Real Estate Agent  Did you know?

A home warranty helps protect a new homeowner against unexpected bills for covered repairs or replacements of major systems and appliances that break down after purchasing a home.

That means if you buy a house and the central air conditioning breaks, a home warranty will pay for the cost of repairing or replacing the system.

Do you really want to own a home? That question seems silly, because we all think we want to own a home. But the decision to buy a home is not one to be made lightly. Owning a home can be either an asset or a liability. The best way to start the home-buying process is to answer this question, and take a realistic look at what owning a home really means.

Possible drawbacks to homeownership

High cost of homeownership
Buying a house can put a considerable strain on your finances. Typically, you can expect to pay more for housing during the first several years as a homebuyer than you did as a renter. Even if your mortgage payments are less than you paid previously per month in rent, you must also pay property taxes, homeowners insurance, utilities and upkeep expenses.

Repairs and maintenance
Some people shy away from buying house because they don't want the responsibility of maintaining a home — the unending mowing of the lawn, the leaking roof, and when the air conditioning breaks there is no landlord to call to come fix it. As a renter, you may have grown used to free plumbing, and having handy-man services. As a homeowner, you will pay these costs out-of-pocket, or do the repairs yourself. Some people prefer to live in a condominium, where many of these responsibilities are taken up by the condominium association, giving you the equity advantages of homeownership without the accompanying repair and maintenance hassles. The downside of condominium ownership, however, is that condo fees can suddenly go up, and cost you thousands of dollars.

Decreased mobility
A renter has the flexibility, when he or she gets tired of the neighbors or wants to reduce the monthly bills, to just write the landlord a little note and pack up the moving van and go. A homeowner cannot move after simply giving a note to somebody. You have to sell the home, and selling your home can be a daunting enterprise if you're in a hurry. Typically, it take 8 weeks just to find a buyer, and another month to actually close the deal — if the deal doesn't fall apart in that time. If you anticipate being transferred to a new job location within the next year or so, this might not be the best time for you to buy a house.

Possibility of foreclosure
Foreclosure is the sale of a mortgaged property by the lender after the borrower fails to make the monthly mortgage payments in a timely manner. This is known as defaulting on the mortgage. If you are typically a little late in paying your bills, or tend to miss a month here and there, the mortgage lender can come take your house away.

A mortgage payment represents a large financial obligation extended over a long period of time. This can be an intimidating factor if — situationally and financially — you don't know where you are going to be down the road. Banks can and do foreclose on people's homes of any income when they fail to keep up their monthly payments. This can result not only in the loss of your home, but also in the loss of your investment and your credit rating, making it harder for you to ever buy a home in the future.

Local. Experienced.

Advantages of Home Ownership Advantages of Home Ownership Owning your own home can be a first-rate investment for a number of reasons, and there are also some advantages specific to Florida, too.

Disadvantages of Home Ownership Disadvantages of Home Ownership Home-owning is not for everyone. Buyers should conduct an honest self-appraisal of their lifestyle before looking at homes for sale.

The Costs of Owning a Home The Costs of Owning a Home Your American Dream can come true with realistic goals, careful planning, and a clear understanding of the costs that will be involved.

Determining Your Price Range Determining Your Price Range How much home can you afford? There are more factors involved than just comparing your paychecks to your expenses.

Prequalifying for a Home Mortgage Prequalifying for a Home Mortgage The first step in the home search is home financing. Getting pre-qualified for a mortgage loan is necessary in today's market.

More Home for Your Money More Home for Your Money There are creative ways to make your money work for you when buying a home, and a little research can go a long way.

Deciding What You Really Want Deciding What You Really Want There are some simple things to consider before you start calling Realtors, and your final choices may surprise you.

Finding <em>Who</em> Finds Your Home Finding Who Finds Your Home Working with one real estate agent who has your confidence is better than stringing along several who question whether you are serious.

What to Look For When Looking What to Look For When Looking Not all homes are created equal. There are ways to assess the quality of a home in the same way appraisers look at homes.

Shopping for a Home Loan Shopping for a Home Loan With so many lenders advertising mortgage rates in Florida, how do you know which ones are good, and which ones are teasers?

Comparing Loan Terms Comparing Loan Terms So how do you know which mortgage offer is the one for you? Hint: take a look at more than just the interest rate.

Applying for the Loan Applying for a Home Loan You have the information the bank wants, but do you know how to present it to them in a way that will get you approved for the mortgage?

Mortgage Loan Processing Mortgage Loan Processing What is happening behind the scenes after you submit your application? A lot. Here's an inside look from the lender's perspective.

If Your Application is Rejected If Your Application is Rejected Getting turned down is not the end of the world, and it doesn't mean you have to give up looking. It just means you need a little help.

Negotiating the Purchase Price Negotiating the Purchase Price How do you negotiate the purchase price when you do find the right house? Hint: it's really more than about the price.

Contingencies in the Offer Contingencies in the Offer You've made the offer on a home, and now it feels like a tug-of-war. How do you move forward, and how do you get out of a bad deal?

Preparing for the Closing Preparing for the Closing What comes next, who does it, and how do you know it's being done in time? Preventing surprises at closing, and protecting your interests.

As Closing Day Approaches As Closing Day Approaches In the final weeks before your closing, there will be the title search, the survey of the property, and your final walk-though inspection.

The Day of Closing The Day of Closing The day of closing is finally here. So what you can expect? Here is an explanation of the documents and the closing costs you may encounter.