Buying a new home in Tampa has its own challenges—and its own rewards. To succeed during the home buying process here, buyers need to stay on top of market changes and know their options regarding home loans and home buying programs.
Also, pay attention to the quality and location of the home if you want to get the most value for your money.
Here are the top things to watch out for when buying a house in Tampa.
1. Monthly Payment
Making the move from renting to homeownership, or from one home to another, requires a careful look at your finances. Run the numbers to see how much you can afford to pay per month.
With a mortgage, the amount of your monthly payment will change based on several variables:
- How much you put down
- The interest rate on your home loan
- Your property taxes
- Any HOA fees
Your down payment will affect how much you need to borrow for your home loan. The more you put down, the less you have to borrow. But you don’t have to put down the traditional 20%. Many homebuyer programs, like FHA loans, let you put down as little as 3.5%. This can make it easier to buy a home.
Don’t forget to include closing costs when calculating how much you’ll pay when you close on your new home.
The mortgage rates you qualify for depend significantly on your credit score, current debt, and financial situation. Always get a pre-approval from your lender first. This helps set a budget and makes it easier to shop for a home because sellers know you’re a serious buyer.
There are still other costs that can go into your monthly payment. In addition to the principal, interest, and home insurance, your property taxes are often part of your mortgage payment. The city and county set them.
If you choose a home in a neighborhood with a homeowners association (HOA), you’ll also need to pay HOA fees. These can be several hundred dollars per month, depending on your community and its amenities.
2. Real Estate Market
Overall, the Tampa area housing market has cooled slightly, but it’s still one of the hottest markets in the U.S., according to Zillow. Whether you’re buying in South Tampa, Clearwater, St. Petersburg, or Pinellas, expect to deal with a seller’s market. When finding a home for sale in Tampa, you may need to get creative, offer above asking, or prioritize certain things on your wishlist over others.
While the number of homes for sale in the Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater area increased in 2022, overall Tampa housing inventory has been shrinking since 2019. That means fewer homes are available for the people who want them.
It seems like everyone is looking to invest in Tampa real estate, doesn’t it? Despite a decreased supply, there is still demand for the remaining homes on the market, leading to an increase in listing prices. Tampa home prices are expected to continue to rise in 2023.
3. Tampa First-Time Homebuyer Programs
These housing programs offer financial assistance for qualified first-time homebuyers in Tampa.
City Of Tampa Mortgage Assistance Program
The City of Tampa Mortgage Assistance Program (MAP) offers down payment assistance loans of up to $15,000 to buyers with eligible incomes.
Dare To Own The Dream
This program provides up to $40,000 in loans with 0% interest and $0 monthly payments, which can be forgiven after ten years in the home.
East Tampa CRA Down Payment Assistance
These forgivable loans provide up to $50,000 toward the home’s purchase price to eligible buyers.
Home Sweet Home Hillsborough Program
Hillsborough County buyers may qualify for up to $25,000 in down payment assistance with this 0% interest, 30-year mortgage, repayable when you sell the home.
Mortgage Credit Certificate
MCC programs offer tax credits on your federal income taxes, reducing your liability dollar for dollar. Florida’s MCC provides up to $2,000 in credits, as does Hillsborough County’s program.
4. Flood Zones
When shopping for Florida homes, think about water (and not just the view). Areas in Hillsborough County, including Tampa, are in flood zones, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA). Looking up your flood zone is one of our key Tampa house-buying tips.
Flood Insurance Vs. Homeowners Insurance
Understand that homeowners insurance does not cover flood damage. You’ll need to purchase coverage separately, and your lender may require it.
Flood Insurance Costs
How much you’ll pay for flood insurance varies depending on the zone you’re in, as well as whether you buy from a private insurer or the National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP), but expect to pay from a few hundred to a few thousand per year.
5. Mold And Water Damage
Because Tampa Bay homes have some risk of flooding, it’s essential to look for evidence of past water damage. Hiring a licensed home inspector (even for a new construction home) will help ensure the following signs of water damage aren’t missed.
If a home inspection reveals black spots on walls, ceilings, grout, cabinetry, or trim, that can indicate the presence of mold or mildew.
Water stains on ceilings or walls may be evidence of faulty plumbing and shoddy repairs. Stains near the floor or lower walls could be from past flooding.
Even if you don’t see visible signs of water damage, it may still exist. Musty smells are a clue there may be hidden water damage behind the walls or in the attic.
Get Expert Help Buying A Tampa Home
There’s a lot to keep in mind when buying a new home, but a professional real estate agent can make it easier.
Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me today for expert help with buying a home in Tampa. I am a local who knows all the ins and outs of the Tampa area, and I would love to be your personal resource in finding a home here!