As the cost of rent continues to rise in the Tampa Bay area and throughout all of Florida, buying a home becomes more than just a dream for many but the ideal way of gaining affordable housing. As you plan to become buyer-ready, here are 4 tips for buying a home in or around Tampa.

Improve Your Debt-To-Income (DTI) Ratio

While having a high score is nice, more importantly having a healthy DTI ratio is key when getting a mortgage. Having a DTI of 35% or lower will make you favorable to lenders. This ratio helps lenders see how much you can afford as a monthly payment—and can help you determine how much you can afford as well. You can calculate your debt-to-income ration by adding your minimum monthly payments for all debts (personal loans, credit cards, car loans, etc.) and divide it by your monthly pre-tax income.

Pro Tip – The 28/36 Rule: When determining how much home you can afford, keep in mind that experts say your monthly mortgage payment should be less than 28% of your pre-tax monthly income and less than 36% of your total debt.

Shop Around For Mortgage Lenders

You’ll want to make sure you are getting the best rates and terms from your mortgage lender. Check what fees they charge and see if their fees are overinflated to make up for low advertised rates compared to their competitors.

You should also find a mortgage company who sees you as a person, not just another application. One that will help you to become qualified and give you sound advice. One big red flag is a mortgage company that encourages you to max out your pre-approved finance amount. Just because you are qualified for a $450,000 mortgage, doesn’t mean it is financially wise to purchase a $450,000 home. Verify what your payments will be over the term of your mortgage and that you can easily afford them.

As you shop around, keep in mind some mortgage lenders may specialize in certain types of loans. If you are not sure what type of home loan you want or qualify for, look for a lender who has several mortgage loan originators who have different specialties. This way, you can get more information about several loan options and see which one will serve you best.

Save For More Than Just A Down Payment

Many home mortgage loans require a  down payment, although not all do. It is better to prepare for the possibility you may be required to put a down payment to qualify for a loan. As you prepare to become a desirable borrower, start setting aside as much as you can to go towards a down payment—and other expenses associated with getting a mortgage and becoming a homeowner. You’ll need to consider closing costs that are paid out of pocket, the cost of an appraisal and a home inspection, moving expenses, and home maintenance costs you may have to take on after buying the home.

Choose A Real Estate Agent Familiar With Your Desired Neighborhood

As a buyer, you are not responsible for the real estate agent’s fee. They are paid a commission of the sale price, a fee the seller is responsible for. So, don’t attempt house shopping by yourself if your concern is the cost of using a real estate agent. Real estate agents are professionals in their field and can help answer questions about the home buying process, finding a lender, and recommendations for other professionals, like a home inspector. Choosing to work with a real estate agent who is familiar with your future neighborhood can also be beneficial for overcoming other hurdles such as verifying the asking price is fair for the area’s amenities and ensuring the neighborhood suits your current (and future) lifestyle.

A pest inspection is not part of a typical home inspection. Granted, a home inspector will note in their report if they discover any indication of pests during a home inspection; however, not all pests may leave obvious signs of their presence. Home insurance typically excludes pest-related issues, and the cost of pest control can be significantly more than the cost of a pest inspection.

When Do I Need A Pest Inspection?

Pest inspections are recommended for

What Happens During A Pest Inspection?

An AcuSystem certified pest inspector will review the interior and exterior of the property for signs of pest. This includes looking for:

Some of the most common pests in Florida are termites, cockroaches, and rodents, but other pests can also plague homes such as wasps, bees, spiders, and carpenter ants.

Following the pest inspection, your AcuSystem Inspector will provide you with a detailed report that includes their findings—problem areas and recommended pest control treatment.

Do I Need A Pest Inspection Before Buying A Home?

You are not required to have a pest inspection done before buying a home in Florida, although some lenders may want one if the home has had a history of pest, especially termites.

It is important to have a home inspection completed of the property you are looking to buy. This will be the first step in identifying any potential concerns—signs of pest activity visible during the home inspection can help you determine if further investigation is necessary with a pest inspection.

