Preparation Steps for Home Buyers | Mortgage | Cash | Investors | Incentives | Professionals

Preparation Steps for Home Buyers

Please read this over carefully from top to bottom on a large screen device like a computer.  It covers many topics, potential home buyers should know.  What steps to take and avoid.  This guide will save everyone time. Only you know your situation.

Real Estate has a process with regulations that need to be followed to purchase a home. The info here is general and can change anytime. 

Sales associates at every builder DO NOT represent the buyer!  Its in the contract. They are paid to be nice!

Rich Noto can not help home buyers after they have made mistakes. Many times unknowingly, and are in a contract.  Preventing issues (BEFORE CONTRACT and During the Process) on the largest purchase most people ever make over a lifetime is important.  A strategy is always required and unique to the current situation.

Mortage Pre approval for home buyers is a top step

Market Updates
  • March 2021 many home builders are using waiting lists due to extremely high buyer demand!  Buyers need to be well prepared to have better opportunities.  Let’s do this together the best way.
  • June 2021.  Buyer pressure is increasing.  Bidding over the asking price is happening on new homes at many locations, and resales.  Wait lists are longer and require proof of cash funds or mortgage approval letter to be on lists.  Prices are increasing with demand, building supply shortages and wood costs.  Appliances are also having shortages.
  • August 2021.  The above applies.
  • November 2021.  Market has slowed a bit for the holidays which is typical.
  • Late January 2022.  The buyers are showing strength already.  Homes are selling fast especially in the Vacation/Investment house market.  With multiple offers in a few days.
  • March 2022. Homes are still selling fast. Here is how home sales were in March Click HERE.
  • April 2022. Supply chain shortages have created slowdown with builders.  Long wait lists.  Homes are selling fast with many offers. Cash buyers have advantages.  A strong strategy is required for being successful acquiring a house.
  • June 2022.  Housing market started showing changes in April.  Fed Hiked interest rates again, .75 a few days ago and it is showing its impact with rates in the mid/low 6% range.  The best condition homes or best priced are selling the fastest and for most money.  The buy any beat up house for highest price and no appraisal contingency/home inspection logic is vanishing.  Many of the best towns/communities are becoming the focus of buyers.  Sellers(resale and builders) are dropping prices and becoming more realistic, especially with less desirable locations/homes.  More homes are coming back to the market after failed buyer mortgage approvals.
  • October 2022. Home sales have gradually slowed since April.  The Fed has to keep raising rates to fight inflation and the talk is in November another .75% rate hike should happen.  Mortgage Rates for 30year fixed are around 7% now.

Home Buyer Initial Steps to follow:

