3 Things to Do BEFORE You Start House-Hunting

3 Things to Do BEFORE You Start House Hunting

If you plan to buy a home in Tampa Bay, there are three things you should do before you even start looking. This guide explains.

3 Things to Do BEFORE You Start House-Hunting

Check out the three basic tasks you need to perform before you start house hunting:

  1. Save up money for a down payment
  2. Check your credit (and improve it)
  3. Get mortgage preapproval

Here’s a closer look at each.

#1. Save Money for a Down Payment

it’s never too early to start saving your money for a down payment on a home in Tampa Bay. The more you can save, the better. Though there’s no hard and fast rule that says you must have a 20 percent down payment, the closer you get to that figure, the better off you’ll be over the long term.

There are a few reasons for this. First, the higher your down payment is, the lower your monthly mortgage payments will be. That saves you money each month, and over the long term, it can result in thousands more in your pocket.

Second, with most mortgage loans, you have to pay for private mortgage insurance if you don’t have a 20 percent down payment. Private mortgage insurance protects your lender, not you, and it costs you money each month. There are a few exceptions, such as the VA loan (which prohibits lenders from making you buy private mortgage insurance), but generally speaking, your lender will require you to pay for this insurance until you’ve built 20 percent equity in the home.

Related: What to do if your appraisal comes back low

#2. Check Your Credit (and Improve It)

Sign up for a free credit monitoring service to keep tabs on your credit score. You need to know what your score is because your interest rates and the terms of your loan depend on it. Higher credit scores typically translate into lower interest rates because they show lenders that you responsibly repay your debts.

It takes time to improve a credit score, and you may want to talk to a financial advisor if you need to take steps to boost your own. However, most experts agree that paying down high interest debt and lowering your credit card usage are both great ways to improve your credit score. Avoid opening any new accounts or making any large purchases on credit before you begin house hunting.

If you have credit card and other debt that’s all over the place, one solution may be to take out a personal loan that has a lower interest rate than your lowest-interest line of credit has. Consolidating your debt this way enables you to make one monthly payment, which reduces the chance of you being late, and it can save you money overtime period however, you should talk to a financial advisor before you make a decision like this.

Related: Tampa’s “Big Three” attractions: Busch Gardens, The Florida Aquarium and Zoo Tampa

#3. Get Mortgage Preapproval

You shouldn’t start searching for homes until you have mortgage preapproval. That’s because when you make an offer on a home, you want to show the seller that there’s actually someone out there willing to let you borrow the money to buy it. Many sellers won’t even entertain an offer that doesn’t come with a preapproval letter.

Beautiful Townhome in Hunters Green $349,900 Pending

17543 Fairmeadow Drive Tampa, Florida

2 Beds 2 Baths 1,747 SqFt 0.090 Acres

This delightful 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath Townhome in the well-manicured community of Copperfield Townhomes boasts numerous updates and a spacious open feel with vaulted ceilings and additional natural lighting and views exclusive to the end units. The kitchen features all new appliances, solid oak cabinets, beautiful quartz countertops, an elevated countertop with additional storage on the back side, and a convenient pantry closet. Beyond the kitchen is the finished lanai, with AC and a large storage room, or step out to the screened-in porch where you can enjoy a relaxing cup of coffee and early morning breezes. The half bath, an interior laundry nook with New full-sized washer and dryer, and the spandrel under-stair storage closet complete the downstairs. Upstairs you’ll find a split bedroom layout with the master bedroom and second bedroom being separated by a bonus space which is perfect for a home office or game room. Both bathrooms upstairs feature new shaker-style vanities with beautiful quartz countertops. The second bathroom offers a walk-in shower with new contemporary tile, while the master provides a tub/shower combination. The spacious master bedroom suite boasts a walk-in closet as well as a wall closet, a linen closet, and two nice-sized windows. Other notable features include a newer water heater (2020), new A/C unit, updated electric, new water softener system,gorgeous wood-look laminate flooring throughout, stylish baseboards, chair rails, full-sized washer and dryer, ceiling fans, and ample closets & storage. The well-manicured Copperfield Townhome community is pet friendly (with restrictions) and offers a sparkling community pool, sidewalks, and maintenance-free Florida living. Take advantage of plenty of parking with one assigned space at your front door and guest parking nearby. Centrally located with easy access to the Veterans Expressway, shopping, restaurants, Tampa International Airport, and beaches, this charming home offers both comfort and convenience.  Don’t miss out. Schedule your private tour today! $299,900 Active

7524 Hollowell Drive Tampa, Florida

2 Beds 3 Baths 1,396 SqFt 0.020 Acres

Look no further! This stunning block home is the epitome of what you've been searching for. Meticulously maintained, it boasts 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, plus bonus add-on rooms. With granite countertops in the kitchen, ceramic tile throughout, and a 2023 roof and A/C, this home offers both style and substance. Freshly painted inside and out, it exudes charm with beautiful stone detailing on the exterior. Enjoy the convenience of no CDD or HOA fees, and relish its prime location just minutes from the highway for an easy commute, close to Tampa International Airport, fine dining, and fabulous parks. Don't miss out on the opportunity to make this income-producing property yours! $379,000 Active

2405 Durham Street Tampa, Florida

2 Beds 2 Baths 1,488 SqFt 0.110 Acres

Welcome home to this lovely open concept townhome in North Tampa. As you walk in, you'll be greeted by an updated open style kitchen, which is not typical for this community. Washer and dryer are located inside the townhome for convenience. Upstairs you'll find two spacious bedrooms each with their own bathroom. Flooring has been updated throughout the home. Lighting has been updated as well with LED lighting in some areas. Another rarity, is a wood burning fireplace which is located on the living room. This townhome offers a rare backyard space which is chic and spacious. It's a perfect place to hangout and grill. The backyard is also fully fenced in and has a storage closet. The community offers a pool and tennis courts as well as ample parking for both residents and guests. The HOA takes care of all exterior and community maintenance. This unit has a newer roof and siding! The location is ideal with easy access to I-275. $260,000 Active

13813 Stone Mill Way Tampa, Florida

2 Beds 3 Baths 1,261 SqFt 0.040 Acres

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