Depending on the findings and our schedules, we may be able to perform a pest inspection immediately following your home inspection if there are signs of a potential pest infestation. We can discuss any concerns you have about pests or other findings on the home inspection report as soon as we are completed with our inspection.

POV: You are in love with this house and have put in an offer on it that has been accepted. You’ve just completed the home inspection and walked through each room with your Tampa AcuSystem home inspector as they pointed out things you didn’t notice before. Then, they provide you with their detailed home inspection report. There is more in it than you expected. Now you aren’t so sure about this house anymore.

Before you get totally bummed out by the house and back out of the contract. Go through your home inspection report line by line and notate which issue is a concern for you and what isn’t a big deal. Then go through it again and make sure none of the below issues are labeled as deal breakers for you now they’ve been explained a little bit. Also remember, any issue still indicated as a concern for you can be used as a negotiation tool. Discuss these concerns with your realtor to see what may be negotiated into the home sale (whether it’s a repair or cost reduction) and then determine if it is better to back out of the home purchase or stick with it.

Home Inspector Notes That Might Not Be Actually Dealbreakers

It is important to know a good Tampa home inspector will make notes about every defect, no matter how small or insignificant it may mean. AcuSystem Inspectors want to make sure you know everything about the home you are buying—from the big picture down to the smallest details. Not all defects are a critical issue, even if at first they may seem so.

Here are some red flags that may be raised, and which really aren’t as concerning as they may appear.

Cracks in the Wall

Perceived Concern: Foundation Issues

Likely Issue: Unless indicated otherwise by your home inspector, cracks in the wall are usually the result of settling and not a structural issue. Settling cracks that can be hidden with some spackling and paint.

Peeling Paint

Perceived Concern: Water Damage

Likely Issue: Peeling paint can indicate water damage but if there are not other signs of such, like mold, mildewy smells, or softened drywall, then peeling paint can be just a cosmetic issues caused by time and poor quality paint.

HVAC Needs Service

Perceived Concern: Major Repair or Replacement Needed (High-Cost Issue)

Likely Issue: Like a car, HVACs need routine service. However, they don’t always get it. If the age of the HVAC is not a concern, then general maintenance (like cleaning the coils or ducts) may be all that is needed. This can be easily negotiated to have the seller hire an HVAC technician to perform a service visit.

Insufficient Insulation

Perceived Concern: Major Repair Needed (High-Cost Issue)

Likely Issue: This isn’t an alarming concern but rather a long-term energy cost to consider. In Florida, adequate—or even more than adequate—insulation is a must to keep homes cool and prevent the HVAC system from overworking itself. Insulation can cost around $0.50 - $1.50 per square foot. This can be something negotiated with the sale of the home or handled after you become a homeowner.

GFCI Issues

Perceived Concern: Major Repair Needed (High-Cost Issue)

Likely Issue: Older homes may have a lack of CFCI outlets or outlets and switches that don’t work, but this is no reason to fret (although it can be an annoyance). Having a licensed electrician out for repairs can easily remedy this concern.

Uneven Flooring

Perceived Concern: Potential Foundation Issues

Likely Issue: When the floor becomes uneven, it can be a worrisome concern. It could be just a settling issues, but may require an additional inspection to ensure under the flooring are not signs of foundation concerns.

Soil Too High

Perceived Concern: Potential Foundation Issues

Likely Issue: Most of the time, when the soil (or mulch, plants, etc.) is too high or too close to the foundation it is because the landscaping was not done correctly. When planting new items, nutrient-rich soil or mulch is often brought in but the old mulch or existing soil was not dug out first. This just means some landscaping is in your future as a new homeowner.

When buying a new home, most homebuyers are aware they should have a Home Inspection done or are advised of having one done during the buying process. However, there are other types of inspections that are more in-depth for certain aspects of a home—like inspections to check for pests or mold—or are for specific purposes, such as getting home insurance, that are not included in a traditional home inspection.

How do you know if you should get another type of inspection in addition to your home inspection?

Simply enough, your home inspector will let you know if further investigation is needed to confirm the presence of pests or mold. If your insurance requires a special inspection report, they’ll let you know when you shop for a quote. So, you’ll never be truly alone or lost during the process! Especially not if AcuSystem Home Inspections is the team you rely on for your home inspection.