  1. Do not contact any builders.  This can VOID your paid by the builder, Rich Noto’s Realtor Representation.  Using a builders website contact form, email, phone call, or entering sales office may void your free Realtor Representation.  Once the builder has your contact information(email/phone), or knows your face, it may be in the builders policy to not allow your Realtor to help. Contact Rich Noto and let me know if you already have contacted a builder.  I will contact the builder and see if I can still be of help.  Remember there is no charge to the buyer for my service as the builder pays for it, typically from the marketing plan.  It does not reduce, or eliminate any incentives and discounts that the builders will offer.  “Use it or lose it”  Builders do not reduce the price of homes when buyers pass on the Realtor service.
  2. Get a Mortgage Pre-Approval(not pre qualification). Best done as early as possible so buyer can form a plan and correct any issues that (can take years to fix) may have prevented a Mortgage loan approval (See videos below).  This can be done through a broker, bank or builder.  Verify the Monthly payment and interest rate is right for you.  Verify the terms are ok based on your move type (like moving from another state).  This is essential in the process without it there is no way to know how much the bank will lend, or how much a buyer can spend.  Home builders and home sellers will ask for approval letter(make sure its not to old)to confirm the buyer has the funds(currently) and ability to pay (verbal assurances will not be accepted). The lender may say a buyers current home needs to be sold first. The lender will give a pre-approval letter stating the mortgage amount.  This can be done online and typically takes a few minutes.  Some sellers may only allow home to be shown to those with approvals 2021+Florida+Realtor+Legal+News&utm_source=iPost&utm_medium=email    Contact Rich Noto for better guidance.
  3. For Cash buyers. Verification of funds with 2 months consecutive bank statements, or a Certified Bank Letter, with name/s that match a photo drivers license are required. The Certified Bank Letter must state the cash fund amount and/or a Mortgage pre-approval Letter. The pre-approval letter will state that funds have been verified. The mortgage does not have to be used. The cash can still be used to make the purchase. A buyer will look more attractive to sellers having both the cash and bank mortgage backing.
  4. If an investment property needs to be sold to purchase a new property then the investment property should be sold first so the cash funds are available. Most Home sellers will not put a property on hold, and wait for months while a property is being sold. If a 1039 tax exchange is going to be completed then a licensed Accountant or Florida real estate tax attorney should be consulted with.  Some home builders may write this into the contract. Verification will be required that the property is currently listed and a copy of the listing agreement will be required.
  5. Have a down payment.  All new homes will require a deposit or a down payment on the home.  Home builders typically keep this money and it becomes non-refundable.  A Residential home buyer should have a minimum of 5% the purchase price, with 10% being much more widely accepted (10-20% for investment property).  Example a $300,000 house will require $15,000-30,000 down. When the mortgage pre-approval is completed the lender will confirm this deposit money.
  6. Is the down payment money being used right for you?  Before looking at homes speak to the lender that gave the mortgage pre approval to find out what assets will need to be used for the purchase.  For Example sometimes buyers will sell stock, 401k, Roth Ira, mutual funds and other investments.  Now is the time to decide if selling those things is something you as a buyer want to do and feel strongly about.
  7. Stocks, Lawsuit Money, Gifts or other future funds.  Money for these situations must be in a account Prior(before) looking at homes. Builders/Sellers do not want to hear “the money is arriving at some time in the future”  The money must be in a account preferably for 2 months or more. Speak to your mortgage lender or financial advisor first for help.
  8. Contingency not usually offered.  Builders typically will not build a home for a buyer based on the sale of a current home.  Builders typically want the deposit amount of 5 or 10%. Sometimes its less based on FHA loan or townhome.  At the time of the closing the rest of the money is required.  If that is not met buyer will default and builder will keep deposit.
  9. If a home or investment property needs to be sold, to pay for a new home, then the home should be sold first, or well timed.  A very limited amount of home builders will allow some kind of a contingency.  Most home builders will not. The home would need to be purchased the standard way. If a home is being built then the deposit would be required and is typically non-refundable.  A buyer can go to contract to purchase a home and then over the 5 to 8 months while the home is being built sell the current home. This is the most common method.  It is a good idea to have plans to potentially move into an apartment short term. 
  10. Payment Plans not available.  Builders do not offer monthly payment plans or ways to hold homes. Mortgage is required!
  11. HOA Homeowners Association and/or CDD Community Development District Fee.  HOA fees are common in Florida. CDD is not as common.  If looking at a property online verify the fees.  Many condos seem amazing based on the price but after adding in the Fees it can be more expensive then larger homes.
  12. Fast selling homes. In the current market homes are selling extremely fast.  Most home builders are selling 10 to 60+ homes per month. The homes that are available on the market today may be sold off the market the next day.  With that said it is very important to be prepared early on.  Focusing on a home that may sell the next day is not practical if it cannot be purchased based on not having a mortgage pre-approval, having to sell a property first, or the time frame is far out (like not ready to buy for 6 months).  The only homes that matter are those available at the time the buyer is ready to purchase.
  13. Special deals and incentives.  As with the previous step, incentives and special deals change on a day-to-day basis. The only incentives, deals and pricing that matter are the ones that are available when a buyer is ready to make a purchase.  My realtor service does not reduce what a buyer can get.  But many times maximizes it through a strategy or special offers.
  14. Homeowners insurance.  While typically not a major expense it is still one.  Just like with car insurance, Its a great idea to price around various companies to get the best deal.
  15. Decide if you are Serious.  Address these issues first before seeing homes!  Ask yourself if this is right for you?  Is this something serious or just temporary excitement/entertainment like watching HGTV.  Serious buyers don’t view homes then decide not to buy for reasons like the state or government has debt, fear of world economy collapse, great depression is coming, waiting on market pullback, the weather, or conspiracy theories.  These kind of issues are reasons that confirm buying a home is not right for the buyer, and the house was never wanted from the start.
  16. Transparency and Honesty.  As a buyer it is important to be upfront and honest about things.  Holding back information will not help.  Builders/sellers may refuse to sell the home to a buyer if they suspect something is not right.  Mortgages will not lend.  Hiding something from the mortgage early on may cause a loss of the buyers deposit when the mortgage finds the issue, weeks later and decides not to lend.
  17. Build times and Offers. Closing on a new construction home that is completed takes about 1 month.  If the home is not built, including land permits it will be about 5-9 months.  In the current market builders mainly hold firm to asking price.  They are not desperate and can’t even keep up with the buyer demand.  Buyers that have a mindset builders will accept reduced price offers will be disappointed.
  18. Home Builders do not offer to pay for travel expenses or hotels for people that view communities.

