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Living In Tallahassee

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    By February 22, 2022May 9th, 2022No Comments

    Tallahassee real estate market has been a HOT sellers’ market for years and Tallahassee buyers are feeling beat up and beat out.  We have met with a handful of fatigued and exhausted buyers recently and feel their heartache. We also win most of the offers we submit – even when we are competing against multiple buyers and their agents!

    Storytime: AJ was a first-time homebuyer.  She and her son had been looking for a home with at least three bedrooms and two baths and under $150,000 for over a year. By the time they met with us, AJ had submitted and lost 8 offers!  She was feeling defeated and ready to give up on her dream of homeownership. With our help, she found and purchased her home in time for the holidays!

    Killearn acres has smaller homes and bigger lots. Homes are smaller and lots are larger than newer neighborhoods in Tallahassee.

    Many of the things Tallahassee buyers can do to strengthen their offer happen before they even start looking at homes.  Let’s talk about the eight things you can do to make an offer that will win you the home of your dreams.

    1.     Meet with a real estate professional before making an offer.

    You can call the agent that has listed the house you love, but you deserve your own agent.  The listing agent has a relationship with the seller and may even be fiduciarily responsible to get them the most money possible. It is also common now to have multiple buyers approach the listing agent directly. That’s a mess and sellers do not always like having their agent represent both sides. To be fair, some sellers have negotiated a lower commission if their agent does handle both sides. Local buyers should meet with a Tallahassee Realtor before crunch time and develop a game plan based on their strengths and unique circumstances. Check out our Buyer’s page for more tips.

    Storytime: AJ had a friend from work, who was a part-time Realtor, helping her find a home.  Her friend had a big heart, but not a lot of experience.  In AJ’s price point, there is a LOT of competition. Helping a buyer with this budget is a giant investment of time, energy, and experience. It is your investment to trust someone who has not been to the closing table more than you have. We believe you deserve a professional with lots of Tallahassee real estate experience in your corner.

    2.     Understand your agent’s role.

    Per Florida law, Tallahassee 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 the Tallahassee real estate market have been trained (often by my broker!) to have buyers sign a buyer’s representation agreement.  If your agent does not have you sign one, this may be a warning sign. These representation agreements lay out the agents’ duties and responsibilities to you, the Tallahassee buyer.  If you want the agent to keep something confidential – here is where you put it. If you want to see what is on there before you sign (AND we highly recommend that) email us and we will send you a copy. This form is used throughout the state (unless the brokerage is a big one and has its own attorney form) and provides protection to the Tallahassee buyer and real estate agent.

    3.     Know your budget.

    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? What would you be willing to give up going up in price point?  Can you play down debt to qualify for a higher home price? Is there anything that would make you change that number you are comfortable spending on Tallahassee real estate? Are there things that would have to happen before that higher number feels more comfortable?

    In general, spending a third of your income on housing is common. To prepare to make an offer, Tallahassee buyers should understand the highest amount they are comfortable offering and what that looks like in closing costs and monthly payments.  Your monthly payment will also depend on the Homeowners Associations’ dues and hazard insurance premium. Your lender can help you find a mortgage that will fit your budget in most circumstances. There are mortgages available with zero down payment and that might be tempting if you have dependable transportation and are willing to live outside of the city limits. The Tallahassee real estate that qualifies for those homes requires a drive out past Capital Circle. There are many loan options available to you.  Check out the Department of Housing and Urban Development information here.

    4.     Be pre-approved with a LOCAL lender BEFORE looking at homes.

    Local agents know the local lenders. 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. This is important for Tallahassee buyers to compete against other offers. With this pre-approval letter will come a disclosure of your estimated monthly mortgage payment (including estimated taxes, homeowner’s insurance, and interest).

    We want to stress using an experienced LOCAL lender.  Tallahassee real estate has areas with quirks that can sneak up on the inexperienced lender or a lender ‘not from around here.’ Local lenders also know the going rate for homeowners’ insurance and taxes and their monthly estimates are more accurate than out of town lenders. Check with your lender and your agent to have a plan before you enter the multiple offer competition.  We work with a lender that will provide the seller with a $2500 guarantee that the loan will close on time (for qualified buyers).

