MiamiMom, Home Buyer in Miami, FL

What is a realistic time frame to begin searching for a house?

Asked by MiamiMom, Miami, FL Sat Nov 5, 2011

We are Miami residents (currently renting) looking to purchase a home somewhere in Pembroke Pines or Miramar in 2012. Our lease expires at the end of March and we don't want to move before that, but we MUST be moved into a home no later than July 2012.

Given how long short sales take, I don't want to start too soon, but don't want to cut it too close either. Budget is 250K.


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Hi MiamiMom (soon to be PembrokePinesMom or MiramarMom!):

I love some of the advice that you've been getting. Short sales always have the potential to drag on forever, and no matter what anyone might attempt to assure you about their incredible short sale skills, there is nothing that anyone can do to guarantee that a short sale will be completed in any specific period of time. To the extent that you have a 100% need to be in your new home by July, I would completely advise you to pass up the lure of just about every short sale.

That being said, there is a very small class of short sales that MIGHT work for you - we call those approved short sales. Those are situations where the lender had considered an offer from a previous buyer and had agreed to accept the offer - but for whatever reason, the deal did not go through. In those cases the bank will often allow a new buyer to step in if they are willing to make that exact same offer. In that event the deal can happen relatively quickly and within a known period of time, so that might work. Even so, you still have to be very careful, because sometimes the short sale is only "approved" in the mind of the seller, and the bank would tell you something else altogether. You do need to be able to rely on the knowledge and experience of a competent and professional Realtor who can determine the true state of affairs, and not get you into a bad situation.

Conventional sales and truly approved short sales can close in a matter of 6-8 weeks or less. If you're going to allow yourself enough time to feel comfortable that you've really found a home that you love, you'll want to start looking several weeks to get to know the market and get a sense of where you'd like to be, where the good schools are located, and exactly what you're looking for in terms of space and yard and amenities. I would recommend that if you're hoping to by March, that you definitely begin the process no later than mid-December - but keep in mind that you're getting into the holidays, which has a way of interfering with the ability to see some properties. Honestly, the sooner you're ready to start, the more relaxed and stress-free the experience will be for you.

If I can help you in any way, please let me know. I have lived and worked in Pembroke Pines for over 14 years, and I know Pembroke Pines and Miramar exceptionally well.

With best regards,

Villa G Realty, Inc.
Tel: 954-816-7996
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
Hi Miami Mom!

Angela said it very well regarding the Short Sales. I would also add that not only don't you know how long it might take, you also don't know at what price the lender will approve the Short Sale. There are MANY unknowns when it comes to a Short Sale. Even on an Approved Short Sale, it should be taken on a case by case basis, as each lender is different, and even though they may have approved one buyer on a Short Sale, if that buyer walks away, they may still take an unknown amount of time with a new buyer.

Regarding your time is the time to familiarize yourself with different neighborhoods in your target area. Know what neighborhoods are in the price range that you are looking for. That way when you are ready you will have saved a lot of "just looking" time, and will be ready, should the right home come along.

For now, your pre-qual is fine. Pre-approvals expire, and you don't want your credit pulled too often, it can effect your credit score.

It is also a good idea to talk to different Realtors, and choose one that you feel comfortable with, and have confidence in. Your Realtor will help guide you through the home buying process, and make it as stress free as possible.

I would be happy to help you! Feel free to contact me, and we can discuss the homebuying process and I can answer any questions you may have.

Best of luck!

Stefanie Cohen, PA, ABR, SFR
Prudential Florida Realty
2 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
Now would be a good time to start looking, as sometimes short sales can take 6 months.

Marco Gomez
NY Associate Broker
Keller Williams Landmark II
Serving Queens, Nassau and Brooklyn
0 votes Thank Flag Link Fri Nov 18, 2011
You can start looking now for the area you want... start getting an idea of what is available in that price range. You can stipulate when you want to close. Should not be a problem.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Thu Nov 17, 2011
Short sales can be great but as you know they can take a long time. I would start my search sooner rather than later just to be on the safe side. If worst comes to worst, you would be better off finding the right home and possibly paying some extra fees than finding yourself against a wall and living in a house that is not ideal, personally or financially.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
Miami Mom, it will depend if you buy a short sale or regular sale, a regular sale could take about 45 days and a short sale about 3-5 months,it will depend if the short sale is approved or not, i will be happy to show you around some good properties in broward county
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
Start looking now and factor in the cost to break your lease early if you decide to make an offer on a short sale. Once the Short Sale is approved you must close within 45 days.

You also need to factor the cost of renting month-to-month until/if the short sale ever closes. A large percentage of short sales never close so you also need to continue shopping for a home up until the day you eventually get a short sale approval letter in your hands. Plan on as soon as 1 months to as long as 1 year.

Oh and on a short sale, don't expect the house to be in the same condition it was when you made your offer because the seller may decide to rent it out to destructive tenants with pets who may chew up the cabinets and doors and baseboard and also plan for smell removal. Some smells are very difficult to get out (cat smells).

Also if the house is abandoned without electricity for months on end, you could end up with toxic mold, too.

