Checklist: Before You Buy a Home in Northeast Florida


Buying a home is a major milestone in the lives of most people. It can also be a major stressor. There are somewhere between 60 and 190 steps in the home buying process after you’re under contract to buy a house. Having an experienced Realtor to guide you through each step can make your experience a positive one.

Prior to buying a home, you’ve got some things to get done. Below is a comprehensive list of things you should consider before buying a home in Northeast Florida (or anywhere in the U.S.).

1. Get Pre-Qualified

Most people borrow money from a lender to make a home purchase. Most lenders will tell you how much money they are willing to give you prior to you actually finding a home. This process is called pre-qualification or pre-approval. Banks like Bank of England (based in Arkansas) focus on mortgages exclusively. Mortgage brokers, like Navigator Mortgage, shop around many mortgage lenders to find the best value for you. Both of these institutions are located in Jacksonville, FL and can serve you well. Here’s what they’ll need from you in order to get you pre-qualified quickly:

  • Your last three pay stubs - One note: Whether you’re employed with a company or self-employed, you’ll need to have at least one year of consistent work history at the same job in order to borrow money from most lenders.

  • Tax return documents for the last two years or more - Lenders want to make sure you’re paying taxes and that you actually earn what you say you do.

  • Social security number - This is used to check your credit score. Your credit will go down slightly, maybe a couple of points, but this will be required by any lender and it’s the only way for you to get an accurate pre-qualification. The good news is that a couple of points won’t really hurt most people at all and your score will only be reduced one time within a 45 day window, so you can shop around multiple lenders without extra penalties.

  • Bank account statements - Lenders want to see exactly how much money you have and what your monthly recurring expenses look like.

2. Choose a Realtor

Ideally, I hope you’ll work with me, but here’s why I am probably a great fit for you if you’re looking to buy or sell a home in Northeast Florida from a logical perspective:

  • I am a licensed Broker-Associate with ERA Heavener Realty in Jacksonville - This means that I have extra training than most Realtors and I am licensed to run my own brokerage. I choose not to so that I can focus on serving customers instead of managing other Realtors. Plus, ERA is one of the largest real estate companies in the U.S. so I have excellent resources to support my customers.

  • I have over three consecutive years of extremely positive results for my customers - Every customer that I’ve worked with to help find a home has found a great home that met their needs. Every listing I have taken has sold, with the exception of a couple that I had to release because they changed their minds about selling.

  • I know my role - There is no magic in showing houses to my customers. My greatest value is guiding them through the steps required to get from looking for homes to actually closing. Choosing the wrong Realtor could mean that you end up paying more than you should or you may never close on your ideal home.

  • I have a checklist-driven management system - Over the years, I’ve created a checklist that I follow with each transaction to ensure the ball is never dropped. There are many steps when it comes to buying a home. I handle most of them for you.

3. Use the Best Home Search Tools, Zillow, Trulia, Redfin, and any other home search site that the general public has access to is likely not accurate. Additionally, those sites are designed to collect your personal information and sell it to advertisers, like other Realtors. The only way that you’ll be able to see the most accurate results is by working with a Realtor who can extend you access to the Multiple Listing Service, the source for accurate home listings (literally where Zillow, etc. pull their info). Here’s a link to my home search portal. You will be asked to create an account. I encourage you to do so in order to save searches.

Ryan Winter