    When we put AJ into contact with one of our recommended lenders, she hit it off with her and they became fast friends.  The lender was so excited to help AJ, that she wrote a personal letter to the seller letting them know how awesome AJ was and how strong her application was, and that the lender had no worries about getting to the closing table.  It helped us win the bid even though she was not the highest bidder.  It helped that the listing agent was also a fan of this lender too.  This is another good reason to use a Tallahassee local lender – reputation matters!

    5.     Start looking for a home at a lower price point.

    One thing you may consider doing is to drop your price point a bit so that you are in a better position to offer more than the listing price.  This also helps lower the amount of cash you need to close (a little anyway).  The less you need to ask for from the seller, the stronger your offer will look.

    For example, AJ was approved for a $150,000 mortgage, but those homes were not appealing to her.  So she was EXTREMELY resistant to our advice to start looking in the $140,000 range.  There were even fewer homes in that price point that met her criteria. However, after a few weeks, a remodeled home hit the market that was priced at $145,000.  We saw that home immediately and had written and made an offer within minutes of leaving the house.  She offered slightly more than the list price and did not feel one bit bad or reluctant.  She was watching Tallahassee real estate like a hawk, and she knew this house was different.  When she won the bid, she had an even lower monthly payment than she expected and was ecstatic to put those savings into her son’s college account.

    6.     Set your priorities in writing and be prepared to walk away.

    Maybe you have been dreaming about coffee on the deck while watching deer, or space for the extended family holiday meals, or maybe you just want the solitude of a man (woman) cave.  Before you look is the time to set down your top five must-haves in a home and the five want-to-haves.  Talk about which room you spend the most time in or would if you had your own place.  Need a big backyard or pool because you want to be ‘that’ neighborhood house for your teens?  Need space for a catio or backyard access for a fur baby?  We’ve seen all these things offered in Tallahassee real estate.

    Make a list and refer to it when the negotiations get frustrating.  Having your priorities in writing will lower your stress and help you sort out which home is going to best meet your needs.  It is easy for Tallahassee buyers to fall for a pretty face and make an offer on a home that looks gorgeous, but only has one of your priorities.  That leads to buyer’s remorse, and we do not want that.

    Storytime: Buyer NJ fell in love with a home near Betton Hills she believed was move-in ready and properly maintained.  It was somewhat freshly painted, open and airy with lots of windows and giant ancient oak trees in the yard. NJ made an offer and started dreaming of her vegetable garden and mornings watching the flowers bloom. Then the inspection report came back. The seller had bought the house two years earlier and done no updates, no repairs, no renovations, zero maintenance, and wanted more than $85,000 over what he had paid.  She might not have minded this if the seller had disclosed the true condition of the property.  There was too much neglect that needed to be addressed for NJ’s comfort and she terminated the offer.

    7.     Check the settings on your social media accounts.

    Often, buyers and sellers are curious about each other and will do a google search to see what is out there.  As a Tallahassee buyer, make sure there is nothing posted on social media that will compromise your negotiations.  It is easy to change the privacy settings and make your posts only available to friends.  Tallahassee is a small town, there is a good chance that you will have friends in common.

    Tallahassee buyers should be careful about what is there for the public to see.  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 the buyer’s costs. Ouch!

    8.     Do not be pressured, and don’t drag your feet either.

    It is easy for Tallahassee buyers to get caught up in the competition and be more concerned about winning the bid than whether the home meets their needs.  Do not 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.  Experience tells us that this situation leads to Tallahassee buyer’s remorse.

    However, in Tallahassee’s real estate market, if you sleep on it, there is a good chance you will not sleep in it. We would love to interview to be your agent. You can text or call 850-203-0209 or email

    If you are also selling your Tallahassee house, we have more information about that process here. If you are thinking about buying a home I wrote a book for you! Enter your name and email address below and receive your free copy!



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