And... even if your contract says the appliances and light fixtures and window treatments are included with the sale, don't be surprised if they're all gone, too. You're lucky if a Short Seller submits updated financial statements (bank account, wage statements, tax returns, etc.). Also some Short Sellers will want to rent out the house for as long as possible to collect "free" rent money for as long as possible.

Oh and unless the asking price is "approved" it could be unrealistic and the lender will do their own appraisal and I've seen some come back "above" current market value. You may not get a bargain on a short sale, after you wait and wait and wait for the "servicer" to evaluate the Seller and the price.

So..."buyer beware" on short sales...

All the best,
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
Dear Miami Mom,

Short sales take between 3 to 6 months, and that is just an estimate. To stay on the realistic side, if you are interested in a short sale, start your seach now. If we can find you a regular sale or a foreclosure you can wait about 2 months to move-in from the date of your offer. There are not as many homes on the market as there were, so keep in mind the inventory is somewhat limited. You sound like you have some flexibility, but to have the home in your name at the exact moment you rent expires means you need to start looking now.
Susan Penn, PA, CDPE, SFR, EWM Realtor
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
There are no guarantees on the time frame of a short sale approval and closing .
An accepted offer on price from your seller/home owner is no guarantee that the sellers bank will ok the amount agreed upon between the buyer and seller.
You are working with several deadlines here and need to consider what will happen if your dead lines and short sale closing date does not match up.
I am a certified Short Sale and Foreclosure Realtor living and working in Pembroke Pines/West Miramar area.
There is a lot of competition out here for the properties by Investors and Owner to Occupy buyers .
That type of competition starts limiting supply and therefore affecting prices,in sellers favor .
That said, the decision to look begins with you and your factors involved.
Good luck and stay in touch. If you need me, I am an email or call away .
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
Good morning. I will suggest you to stay out of short sale transactions. I am ceritified distress property expert and it is extremely difficult to close a short sale on time becasue there are too many people involve in the negotiation and it ultimately comes up to the negotiator of the bank and the seller actually accepting the deal of his/her current lender. Every time I am going for a short sale I tell my clients "No deadlines". Obviously my team and I will do evertyhing to close the transaction as early as tomorrow but is not always the case. Even is the short sale is "approved" does not means that you will be able to close sooner.

If you want to move by March specially in Miramar and Pembroke Pines where there are so many investors and buyers I will suggest you to start looking now. Remember, it all depends on what type of house you want, how big, how many bedrooms and of course location, location, location.

I live in MIramar and I am very familiar with the cities you are interested on so I trust me when I tell you there is just not enough supply.

Miguel W. Maria
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sun Nov 6, 2011
If a Broker tells you they can conplete a short sale on time, you might suggest that broker agree to cover your expenses of living in a hotel should the correct date not be met.

Sorry, I am so against short sales for people who want to go live in a place.
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
You should start looking now.

Paul Saperstein
Re/Max Advantage Plus
Real Estate Broker-Associate
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Toll Free 1-888-363-5910
Fax 561-455-9884

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0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
Pre-qual is usually when the lender checks your credit report and goes by the information you provided in regards to income, debts, taxes... a pre-approval is stronger because it usually means that the lender has fully verified that you qualify for the amount stated on the pre-approval letter. A loan commitment usually comes once you have found a home you want to pursue.

I will be happy to assist with Broward County and neighborhoods when you are ready.
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
Thank you for the prompt answers..

Ducks are almost all lined up. Financing is in order, but all I have is a pre-qual or a pre-approval. (don't know the difference) I don't have a loan commitment yet because its probably premature at this point.

Thanks for the tip on the short sales, I thought it was a good idea, but knowing how nerve wracking it can be time-wise, I can understand why its more trouble than its worth.

I'm at the step where I need assistance finding neighborhoods that match our wants with our budget. And learning about broward in general.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
If you are financing a home, the loan process itself can take 30 to 60 days to close. If you add 2 weeks to the 60 days than you would be looking at 75 days from when you start searching to close. Short sales would take longer and there is no guarantee that the short sale will be accepted by the seller's lender after all is said and done.

I would be happy to assist once you are ready to start looking.

Jimmy A. Morales
Real Estate Consultant, REALTOR®
Certified Distressed Property Expert (CDPE)

Keller Williams Realty Partners SW
2000 NW 150th Ave, Ste 1100
Pembroke Pines, FL 33028
Direct: 954.418-2050
Office: 954.237-0449
Web Reference:
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
Well, it's not just a matter of timing, it's also a matter of getting educated about the market and having your ducks all lined up so you can follow through when you are ready. Since you are currently rented, I presume you need to line up a loan. I suggest that you get your own credit reports done online as you are entitled to one free one a year that does not affect your credit score pulling it, then start talking to several banks and mortgage brokers, because if your credit needs some help, this way you have time to work on it! I would also contact a few agents and get some actual selling prices of homes in the neighborhoods that you are most interested in, so that when you see a good deal you will know when to act and be prepared to close a deal that will work. Good luck! Terry Bell, Realtor, Santa Rosa, CA
0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011

Short sale could hold you up for months and months and then you start over again. Short Sales are not for people who expect to move into at a date certain.

Plenty on market without having to get into the minefields that short sales offer.

0 votes Thank Flag Link Sat Nov 5, 2011
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