgage lender.
Close and Move into Your First Home
Lastly, you will sign loan documents, wire the down payment and closing costs and close on your first home!
How much home can you afford in Florida cost?
The median home price in Florida is around $300,000, but prices can vary significantly depending on the specific city or region.
Required Down Payment Based on Loan Type
The down payment amount you’ll need depends greatly on the type of mortgage loan you choose. Let’s take a closer look at how much you would need to put down for a $300,000 home with each of the five major loan programs:
$9,000 (3.5% down)
A loan that conforms to Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac’s guidelines, including a minimum credit score of 620.
$0 (0% down)
Only available to military service members and veterans who have reached minimum service thresholds. Surviving spouses may also apply.
$10,500 (3.5% down)
Backed by the Federal Housing Administration. Your credit score may be as low as 580 if you have a 3.5% down payment.
$0 (0% down)
You need to purchase in a designated rural area and have a low-to-moderate income for the area where you’re buying.
No-PMI Conventional Loan
$60,000 (20% down)
If you want to avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI) you need 20% down. But you may find lenders that allow you to borrow a second mortgage to bridge the gap between your savings and that 20%.
Estimated monthly mortgage on Florida homes
Florida offers affordable home buying options
When buying a home in Florida, several financial advantages come into play. With no state income tax, residents keep more of their earnings, while the lower cost of living makes housing more affordable. Florida offers diverse housing options for different budgets, along with property tax exemptions. Furthermore, Florida has no estate tax, allowing families to preserve wealth. The market occasionally offers foreclosed properties at discounted prices, adding to the financial benefits of buying a home in the Sunshine State.
Florida First-Time Buyers programs
Florida has taken steps to facilitate homeownership for first-time buyers by creating a range of homebuying assistance programs. The Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC) has been instrumental in offering statewide programs such as:
Florida Housing Finance Corporation (FHFC)
Florida HFA Preferred Conventional Loan
Florida HFA Preferred PLUS Conventional Loan
First-time homebuyer programs like these have taken significant steps to keep homeownership within reach for Florida residents.
Additional Homebuyer Programs by County in Florida
In addition, numerous counties and cities in Florida have also rolled out their own programs, offering personal support. For example, programs like the Homeownership Assistance Program in Miami-Dade County, the Homebuyer Purchase Assistance Program in Broward County, and the Down Payment Assistance Program in Orange County help relieve financial burdens and guide first-time buyers through the process.
Popular Florida Cities for First-Time Homebuyers
Florida has many popular cities for first-time homebuyers, each with its unique charm and characteristics. Miami, Orlando, Tampa, and Jacksonville are all favorite destinations for those seeking a new home.
Miami has beautiful beaches and vibrant nightlife. With a bustling cultural scene and diverse population, it’s a popular choice for young professionals. The city has a thriving arts and entertainment scene, with world-class museums, galleries, and theaters.
Orlando, home to Walt Disney World and Universal Studios, is a family-friendly city with affordable housing options. The city is also home to world-renowned theme parks, making it a popular place to visit for families looking for fun and entertainment.
Tampa, located along the Gulf of Mexico, is perfect for those who love being outside. The city boasts beautiful beaches, scenic parks, and world-class golfing. Tampa’s downtown area has been undergoing a revitalization in recent years, attracting new businesses and residents to the area.
First-time homebuyers are increasingly drawn to Panama City, Florida, due to its unique combination of natural beauty, affordable housing options, and vibrant community. Check out our ultimate guide to buying a home in Panama City.
When you choose a city to buy a home in, it’s important to consider factors such as job opportunities, quality of life, and affordability. Each city has its strengths and appeal, so it’s important to research and visit different cities to find the right fit for you.
Where to Buy a Home on a Budget in Florida
If you’re looking to buy your first home in Florida there are a number of affordable neighborhoods to consider such as Palm Coast-Flagler County, Ocala, and Jacksonville. These areas offer a combination of affordability, amenities, and a desirable quality of life.
Palm Coast-Flagler County
With a variety of neighborhoods, residents can enjoy outdoor activities, including golfing, boating, and exploring nature trails. The area also boasts a strong sense of community and access to amenities such as shopping centers, dining options, and parks.
The city is surrounded by picturesque horse farms and rolling hills, offering a tranquil setting. Ocala’s affordable housing options range from single-family homes to equestrian properties, therefore providing a variety of choices for homebuyers. The area also offers a thriving downtown scene with art galleries, local shops, and dining establishments.
As one of Florida’s largest cities, Jacksonville combines affordability with urban amenities. The city offers a diverse range of neighborhoods, from historic districts to modern suburban communities. With a vibrant arts and culture scene, numerous parks, and miles of beautiful beaches, Jacksonville provides a high quality of life at an affordable cost. The city also offers job opportunities, excellent schools, and a wide array of recreational activities for residents to enjoy.
Why People Are Moving To Florida
In recent years Florida has become a popular place to move to for a number of reasons.
Florida offers a warm climate year-round
One of the primary benefits of moving to Florida is its favorable climate. Known as the Sunshine State, Florida offers a warm and sunny environment for most of the year. The mild winters and long, hot summers make it an ideal destination for those seeking to escape colder climates. The sunshine also promotes an active outdoor lifestyle, allowing residents to enjoy activities like beach outings, water sports, and year-round golfing.
Tax benefits of moving to Florida
Another advantage of living in Florida is its favorable tax environment. The state imposes no personal income tax, which means residents can keep more of their earnings. Additionally, Florida does not tax retirement income, making it an attractive destination for retirees seeking to stretch their savings. The absence of estate tax is another benefit for individuals looking to protect and pass on their wealth. These tax advantages make Florida a great choice for individuals and families looking to maximize their financial resources.
Florida is a Veteran friendly state
Florida is widely recognized as a Veteran-friendly state for several reasons. Its numerous military installations provide job opportunities and a sense of community for Veterans and their families. The state offers tax benefits such as exempting military retirement pay from income tax and giving property tax exemptions for disabled Veterans. Overall, these factors help in making Florida an appealing and supportive destination for those who have served in the armed forces.
In conclusion, armed with these insider tips, you’re well-equipped to navigate the process of buying your first home in Florida. It is important to know that your success and experience as a home buyer will largely be tied to the quality of your homebuying team. Complete your Buyer Powerful Approval™ to start the homebuying process for Florida and you’ll be on your way to securing your dream home in the Sunshine State.