The South Tampa real estate market really is unique. Consider these interesting facts . . .
- The market in South Tampa favors buyers more than most others.
- The best time to buy a home is different and probably not what you’d expect.
- Housing demand is higher owing to Tampa’s economic growth.
- The buyer demographic in South Tampa presents special conditions.
As you can see, this market is more than a little different from most others in several ways. So, while the basics of home buying remain the same across all markets, buyers will need to make some adjustments in this market.
Let’s get to it, then. Read on for some essential South Tampa home buying tips.
General Home Buying Tips
These general home-buying tips are valuable regardless of the area or the market . . .
Preparatory and Finances-related Steps
- Begin saving now. The cost of buying a home involves much more than your monthly mortgage payments. There are, in fact, several upfront, one-off costs that can add up to a substantial amount: down payment (which can be as much as 20% of the purchase price), closing costs, inspection and appraisal fees, moving costs, and (often) more. So you need to begin saving now to be able to cover these costs.
- Figure out what you can actually afford. Look closely at your income, monthly expenses, debt, and size of the down payment you intend to make in order to figure out exactly what you can afford. Doing so will save much effort and time because you’ll be able to narrow your search to homes you can actually afford.
- Check improve your credit score. Your credit score will play a huge role in whether you can qualify for a mortgage and what rate you can get. So if your score is below the minimum (typically, 620 to 640 for conventional loans), you need to get busy paying bills on time and paying down debt. Also, be sure to check your credit report for errors. Getting these rectified can improve your score in short order.
- Select the right mortgage for you. Think long and hard about what kind of mortgage will be best for your financial situation and needs. Options include conventional mortgages, FHA loans, VA loans, and USDA loans, as well as a 30-year or 15-year mortgage.
- Be sure to shop lenders. Do some comparison shopping to find a lender that best meets your needs. Make a point to request “loan estimates for the same type of mortgage from multiple lenders to compare the costs, including interest rates and possible origination fees.”
The Buying Process
Following are our tips for the actual home-buying process, which are solid tips for buying a home in South Tampa or anywhere else . . .
- Select the right home and the right neighborhood. Yes, you want to find the right home – one that has your must-haves and many of your like-to-haves. But keep in mind that you’re also buying into a neighborhood. “Check out potential neighborhoods thoroughly. Choose one with amenities that are important to you, and test out the commute to work during rush hour.” And make sure the personality of the neighborhood and the residents are a good fit for your lifestyle.
- Don’t neglect the inspection. A thorough assessment of the property’s structure and mechanical systems, the home inspection will allow you to make an informed purchasing decision and can give you negotiating leverage.
- Negotiate aggressively. Don’t hold back here, for negotiations are an accepted part of the buying/selling process. But you do have to know what you’re doing. That’s why most buyers are better off working with a talented local real estate agent.
Benefits of Buying a Home in South Tampa
Tampa is often rated as one of the most affordable cities in Florida and one of the best places for home buyers. It usually comes in second behind Orlando with respect to affordability of homes.
South Tampa homes, however, are a little pricier. Still, there are three factors that offset the higher home prices, and buyers hardly feel it at all, if any.
First Florida has no state income tax. “As if the dazzling waterfront views weren’t enough reason to purchase a home in [South] Tampa, the tax benefits are enough to sen anyone looking for a home in the area.”
Education and Dining
The area has “top-notch school districts,” as well as excellent colleges, South Tampa University, for example. In addition, South Tampa “is home to some of the most diverse, award-winning restaurants in the state.”
Many builders in the area are building homes with energy-saving features and energy-efficient appliances. Not only is this good for the environment, but it can significantly lower your monthly energy/utility bills.
So what’s the South Tampa home buying tip here. Just this: don’t be put off by the slightly higher home prices in South Tampa. They are more than compensated for by other benefits.
Timing the Purchase of Your Home in South Tampa
And here’s our final South Tampa home buying tip: make sure you time it right. If you want to get the best deal possible (depending on your needs), you need to know the best time to buy. And this timing has a lot to do with seasonal population fluctuations.
“Because of the great weather and seasonal fluctuations in population during the winter months due to snowbirds escaping the cold northern states, the house shopping season in Tampa doesn’t follow the typical national trends.
“Instead of the traditional spring excitement in the housing market, Tampa sees a lot of action during the winter months — January, February, and March.
“Tampa sees the newest listings and inventory in the first three months of the year. This means you’ll have an abundance of new homes to look at and sellers may be more open to negotiating price due to more competition between the profusion of sellers.”
February is typically the month with the highest inventory while also experiencing more home-price reductions than occur in January and March. But keep in mind that August and September are also good months with respect to plenty of inventory, but home prices may be a little higher, often selling for above asking price.
The upshot here is that you’ll be better able to time your purchase to take advantage of optimal seasonal market conditions with the assistance of an experienced South Tampa agent.