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First-Time Sarasota Homebuyer Advice

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It’s an ideal time to join those buying the upscale condos and luxury homes for sale in Sarasota.


Interest rates still hover near all-time historic lows. All the economic indicators, both nationally and locally, are positive. With 35 miles of Gulf beaches, year-round comfortable weather, boating, golf, museums, 5-star restaurants, and scores of fabulous luxury homes for sale, Sarasota is emerging as a world-class center for recreation, commerce, and culture. If you’re buying in Sarasota for the first time, these tips may help.

Sarasota Home

Decide what you can feasibly afford, then establish what your monthly costs will total after buying a home. Include taxes and insurance. Fannie Mae tells buyers to spend a maximum of 28% of their income on housing; 30% is too much.

Home maintenance can be pricey, so don’t ignore the bigger picture. Unforeseen plumbing or roof repairs, concealed appliance costs, and other unanticipated hassles can exhaust a budget in a hurry.

Find an Exclusive Buyer Agent (EBA) who knows Sarasota well. EBAs focus wholly on finding the property that's right for you. EBAs can exclusively represent you because they avoid conflicts of interest that other agents face. Be sure to find an EBA with the right certifications and designations to meet your needs and demands. For instance, a CLHMS (Certified Luxury Home Marketing Specialist) designation points to expertise as well as specialized knowledge of the luxury housing market. Designations represent commitment to clients, colleagues, and community.            

Compare the sales prices of homes in communities you like. The Internet can give you a general idea, but an EBA can help you compare prices more precisely. Learn what the closing costs will be. Again, your EBA can help. Closing costs may include fees imposed by a lender, taxes, title and settlement fees, and homeowners insurance or HOA fees. Record and back-up everything. Today's high-end market is subject to more scrutiny than ever before. Comprehensive financial records are imperative in 2013.

Sarasota is the setting for dozens of delightful and comfortable residential communities. When you’ve made the decision to buy in Sarasota and you’ve selected an EBA, you’ll probably very quickly narrow your search to 2 or 3 communities.

You'll want to know if those communities are safe. Ask the police department, county sheriff, or local newspaper for neighborhood crime stats. Also be sure the neighborhood is economically viable. Are there vacant storefronts or homes that have been on the market for months? Your EBA can help you determine if income and property values in a particular neighborhood are on the rise or decline.

Sarasota is the home of superlative schools, award-winning hospitals, and acclaimed, innovative health-care specialists. Even if you have no children, a home in a good school district is a plus when it’s time to resell. If you do have children, visit the schools they potentially may attend. And before coming to any final decision, find out if any developments are planned or other any other changes projected in the community, like a new school, shopping mall, or highway that would impact your property value. 

Lastly, visit the neighborhoods for yourself. Once you’ve narrowed your focus to 2 or 3, spend half-a-day. Are the lawns neat, the streets quiet, the traffic slow? If possible, chat with people who are outdoors in the neighborhood.

Many potential buyers who've been undecided throughout 2012 are now buying, especially in Sarasota. If you’re about to buy your first Sarasota home, congratulations! In the years to come, you'll congratulate yourself for getting a great interest rate and a smart deal on the home of your dreams in a delightful Sarasota community.

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