Jacksonville Home Buying Guide

Your Jacksonville Home Buying Guide

Are you looking for a Jacksonville home buying guide to give you an idea of what to expect during the home buying process? Then keep reading! We run across buyers all the time who are unfamiliar with the buying process, so you are not alone! This includes customers who have purchased multiple times in the past. The entire process is constantly changing.

Step 1:

Get pre-approved. There is currently a shortage of homes for sale in the Jacksonville area. That means when you find the right property, you need to be ready to act fast! It is crucial to have a pre-approval in hand at the time your offer is submitted. The pre-approval process will take anywhere from a few hours to a few days and there’s no time to spare in these situations!

Additionally, without speaking with a lender and getting pre-approved we don’t know what your price range is. There are many different loan types, all with their own interest rates and terms which will affect your monthly payment amount. It all comes down to what you can afford monthly.

Step 2:

Meet with your Jacksonville real estate agent for a buyer’s consultation. We want to meet with you to hear all about your likes and dislikes. At this meeting, we will pull up Jacksonville area properties together and find out exactly what you’re looking for. We will not only talk about the Jacksonville or St. Johns area you prefer, we also want to hear about what you’re looking for in a home and what amenities you would like.

During this consultation, we will go over briefly what you can expect during the buying process. This includes the offer process and then the contract to close process.

Step 3:

Looking at homes. This is the fun part! Until it isn’t fun anymore… Hopefully you will find the Jacksonville home for sale of your dreams right away! But sometimes it takes awhile to find that perfect home. We have our home buyers email or text us any properties they are interested in for us to do a little research first. For instance, if you are adamant that you do not want any properties in a flood zone, we will check into that first before going to see the property, you fall in love with it, and then we find out it’s in a flood zone.

We will then schedule appointments and take you to view any Jacksonville area homes for sale you’re interested in.

Step 4:

The offer process. We will go over the contract with you and assist you in submitting an offer on the home of your choice. Some important parts of the contract will include your offer amount and your escrow deposit. It’s at this point you will be expected to write an check for the amount you are willing to put in escrow.

What is an escrow check?

An escrow account at a title company will hold on to this money until closing. The check is cashed right away so be prepared for that. The purpose of this “good faith money” is for one, to show you are serious about the purchase. As long as you abide by the contract, this money is issued back to you as a credit at closing. If you back out of the purchase within your inspection period you will receive your escrow deposit back.

There are also many other circumstances that would allow you to receive the deposit back: if your financing can’t be approved and you’ve done all you can do. Or if there is a title issue that can’t be cured, etc. If you back out of the contract for no reason and you aren’t within any contingency periods, you could lose your deposit. We will be keeping track of all of this, so don’t worry! In 80+ transactions over the last few years, we have never had a customer lose their escrow deposit.

During this offer process, you may encounter counter offers and multiple offer situations. We will walk you through all of this, but keep in mind you will need to stay available. We do not encourage verbal offers or verbal acceptances and prefer to do everything in writing. This is for your benefit! For example, sellers may accept something from you verbally and in the meantime get another offer in writing. If they sign off on the one in writing, yours is no good.

Step 5:

Contract to Close… Congrats, your offer was accepted. Now starts the contract to close process. After acceptance, we will set up any inspections you are wanting on the home. We always encourage inspections even though they are not required. A traditional home inspection is a given, but it’s also a good idea to get a WDO inspection which stands for wood destroying organisms. This covers termites, pests and water damage. Depending on your loan type, a WDO may be required.

Keep in mind, home inspections are paid at the time they are done. A home inspection will cost anywhere from $300 on up depending on the size of the home and if additional outbuildings are being inspected. WDO are typically under $200.

It’s important to have these inspections done as early as possible in your inspection period. The home inspector may say the roof is questionable for instance. Home inspectors are not necessarily roof experts, so in a case like this we would want to have enough time in the inspection period to have a roof inspection done.

It is during this time that you are also getting all documents requested by the lender to them as soon as possible. Once they have everything they need from you, they will order the appraisal which is normally another out of pocket cost that is a few hundred dollars.

Once you have decided to continue forward past the inspection period we will focus on the financing portion and we will order a survey.

Step 6:

Prepare for closing day! Make sure you have utilities scheduled to be turned on in your name. Confirm with the closing agent what all you need to bring to the closing. If you owe money at closing, check with the closing agent on how to get the money to them and the exact amount. This is done by wiring the money from your account or sometimes a cashier’s check made out to the title company.

Warning: do not schedule costly services based on an exact closing day too far in advance. Unfortunately, it’s fairly common for a closing do be delayed a day or a week. Also, if your lender takes longer than normal to fund the loan, you may not walk away with keys that day. These are just a few different factors to keep in mind as closing day approaches.

We will do a final walk through of the home before closing, then head to the closing table to sign all the docs. Congrats, you’re a homeowner!

For any questions about this Jacksonville home buying guide, feel free to call, text or email us. We want to hear from you! We prefer that our customers are familiar with the buying process up front so there are very few surprises later.