When I first got my Florida real estate license, I did not know how to prepare a buyer before touring Tallahassee homes for sale. When a friend asked, I took a friend to see a house that was on the market that she really liked. I was a rookie agent and unaware that showing a house to an unqualified buyer was a rookie mistake. In my defense, I thought I was helping a friend out. By the way, she loved that house! She was NOT; however, qualified to purchase it. That was more than a decade ago and she still mentions that house each time I see her.
One thing that did teach me, though, was that there are things buyers need to get in order before they start touring homes. There is nothing worse than living with regret that you could have prevented. With that in mind, let’s talk about some things that you should consider before scheduling home tours.
When working with buyers, we want to reduce the likelihood of buyer’s remorse the best we can. Here are some things the research and experience have taught us, in no particular order. When you are ready, we trust you will contact us!
1. Hire a Tallahassee Realtor to help you meet your goals.
If you call an agent and they do not ask to schedule a time to discuss your unique situation before showing you houses, they may be desperate for your business. Do you want someone desperate for the commission to be representing you? They may worry more about their money than yours. Quality agents will ask you many questions about yourself before seeing the first house. The best agents will ask you to sign a representation agreement. After all, this is (likely) the largest investment in your life to date. Doesn’t it make sense to have duties in writing?
2. Understand your Tallahassee real estate agent’s role.
Speaking of the duties of a Tallahassee Realtor, many people do not understand agency law. Frankly, neither did I before I studied for my license, but it can sure make a big difference. Per Florida law, real estate agents are considered transaction brokers. That means most customers are not fiduciarily represented by the agent and that agent cannot sign papers committing the buyer or seller to a contract.
Agents in Tallahassee have been trained to have the buyer sign a buyer’s representation agreement. This is not true in other parts of the state, by the way. If your agent does not have you sign a representation agreement, then at least have the conversation about representation. It is important to understand the agents duties and responsibilities to you.
Representation agreements explain an agents’ role and often ask for duties and responsibilities from the buyer as well. If you want the agent to keep something confidential – here is where you put it. If you want to see what it on there before you sign (AND we highly recommend that) email us and we will send you a copy. It is the same form used throughout the state (unless the brokerage is a big one and has their own attorney form).
3. Know your budget – and your limits.
Before speaking to a lender, have a family conversation about your financial comfort zone. What is the most you would feel comfortable paying a month on a mortgage? Is there anything that would make you change that number? Are there things that would have to happen before that higher number feels more comfortable? Your lender can help you find a mortgage that will fit in your budget in most circumstances.
In my experience as a buyer’s agent in Tallahassee Florida, most listing agents will preserve a buyer’s request for closing costs assistance from the seller, if possible. The strong seller’s market has made that a lot less common since 2020. Most buyers are not receiving help from the seller for closing costs.
4. Be pre-approved with a LOCAL lender.
The preapproval letter means that a lender has looked at your assets, your income and your debt and feels comfortable committing in writing that you would qualify for a home loan. With this preapproval letter will come a disclosure of your estimated monthly mortgage payment (including estimated taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and interest).
That monthly estimate is impacted by two main things – taxes and HOA fees. If you are looking for homes with a homeowner’s association, that yearly amount required for the Homeowners Association will be (divided by 12 and) added to your monthly mortgage payment.
The other thing that will increase that monthly amount is the homeowners insurance. If you choose a home in a flood zone (according to FEMA maps) then your monthly payment will increase depending on the risk. Often the flood insurance is less than $500 a year.
We want to stress using an experienced LOCAL lender. There are a few areas with quirks that can sneak up on the inexperienced lender or a lender ‘not from around here.’ There is also a level of comfort for sellers when they know the loan officer, or at least the lending institution as a local. I have been on both sides where having that local lender made a difference in who’s offer the seller choose.
5. Know your numbers for a potential offer.
Most buyers are looking a competitive market right now and may have to consider how they will make their offer stand out in the crowd. Check with your lender and your agent to have a plan before you enter the competition. One lender we work offers the seller (for qualified buyers) to buy the home even if the buyer ends up not qualifying for the loan.
When your agent tells you that there are multiple offers on the home, you may be tempted to increase your offer. Decide before the heat of negotiations how high you will go. You will be tempted to increase that number, and please do so carefully. Here’s a link to our more information on how to win the bid in a multiple offer situation.
7. Set your priorities in writing.
If you have been dreaming about coffee on the deck, space for the family meals, or maybe the solitude of a man cave. This is a great time to set down your five must-haves and five want-to-haves. It will help you sort out which home is going to meet your needs. It is easy to fall for a pretty face and make an offer on a home that looks gorgeous, but only had one of your priorities. Often that leads to buyer’s remorse, and we want to avoid that.
8. Check the settings on your social media accounts.
More often than not, buyers and sellers are curious about each other and may do a google search to see what is out there. Make sure there is nothing posted that will compromise your negotiations. We had a seller that was asked to help cover the buyer’s closing costs and pointed to the buyer’s recent vacation photos posted from Greece as the reason he did not feel the need to help with buyer’s costs.
9. Talk title and closing before the offer is in writing.
Many closings in Tallahassee are handled by title companies. Title insurance is the insurance policy banks require borrowers to purchase for them. Title insurance protects the policy holder from any claims against the property. Things like missed liens or bad legal descriptions. We recommend getting a title insurance policy to cover you, the owner of the home. If you only get the bank a policy, you are not covered at all, and the property is not covered at all after the mortgage is paid off. Even if you are paying cash, we recommend a policy to protect you.
This title agent is usually the one closing the property. That means transferring ownership from the seller to you, the buyer. Figure out who you would like to work with before you make an offer. Also, we take pictures of photo identification and match the names on the contract with the photo identification. At closing your signature will be notarized, we have found it is much easier if all the names match on the documents. (Hint – loan documents should also match your phot identification for the same reason.) If you or a co-borrower travels a lot or might not be available to sign documents at closing, let your agent know. There are forms that can be signed to make sure you can close on time.
10. Do not be pressured.
It is easy to get caught up in the competition and be more concerned about winning the bid than whether the home meets your needs. Do no feel pressured by your agent, the seller, or the sellers’ agent to make an offer that is outside of the comfort zone you set before you started looking at homes. On the other hand, if you sleep on it, in this market, there is a good chance you will not sleep in it.
Check out the next page on what to expect when touring homes. It’s short and quick. Also check out our page on what to LOOK for when touring homes.