Buying a home in Islamorada with Claire Johnson, Coastal Realty of the Florida Keys

Purchasing a home is stressful for most people, but it's not all that difficult with some planning ahead of time. So you understand exactly what to expect, I like to give my buyers an overview of the entire deal. Here are my nine steps to buying a home.

Looking for listings? Click here to see my homes, or contact me today to get you more information on any home in the area.

Step 1 – Get ready to purchase
There are a lot of things you need to consider before commencing your Islamorada home search and Key Largo home search. It's likely that you'll want to create an outline of must-have features, whether you want to be on the water front or non-water front, nearby schools, control depth at the canal entrance, if bridge heights are a factor for your boat, determining which island you want to live on, and start planning around your budget. Keeping your mortgage payment less than or around 30 percent of your monthly income is a good rule of thumb to go by.

Step 2 – Contact a real estate agent
That's where I can help. I'd be happy to set up a time to meet with you and speak with you about your real estate needs and get an idea of your upcoming plans. We'll talk about the mortgage and housing industries, other economic factors that could affect your buying decision today or in the future, as well as neighborhoods, nearby schools and boating accessibility in the Islamorada area.

I can also assist you in getting started on your loan. There are some very good mortgage professionals in Islamorada, and I partner with a lot of them, so you'll be in great hands. They'll assist you with choosing which kind of loan is best for you and help you get approved.

Step 3 – Begin your home search
After we meet for the first time, I'll start finding houses on the market that suit your needs. I'll research most of the houses and ignore the bad ones, and then we'll schedule appointments to view the houses when it's most convenient for you.

When we tour the houses, I'll identify good features and bad ones. I'll even ask you what things you like and don't like. For the most part, buyers revise their must-have list as we view homes and some things become far more essential than others. If such is the case, I'll go back through the listings once again and trim it down to the home of your dreams.

Step 4 – Understand the market
My understanding of the Islamorada housing market is a valuable advantage in your home search. I'm mindful of all the water accessibility, control depths of the canal entrances,  bridge heights, nearby schools and neighborhoods.  I have held my captains license for almost 2 decades and have been boating around these waters on my own since 1997.  

As we tour houses, I'll be sure to tell you if the asking price has room for negotiation or if I believe the home is "priced to sell." When working with an agent, be careful and make sure you ask lots of questions, as any real estate agent in Islamorada will claim to know the home market. If things don't add up, call me at (305) 731-4602 or e-mail me at, and I'd be glad to answer any questions you may have. My knowledge of the market will keep you a step ahead through the entire deal.

Step 5 – Find your dream home
I'm sure we'll find your dream home in the Islamorada area, and when we do, I'll meticulously develop your real estate purchase offer. The offer will be tailored to suit your needs. Whenever necessary, I never forget to make contracts contingent upon items like your ability to secure financing and the results of the home inspection.

Let Coastal Realty of the Florida Keys guide you through finding your dream home in Islamorada When presenting your offer, you'll want to present "earnest money." This is a cash deposit made to a seller to secure an offer to purchase the property, and it's usually applied to the cost of closing. If the seller accepts your offer, we should close within 30 to 60 days afterward. This allows ample time for your mortgage financing.

Step 6 – Negotiate
Most contracts aren't closed on the initial offer – it's widely common to receive a counter offer. Don't let it alarm you. We'll discuss whether or not to accept the counter offer, propose our own counter offer, or reject the seller's offer and move on.

Market conditions will play a big part in how aggressively we negotiate the contract. In addition, we'll work within your budget. And at the end of the day, we'll create a deal that's best for you.

Step 7 – Get your loan
After the contract is signed, you'll begin working with your mortgage lender to close the loan. It shouldn't take much time at all if you've been pre-qualified, but you need to keep in close contact with your mortgage lender. And I'll care for all the property information your lender needs to close the loan.>

Step 8 – Close the deal
You'll get a Good Faith Estimate (GFE) detailing your closing costs from your lender within three days of taking your loan application. This estimate is formed from the loan amount, and RESPA requirements require that it has to involve all closing costs and fall within a close range of accuracy. I'll examine the estimate and let you know if everything looks permissible.

Then it's time to close on your house. This will likely occur at a title company or escrow office and should be a smooth and easygoing occurrence.

Step 9 – Move in
Success! It's time to move into your new house. Enjoy it. And if you need anything, be sure to contact me at (305) 731-4602 or send me an e-mail.

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