2 huge mistakes buyers make assuming they will get loan amount they want

Future Retirement Home Buyers, or longer term outlook

  1. The information on the page applies.
  2. Get a mortgage approval early as possible (some issues take years to fix), or certified bank letter for cash. Sellers will sell to buyers who have proof of the cash in the bank and/or mortgage approval letter.  The ones who “still have to sell or get approved” get ignored.  Smart house sellers will not risk/delay waiting weeks or months for a buyers home to sell.
  3. If buyer has a home to sell, to acquire the cash, then the home needs to be sold first.  Its common for the buyer to move into a rental short term.  OR Home buyer can get mortgage to proceed with purchase.  Then sell the home at buyers leisure.  This will help prevent moving to a rental property.

See my home sellers guide here

real estate steps for a home purchase

Short and Long Term Rental Property, Income and Vacation Homes

If the purchase is for rental income the time to decide is BEFORE seeing Florida rental homes in personThe time to research how much homes are charging to rent is now.

No one during the process will be able to offer guarantees about how the home will rent in the future or possibly how it rented in the past.  For example the home may have months with 0% zero occupancy and/or it may have months with 90%.

The future is always unknown, and the past indications were based on demand and other circumstances at that time.  If you require guarantees about rental income (Return on investment), then buying a rental property is possibly not right.  Like any business there are ones that succeed or fail.  There are many landlords and property investment companies that are very successful.

Buyer is responsible for researching rental rates and occupancy before seeing homes in person.

As a Realtor I will go over the pros and cons of various homes, communities, locations, and more tips, in person only. For Vacation and investment properties.  Rich Noto has experience from a past occupation, working with thousands of tourists, sports competitors, and business conference travelers. It gave me a unique understand of what the renters need for hotels/homes/accommodations/special needs and amenities. This is something as a Realtor Rich Noto would of NOT of ever known.  Being a annual passholder and experience with the theme parks for over 15 years adds to his knowledge to guide when buying a Vacation/Rental Property. 

Many potential buyers want a “successful rental“.  Like any business, success depends on the business owner. What will the buyer do to buy the best home, and make the home special/accommodating for renters?  Many times I receive calls from potential investors who want “High Rate of Return”  But they don’t want to put in effort They want to buy something ready to go, that is less desirable and accommodating to the renters!  Cheap properties in poor locations are typically not high rate of return.

Factors to consider(get out the pen and paper):

  • Type of house.
  • Location/Amenities.
  • Who is managing the property?
  • How its marketed?
  • New and updated home with warranty?
  • Backup money to put into old or damaged resale home.
  • Hire a investment advisor!
  • Hire a Florida Real Estate Attorney for rental agreements!
  • What will make the home special?
  • How much is the Property Management split?
  • Costs to run the house(utilities, mortgage, taxes, repairs, HOA, CDD, Property Management)
  • Long Term vs Short Term income and costs.
  • Not every “rented house” will offer a profit and loss.
  • Costs to update the property
  • Costs to make property more desirable for the renters

Decide your investment/vacation home goals before looking at homes!

  • What is the monthly earnings goal?
  • Is it a home that is wanted more for vacations and if it makes some money, whatever it may be(big or small) will go towards the mortgage?
  • Is it all about income and making money?
  • If you have heard people say “I have a rental home and the tenants are paying the my mortgage”  For some investors this is fine because the plan is to sell the home in years to come for the profit.  The monthly income is probably more of a break even.  For example the mortgage payment is $2000 per month.  The home is renting for $2500 monthly.
  • It can be a percentage goal such as 20% of the purchase price.

Florida Ranks #2 For Short Term Rental Occupancy on Airbnb Click For Article

Create a Home Needs and Wants List

The list should have 2 columns or sections.

Needs are the essentials.  For example a home with a shingle roof.  Or a family of 3, needing 3 bedrooms.  Distance to work.  School quality.  2 car garage for 2 cars.  A community gym to save money for paying for a gym membership.

Wants are the extras.  A home with a tile roof.  The family of 3 wanting 4/5 bedrooms.  Wants can be things like a pool in the community.  A pool in the backyard can be a extra bonus.  A 3 car garage for 2 cars.

Resale Used Homes

Most of the resale homes have issues.  The costs to repair many times out costs just buying new.  The resale house usually needs updating, renovating and/or repairs   Many of them will have odors that can be musty/mildew/smoke/pets/overall filthy.  These smells will be appalling to some people and ok for others.

