What are important questions to ask when buying your first home/condo?

Asked by Trulia Fort Lauderdale, Fort Lauderdale, FL Fri Oct 26, 2012

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Iliana Ivano…, Agent, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Mon Oct 29, 2012
First and foremost - get pre - approved (not just re-qualified) for a mortgage. Yes, there is a great difference between this two :) To obtain a pre-approval you need to submit all your income and assets information and a mortgage professional will determine how much you can afford. Pre-qualifications are often based only on credit and verbal income confirmation.

I agree with the other agents that the taxes and HOA fees are very important factor , however I would go a step further to verify if there are any proposed ( but not approved yet) special assessments if you are buying in condo development.

Quite often new condo owners get unpleasantly surprised when few months after the purchase they become a subject to (in some cases) thousands of dollars "repairs" or "improvement" assessment.

That ultimately can shadow the enjoyment of your new home.
1 vote
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Sat Oct 27, 2012
Buying a single family home is very different from buying a condo.
They are SO different they require entirely different buyer guides.
A first time buyer really needs to analyze their needs and circumstances and determine which ownership type is most beneficial to them.

You may find it beneficial to obtain a copy of my "Florida Buyers Guide for Condos" that reviews all aspects including how to analyze the 'financials' which is an INCREDIBLY important element of buying a condo.

My point is, they are ALL important questions and failing to seek out the correct answer for the ALL could be an assurance of future regret.

You should contact a REAL ESTATE PROFESSIONAL (not mortgage broker) in the area you are going to buy (Chad and John have already volunteered) and request the "Florida Buyers Guide for Condos." Of course they will have a companion document for single family homes. Any attempt to 'protect' your interests using a real estate aggregate website Q & A is only asking for trouble.

Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group, Palm Harbor, FL

First Look: http://youtu.be/PumYpkgybXE
1 vote
Chad Gray, Agent, Fort Lauderdale, FL
Sat Oct 27, 2012
Fort Lauderdale,

You have received some great responses! Here are my two cents about important questions to ask when buying a home/condo:

1. Have I been pre-approved for a loan, then determined how much I can afford?

2. Did I ask the loan officer during the pre-approval process about the new mortgage rules regarding documentation and can I provide all the items required?

3. Have I found a qualified Realtor who is knowledgeable about the area I'm interested in, who will be professional and have my best interests in mind, who knows how to navigate the entire real estate process (from finding a home, to securing a contract, to closing) and who will work to help me find a home that best fits my criteria?

4. Did I get the home inspected?

5. Did I ask about fees beyond the mortgage like HOA, taxes and insurance?

6. Did I secure a title company or an attorney for the closing, and did my Realtor explain the difference between the two?

I hope these are helpful!

Chad Gray PA, Realtor
Luxury Living Fort Lauderdale
Coldwell Banker Residential Real Estate

100% of clients rated our service as "EXCELLENT"!
1 vote
Stephen McRo…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Tampa, FL
Fri Oct 26, 2012
Mortgage Broker responds:

If you are planning to obtain a Mortagge Loan, and want the best rate and terms, you had better take my advice!!!!

These FL condos, though at relatively good deals, are still considered "Toxic" properties by Banks! What any experienced listing agent will do is have a CONDO CERT done on the property when they take the listing.

However, many won't want to spend the $100 to $150 or are scared to ask the sellers to pay for it, but then wonder why so many potential buyer's loans take a nose dive before closing.

I'm looking at 2nd home beach condo this weekend and as a Mortgage Broker, I know better and once I identify a property, the very first thing I will do is get the CONDO CERT done. This is generally a 25 question form that the Property Mgmt. Co. completes which is like an X-Ray of what all is going on in the property, HOA, etc.

Contact me and I'll send you a copy of a Condo Cert to use.


see 95% LTV condo program at http://www.pro-option.com
1 vote
Stephen McRo…, Mortgage Broker Or Lender, Tampa, FL
Mon Oct 29, 2012
Ft. Lauderdale ,

Can you say...WOW? Here's a piece from the Florida Realtors News article that FL realtors recieve:


ORLANDO, Fla. – Oct. 26, 2012 – The University of Central Florida (UCF) conducted a study, asking 257 Realtors about clients’ attitudes concerning real estate commissions. Overall, the surveyed Realtors said 73 percent of their clients raised a question about the commission after a closing, and 64 percent actually complained about the commission.


A separate one-question survey distributed to non-Realtors in the general population asked if they thought Realtors deserved their commission. Only 26 percent thought agents did; the remaining 74 percent said commission levels aren’t justified by the amount of work a Realtor performs.

According to UCF, the survey respondents were 59 percent male and 41 percent female. The ages ranged from 20 to 71 years old, with an average age of 37.

-------WOW, right?

This is why I assist my borrowers is obtaining REALTOR REBATES, a substantial, anf Effortless saving of their otherwise Forfeited Home Equity in excessive realtor points.

Just like shopping for a mortgage loan, Home buyers and Sellers should shop realtors extensively for their best deal and lowest realtor commission points!

And EXACTLY how realtors do when referring borrowers to Lenders who they feel will offer the borrower lower rates, lower points and Better Service, I simply do the same.

Here is an example of what smart buyers are able to obtain: http://www.trulia.com/blog/steve_31/2012/09/gfb_250_000_purchase

0 votes
Annette Law…, Agent, Palm Harbor, FL
Mon Oct 29, 2012
Steve is any of your compensation, which is equivalent or greater that that of the real estate agent,part of this 'rebate' program? Why not?

One would be well advised to avoid any situation where the promoter has NO SKIN IN THE GAME. When one treats the resources of others like Monopoly money, you can be sure that all money, except his own, is to receive equal treatment. Such arrangements led to calamity in the recent past. We all remember the zero down mortgages offered by.....hmmmm.....mortgage brokers!

So Steve, how much of your generous commission (let's include it all) is funding this rebate program?
0 votes
Don Tepper, Agent, Burke, VA
Fri Oct 26, 2012
John makes an important and valuable point about being able to afford the home.

But I'd say the most important question is: "Is it going to work for me?" That is, are you buying it because you like the location, the layout, the neighborhood, etc? Those are all good things.

Or are you buying it because it's the only thing you can afford, or you're hoping/expecting the value to rise so you'll make a profit, or because you figure that because it backs up to a highway or is right underneath some power lines, you're getting a terrific deal? Those are all bad things.

And if it's your first home or condo, ask yourself: Am I likely to be happy here in 4 years? Or, for instance, do you plan on getting married and starting a family . . . in your 2 bed/1 bath condo?

Just because you can afford the place doesn't mean it's the right place for you.

Hope that helps.
0 votes
John Bourassa, , Fort Lauderdale, FL
Fri Oct 26, 2012
The most important question to ask is to yourself: WHAT CAN I AFFORD? The process of buying a home is a seduction. A house is like a seductress calling to your heart and when your heart gives in, you want it but often times, people fall in the temptations of buying what they like instead of buying what they can afford. And this does not only happen to only first time homebuyers, it still happens to seasoned buyers.

Just like buying a car, or a kitchen appliance, or a computer, we start with a reasonable, frugal, price in our minds. We go out shopping looking at everything in those lower prices but somehow we are attracted to the next upgrade just because those items have one nifty thing that the cheaper model doesn't have...and we end up buying up...and a home is no exception (except for professional investors who are strictly business minded, void of all emotions, just numbers that make sense to them).

Unless you are paying cash, your first step towards buying a home is to seek a professional mortgage broker or a mortgage banker. Those people will evaluate your finances (yours and your significant other) and they will tell you what you can afford and will prequalify you accordingly.
0 votes
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