We believe in helping homeowners understand their biggest purchase and will take the time to review the inspection report and answer questions. We also encourage home buyers to attend the inspection and learn things about the home, such as where the breaker or main water valve is located or how an appliance may work.

Home inspections are very thorough—check hundreds of areas (over 400!). You can review the Florida Home Inspection Standards of Practice we follow to see the extent of how well we inspect homes.

What Is Not Covered In A Home Inspection?

While they are thorough, there are some things that cannot be verified during a home inspection. A home inspection may indicate signs of mold or signs pests are present, but a further inspection is necessary to determine the extent of the infestation and the damage present.

Should we have any concerns, not only will we include it in our detailed home inspection report, but we will also let you know if we recommend another inspection as your next course of action to remedy those concerns.

Tampa Home Inspection Services—And More—With AcuSystem Inspections

If you need a home inspection, if you have any concerns about pests or mold at your home, or your insurance company wants a specific inspection, then call us to schedule an inspection and we’ll get your needs taken care of!

What Does a Florida Home Inspection Entail?

A standard home inspection is a “visual examination of the readily accessible systems and components of a home”. The inspections are non-intrusive and rely mainly on the eye of the home inspector with what they see/ don’t see. A home inspector will never move around furniture or the personal belongings of a client. A home inspector will also never take pieces of the home apart like the floor, walls etc. The purpose of a home inspection is not to take apart the home and put it back together—it is to make sure the home is functional, safe and up to code from a superficial standpoint.

A home inspector will also test certain mechanical features of the home like their HVAC system, electricity, and water lines.

When Should I Have My Tampa Home Inspected?

It is most common for a client to request a home inspection after they’ve had their offer to purchase the home approved by the previous homeowner. With the exception of certain property contracts and documents, usually there is a two-week grace period that allows time for the home inspection to take place. This period is the time between the offer being accepted and the beginning of the closing process on the home.

What Happens if the Home Inspector Finds Issues with the House?

It is common for a home inspector to find at least one thing wrong with a client’s home, whether the issue is big or small the client must realize that this is normal. The point of the home inspection is to search for possible flaws in the home so that they can be properly corrected before the homeowners move in.

A home inspector will often label an issue as a “maintenance issue” if the issue is not making the home unsafe for the clients to move in; typically, the problems found don’t always have to be fixed right away.

Your home inspector will never withhold information from you, it is their job to tell you all problems and possible fixes, whether they are small or large. The homeowner will always be educated on the problem so that they can understand what the next steps are for them and their home in correcting these problems.

In the event there are no problem areas found in a home, your home inspector can suggest a specialty inspection to go more in-depth on your home. Such additional home inspections may be insurance inspections, energy assessments, and blower door testing. Home inspectors do not check for these things because they go beyond the superficial characteristics of the client’s home.

How Qualified are AcuSystem Home Inspectors?

When choosing your home inspector, it is always a good idea to do your research on the company you are thinking of going through. Look through their website, ratings and even call to learn more about what they provide, the training and certifications. Check out our certifications, licenses, and training as well as the benefits we have to offer our clients here.

Should I Be There on Inspection Day?

Before a home inspection, if the client has any questions or concerns regarding their home it is suggested that they write them down to be shared with the home inspector. After arriving on inspection day, clients can address these concerns with the home inspector to make sure that their questions are answered at the best ability of the inspector.

The process of a home inspection allows for the buyer/ homeowner to understand the status of their home, so it is important that the clients attend the inspection. The home inspectors’ goal is to educate the client so that they can choose their action plan for their home.

A home inspector cannot give you their personal opinions on what they view the value of the home is or what they feel the homes worth is—that is up to the client to decide after the inspection. One on one attention is provided to the clients by their home inspector at the end to run through the results of the inspection and their report on the home.

Schedule Your Tampa, Florida Home Inspection Today

Looking for more information on home inspections or looking to set up an appointment to have your home inspected? AcuSystem Inspections can help you out! Our company specializes in home and business inspections. Call us at (813) 361-9302 to request your home inspection service.

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