When considering resale its a good idea to go to your local Lowes/Home Depot and/or other contractor that may be local to service the house.  Find out the cost FIRST of new floors/rugs, windows, doors, cabinets, sinks, labor costs from electricians/plumbers/carpenters…..

how long will your home last. Estimated lifespan of parts. Rich Noto Real Estate

What will Rich Noto need to properly start working for and represent a buyer?
  1. A Copy of the mortgage pre-approval letter and/or proof of cash funds financial institution bank letter.
  2. Signed buyer brokerage representation agreement and required disclosures.
  3. Confirmation from Builders, the Buyer has not registered, or been registered, or in with another Realtor.
  4. Schedule Dates/Times to see homes. Due to a busy schedule, last minute, short notice help may not be available.  Contact me to see when I am free.


For Vacation and investment properties.  I have experience from a past occupation, working with thousands of tourists, sports competitors, and business conference travelers. It gave him a unique understand of what the renters needs are for hotels/homes/accommodations/special needs and amenities.  This is something as a Realtor I would of NOT of ever known.  Being a annual passholder and experience with the theme parks for over 15 years adds to my knowledge.

  • Advice to Avoid the Dangers with Buying
  • Better Price Negotiation
  • Possible Special OffersMortage made easy
  • Knowledge of Competitor Pricing/Incentives
  • Overall Guidance Knowledge of Deal Structure
  • Construction Trained Advice
  • Early Special Builder Pre-Walkthrough Help
  • Early Planning for Buyers
  • Mortgage Pre Approval Advice and Guidance
  • Best Price Strategy
  • Photos taken during the build process (every 1-3 weeks)for far away buyers
  • Possible exclusive special incentives
  • Home Inspection Advice
  • Use sales associates at builders up to my High Standards
  • In person information is NOT on this website
  • Rental Property Strategies
  • Attending Builder Walkthrough (when properly scheduled)
  • Building Construction
  • Educating Buyers
  • First Time Home Buyers
  • Vacation and Resort Homes
  • Resort Rental Property
  • Full Time Residential Living
  • Investment Property Strategies
  • Moves to Florida from other States
  • Area Knowledge
  • Tourism

The back of Rich Noto Business Card shows some of the additional Real Estate based certifications earned

Rich Noto Realtor Certifications

Smart Home Buyers Florida Licensed Essential Professionals

Seek them out early on. So they are on call when needed. As a Realtor the scope of my license is regulated, limited, and will not be overstepped.  Some of these professionals are more essential for used resale properties.

  1. Realtor – For guidance, advise, and helping avoid from hazards. Realtors are not all the same!
  2. Home Inspector – For finding and documenting home damage/defects, and/or incorrect building assembly.
  3. Florida Real Estate Attorney –  For builder contract review, resale agreements, and all legal questions. Find the lawyer before looking. As many builders/sellers will only allow a few days or less to sign.  Realtors are not lawyers and can’t answer legal questions. Have you attorney on call!
  4. Accountant – For irs tax questions.
  5. Investment Advisor – For advice about where to invest money. “Is this a good investment?”
  6. Home Appraiser – Typically the Mortgage companies send Appraisers out to make sure the home is worth it.  But Appraisers are great to have for Cash buyers of Resale Homes.
  7. Pest Control Company – When evaluation a used resale house its important to know what’s living in it.  Wood destroying organisms like termites, carpenter ants.  Roaches, spiders and other insects that may not be appealing.
  8. Homeowners Insurance Agent – This is the person to get a quote for homeowners insurance and ask questions.  Contrary to popular belief most homeowners policy’s do not cover slow leak water damage.   Ask your agent for more info.

Home Buyer In Person Preparation – Be Ready

  1. Be on time/early.  If the appointment is 10am arrive a few minutes early.  Sales associates at builders will take another customer that walks in at 10:01 am.   Other parties involved will not appreciate waiting around and may cancel.
  2. Pick a time that really works and Plan Ahead. Stopping to eat at 10am or just starting to drive at 10am is not good.  Parties involved have other customers and obligations.
  3. Dress for the occasionWear shoes that protect the feet and can get dirty.  Buying a new home typically involves walking on dirt empty home sites and construction locations.  Insects, Nails and Splintered Wood will be on the ground.  Sandals are a poor choice.
  4. Pack drinks and snacks.  This will help clear thinking.  Stopping for food may not be a option.
  5. Umbrellas for rain.

Far Away Buyers Lodging

Many of my out of Florida State customers will look for hotels/condos/AirBnB/Vrbo type rentals.  Rates change based on time of year.  Some landlords have great short term rental properties that may be rented for a few days or even months.

Some customers use these type of rentals to move first and get a feel of the area while seeing homes.  They may also use these for moving early after they sell a home in their state while waiting on a build to complete.

I can offer suggestions for hotels or location based to be more convenient for the search location.

7 Home Buyer Types and why they pass of fail with Resale Home Sellers, Home Builders and Realtors.
Must watch video –  Mortgage issues and down payment information. 



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Mortgage loan amount, interest rate, credit score misconceptions

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