Ocala, Florida, is located in the heart of Marion County in Central Florida and is known for its unique combination of rural and metropolitan living. Ocala is considered by many to be an ideal spot for those looking to buy a home. With its variety of neighborhoods and proximity to larger cities like Orlando and Gainesville, Ocala is a thriving community.
The homebuying process can be time-consuming, but with the proper knowledge and guidance, it can be a rewarding experience that ends with your dream home. From researching different neighborhoods to understanding local laws, having the knowledge to make a well-informed decision is vital. Take a look at the following homebuying guide to make your home search seamless.
Work with a lender to get pre-approval
Before starting your home search, working with a lender to get pre-approved is essential. Being pre-approved means a lender has reviewed your financial information and history and provides the maximum amount you can spend on a home based on that information. It also provides a competitive edge in a tight market so sellers know you are serious about buying a home and have the financial backing to ensure a smooth transaction. Pre-approval also gives you the advantage of knowing how much you can negotiate since you already understand the numbers behind your loan. Knowing your borrowing limit allows you to make well-informed decisions throughout the homebuying process.
Check your credit score
In addition to pre-approval, checking your credit score is important as it can play a significant role in the amount of money you are eligible to borrow and can also impact the interest rate on your loan. A credit score evaluates your financial history and reflects your trustworthiness as a borrower. A good credit score is typically anything above 670, but this number can vary depending on the specific lender and type of loan you are considering. Credit scores can be improved by paying off any existing debt, paying bills on time, and limiting credit inquiries.
Checking your credit score and ensuring it is accurate lets you know exactly where you stand financially and allows you to take any steps necessary to improve or maintain your credit score. If you encounter any issues with your credit score, having a lender you trust is invaluable when navigating the homebuying process.
Set your criteria
Finding the perfect single-family home for sale in Ocala involves a lot of factors and criteria, such as location, size, amenities, and price. Before you start house hunting, it is crucial to make a list of your must-haves and preferences so you are not blindly viewing homes without any base of reference for your needs. This will help you narrow your search and focus on the homes that fit your criteria.
While it helps to have a list of considerations, it is also important to remain flexible and open-minded. Once you start looking at homes, you may find that some of your needs are wants and thus re-evaluate your goals. There are many beautiful homes in Ocala, and your idea of the perfect home may evolve throughout your journey. Stay positive and open-minded, and don’t settle for a home that does not suit your lifestyle.
Search online listings and schedule showings
Once you better understand the Ocala real estate market and know your financial capabilities, start actively searching online listing services. New listings are posted daily, and checking for new options in your target location can help you stay ahead of other buyers. Many reliable websites allow you to search for homes in specific areas and narrow your search by price range, bedrooms, bathrooms, and other desirable features. With detailed photos and virtual tours, you can get a sense of the layout and amenities of a property without ever leaving your home.
Keep in mind that not all homes photograph well, and homes that meet your must-have criteria should always be prioritized for showings, despite the lack of professional photography. Showings and open houses are a vital part of the homebuying process, as they allow prospective buyers to see the property in person. During showings and open houses, it is important to take note of the home’s condition, amenities, and any significant defects that could impact the property’s value. It is also the perfect opportunity to get a better feel for the community, neighborhood amenities, and other homes in the area, which play a major role in choosing a home.
Consider contingencies and inspections
Before making an offer on a home, it is crucial to consider any contingencies you may want to include or waive. Contingencies are terms that must be met for the sale of the house to move forward. Some common contingencies are home inspections, appraisals, and financing. Having a contingency in place is important, as it gives buyers and sellers the ability to back out of the transaction if certain conditions are not met.
For example, most buyers will include a home inspection contingency, which allows them to back out of the sale or renegotiate if the inspection reveals any serious issues. Home inspection contingencies can provide peace of mind for buyers that they do not have to buy a home with significant problems. However, waiving contingencies can be advantageous in a competitive market. If you are in a situation where multiple buyers make offers, waiving the inspection contingency can give you an edge over the other offers. While there are risks to removing certain contingencies, it can also be a strategic move to secure a home.
Work with an expert local realtor
Working with a local realtor can be a valuable resource during homebuying. An experienced realtor can provide insight into the Ocala market, help identify potential listings, advise on making an offer, and handle the negotiation process. Having a realtor on your side can provide additional support and help you avoid common mistakes and delays.
Romel Camacho, part of the TCT Realty Group, is an Ocala real estate agent with an entrepreneurial spirit who loves connecting with locals and supporting buyers and sellers. Start searching for your dream home with Romel on your team.
*Header photo courtesy of Romel Camacho