Lisa Coflin Heisner | St Petersburg Real Estate, Clearwater:FL Real Estate, Largo Real Estate


For many individuals, the homebuying journey often begins with getting pre-approved for a mortgage. Because if a buyer has a mortgage, he or she can enter the real estate market with a budget in hand.

Ultimately, there are many signs that now may be the perfect time to apply for a mortgage, and these include:

1. You're ready to upgrade from an apartment to a home.

If you're tired of paying monthly rent for an apartment, purchasing a house offers a viable alternative. And if you get pre-approved for a mortgage, you can move one step closer to moving from an apartment to a house.

In most instances, a home offers a significant upgrade over an apartment. Many residences are available in cities and towns nationwide that offer more space than apartments. Plus, as a homeowner, you won't have to worry about dealing with a landlord.

2. You feel good about your credit score.

If you have a strong credit score, you likely are a great candidate for a mortgage. In fact, you may be better equipped than others to get a favorable interest rate on the mortgage of your choice.

Understanding your credit score is a key part of the homebuying journey. You can request a free copy of your credit report annually from each of the three credit reporting bureaus (Equifax, Experian and TransUnion). Then, once you find out your credit score, you can determine whether you are in good shape to pursue a mortgage.

3. A buyer's market is in place.

In a buyer's market, there usually is an abundance of top-notch houses and a shortage of buyers. This means a homebuyer may be able to get a wonderful deal on a house, especially if he or she performs a comprehensive house search.

To find out whether a buyer's market is in place, you should check out the prices of recently sold houses in your area. Also, you may want to find out how long recently sold houses were listed before they sold. By reviewing this housing market data, you can differentiate a buyer's market from a seller's market and decide whether now is the right time to apply for a mortgage.

If you're interested in getting a mortgage and starting a house search, you may want to hire a real estate agent too. Because if you have a real estate agent at your side, you can receive extensive support at each stage of the property buying journey.

A real estate agent will teach you everything you need to know about pursuing a house. He or she will offer insights into the local housing market and ensure that you can conduct a successful house search. And if you ever have concerns or questions along the way, a real estate agent is ready to respond to them.

Want to launch a home search? Get pre-approved for a mortgage, and you can take the first step to acquire your ideal residence.


If this is your first time buying a home, you might be worried that you aren’t asking enough questions. Or maybe you’re concerned you’re not asking the right questions--the things that matter the most when making a financial decision as important and life-changing as buying a home.  

While everyone’s situation is unique when buying a home, there are some questions that all buyers could benefit from asking. These questions will help you learn more about the home, how competitive the house is, and how much work you’ll need to put into it.

Since time is usually of the essence for people buying a home, it makes sense to ask questions early on so that you don’t waste too much time exploring an option that isn’t ideal for your situation.

In this article, we’re going to give you 5 important questions to ask when you talk to a seller and their agent so that you can be prepared to make the best decision for you or your family.

1. How flexible is the asking price?

While few sellers or agents will outright tell you if they’d accept a lower offer, it’s still a good idea to ask this question, as it will open up a conversation about the seller’s feelings toward the home and whether they’re pricing high with the hopes of receiving slightly lower offers.

2. How many offers has the home received?

It may seem counterintuitive, but most agents and sellers will be quite happy to tell you if they’ve received other offers. They know that once you know the current offer you’ll have to either come up with a higher offer or move on. It’s a win-win for you and the seller, as it equips both of you with information you need to make the best choice.

3. Why are the sellers moving away?

This question can be personal, so if you receive an answer that suggests it’s a family matter, don’t press for too many details. However, some sellers and agents will let you know exactly why the house is for sale. From this simple question, you can learn the seller’s timeline for making the sale, details about the schools or neighborhoods, and any other reason that might drive someone to move out of the neighborhood.

4. Are there any problems with the house that you know of?

Although you’ll have an inspection contingency in your contract if you do decide to make an offer on the home, it’s better to know if there are any issues with the home before going through the bidding process.

Most sellers understand this and will be upfront about any problems with the home, including repairs that need to be made now or will need to be made soon after you move in.

5. What is the average cost of utilities?

Buying a home comes with a lot of added costs and fees. However, many people forget about the changes in the cost of utilities that comes with buying a home--especially if you’re moving from an apartment where some utilities may have been included.

The seller will be able to give you a good estimate on the cost of electricity, garbage removal, internet, heat, and more.


House hunting can be time-consuming. With so many houses currently on the market and so little time to spend visiting homes, it’s important to narrow down your search as much as possible before attending a showing.

Fortunately, in today’s digital world, it’s possible to learn a great deal of important information right from your phone or computer.

In today’s post, I’m going to give you some advice on researching the homes you’re thinking about making an offer on. We’ll talk about researching the neighborhood, and--of course--the house itself.

Putting together all the stats on the home

Let’s start with, arguably, the most important thing to research: the house itself. When you want to learn about a home, the best place to look is usually the real estate listing. Since most of us discover homes through listings, odds are you’re already on this page. However, there’s a lot of information in a listing, so take the time to go through it and gleam whatever you can from the home’s description.

Next, Google the house address and click on listings from other real estate sites. Oftentimes, a house that has been sold before will have multiple listings across the internet with different data.

Once you’ve scoured the listings, head over to the county assessor’s website to look at records of the home’s ownership. This will tell you who bought and sold the home and when. There’s much you can learn from this data, especially if a home is being sold frequently. You can also use this information to contact previous owners to ask them questions about the home that the current owner might not know the answer to.

Snooping around the neighborhood

If the house is nearby, simply driving through the neighborhood can tell you a lot. You can visit the neighborhood during rush hour to see what the traffic is like, for example.

However, it isn’t always practical to take the time to visit a house that you aren’t sure you’re interested in. So, what’s the next best thing? Google Maps.

Visit the neighborhood on Google Maps to see what’s in the area. Are there a lot of closed businesses? That could be a sign of a neighborhood in decline. Check for nearby things like parks, grocery stores, and other amenities that could influence your buying decision.

Next, use Google’s “street view” feature and explore the neighborhood. You can see what kind of shape the other homes are in, and find out the condition of infrastructure like roads and sidewalks.

Note addresses of comparable homes in the neighborhood and look up their purchase prices. This will give you an idea of whether the home is being priced appropriately.

If you’re having trouble finding information on a home, such as sale records, try contacting the local assessor. They should be able to point you to a database that will help you in your search.


Conducting a successful Florida luxury home search is no small feat, regardless of whether you want to acquire your dream residence in St. Augustine, Tampa Bay or elsewhere in the Sunshine State. However, there are many things you can do to speed up the process of finding your ideal Florida luxury house.

Now, let's take a look at three tips to help you initiate a successful Sunshine State luxury house search.

1. Establish Homebuying Criteria

With homebuying criteria in hand, you can quickly and effortlessly search for your ideal Florida luxury residence.

Oftentimes, it helps to make a list of Florida luxury home must-haves before you launch a house search. This list will enable you to determine exactly what you want to find in your dream house and map out your home search accordingly.

If you want to own a luxury home that provides convenient access to Disney World, for example, you may want to search for houses in and around Orlando. Or, if you want to own a Miami luxury house that boasts a spacious outdoor swimming pool, you can search for a South Beach residence that matches your expectations.

2. Secure a Jumbo Mortgage

A jumbo mortgage may prove to be important, particularly for those who want to purchase a Florida luxury house without delay. If you enter the Sunshine State luxury housing market with a jumbo mortgage at your disposal, you can search for homes that fall within your budget.

If you are unsure about how a jumbo mortgage works, there is no need to stress. Banks are happy to teach you everything you need to know about how to finance a Florida luxury house. Plus, they can educate you about all aspects of jumbo mortgages and help you make an informed home financing decision.

In addition, don't hesitate to ask questions as you review your Florida luxury home financing options. If you meet with jumbo mortgage specialists at banks, you can gain the insights you need to find the right jumbo mortgage.

3. Hire a Real Estate Agent

When it comes to searching for a luxury home in Tallahassee, Fort Lauderdale or any other Florida city or town, it generally is a good idea to work with a real estate agent. Because if you employ a real estate agent who understands the Sunshine State luxury housing market, you can get the help you need to instantly find your dream residence.

First, a real estate agent will teach you about the luxury housing market in your preferred Florida cities and towns. He or she next will help you pursue your ideal luxury residence in Lake Worth, Gainesville or anywhere else in the Sunshine State. And if you find a Florida luxury house you want to buy, a real estate agent will help you acquire this residence as quickly as possible.

Ready to kick off a successful Florida luxury home search? Use the aforementioned tips, and you can seamlessly navigate the Sunshine State luxury homebuying journey.


If you intend to pursue a Florida luxury house, it helps to prepare accordingly. That way, you can identify and address any potential pitfalls that otherwise may prevent you from acquiring your ideal Sunshine State luxury residence.

Ultimately, there are several important steps to follow to acquire a Florida luxury house, and these are:

1. Connect with a Florida Real Estate Agent

Regardless of whether you're searching for a luxury home that is just minutes from Disney World or a luxury house in South Beach, it pays to hire a real estate agent. In fact, a real estate agent will make it simple for you to streamline your Sunshine State luxury house search.

A real estate agent understands that no two Florida luxury homebuyers are exactly alike. As such, this housing market professional will learn about you and your luxury homebuying goals and help you tailor your home search accordingly.

Of course, it helps to hire a real estate agent with Florida luxury housing market experience too. With this real estate agent at your side, you can minimize the risk of problems as you proceed along the Sunshine State luxury homebuying journey.

2. Browse Luxury Houses

Once you hire a real estate agent, you can start checking out Florida luxury houses in the cities and towns of your choice.

Keep in mind both your immediate and long-term plans as you pursue Sunshine State luxury residences.

For instance, if you want a Florida luxury home near the Salvador Dali Museum, you should check out luxury residences in and around St. Petersburg. Or, if you can't get enough Florida Gators football, it may be best to pursue luxury houses in Gainesville, aka the heart of Gators country.

3. Submit an Offer

If you find a Florida luxury home that you want to buy, don't hesitate to make an offer. Because the longer that you wait to submit a proposal, the more likely it becomes that a rival homebuyer will swoop in and acquire your dream house.

Before you submit an offer, it helps to consult with your real estate agent. This housing market professional knows the ins and outs of what it takes to get an instant "Yes" from a seller. Therefore, he or she can offer expert recommendations about how to submit a competitive offer from the get-go.

If you receive a "Yes" from a seller, you likely will need to complete a home inspection, obtain a mortgage and perform myriad other tasks before you finalize your purchase agreement.

Conversely, if you receive a "No" from a seller, there is no need to worry. In this scenario, it is important to remember that plenty of luxury houses are available in Miami, Tampa Bay and other cities and towns across the Sunshine State. Therefore, you can reenter the luxury housing market and should have no trouble finding your ideal luxury house in the near future.

Follow the aforementioned steps closely, and you can quickly and effortlessly navigate the Florida luxury homebuying process.