How to Buy a House in Florida

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Contributor, Benzinga
June 19, 2020

Think that buying a home and finding a mortgage loan is a long, complicated process? Think again! 

Our guide to finding the best mortgage in Florida will help you buy with confidence. 

Step 1: Consider Current Florida Mortgage Rates

Unless you plan to buy your home in cash, you’ll need to get a mortgage loan preapproval before you can begin shopping. Mortgage loan payments include 2 parts: principal repayments (which go toward paying back the money you borrow) and interest. 

Average interest rates for mortgage loans can vary depending on where you’re buying, the type of loan you choose and your current housing supply. Interest rates change on a daily basis and are influenced by factors like the current state of the bond market and demand for housing in your city.

Below, you’ll find a few examples of what you might expect to pay for your mortgage loan in Florida today. We update this table regularly to reflect the most accurate rate data available. 

Loan TypeRateAPR
30-year fixed 6.591% 6.643%
15-year fixed 5.963% 6.175%
7/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
5/1 ARM (adjustable rate) N/A N/A
Rates based on an average home price of $225,000 and a down payment of 20%.
See more mortgage rates on Zillow

Step 2: Pick a Mortgage Lender in Florida

There are multiple types of mortgage loans and some lenders only offer certain types of loans. If you aren’t sure where to begin, consider our top picks below. 

Quicken Loans
Best For
  • Online Service

1. Best Overall: Quicken Loans®

Quicken Loans is one of the largest mortgage lenders in the United States. It offers nearly every type of mortgage loan out there. Quicken Loans offers a convenient, easy preapproval application that you can complete entirely online. You can complete your application directly from your smartphone, which makes Quicken Loans an especially popular lender for first-time buyers. You’ll usually receive a loan decision as soon as you apply.

If you aren’t sure which type of mortgage loan you should get or you don’t know the difference between the many loan types, make a visit to Quicken Loans’ online platform Rocket Mortgage®. Rocket Mortgage® contains an endless list of resources, calculators and articles to teach you everything about your loan before you apply. 

Veterans United
securely through Veterans United's website

2. Best for Veterans: Veterans United

A VA loan is a special type of mortgage loan reserved for men and women who have served in the United States armed forces. Veterans United is the country’s top-rated VA loan provider and has been consistently rated the No. 1 VA lender for the past 4 consecutive years.

Veterans United employs a full team of former service members to assist you in getting your Certificate of Eligibility (COE) to qualify for a VA loan. If you don’t qualify, Veterans United’s team can also assist you with a conventional loan.   

CrossCountry Mortgage
Best For
  • Self-employed Borrowers
securely through CrossCountry Mortgage's website

3. Best for Self-Employed Buyers: Luxury Mortgage

Self-employed professionals often have a more difficult time finding a mortgage loan that works with their budget. Lenders need to know that the income you report right now is likely to continue for the length of your loan term. This can be difficult if you don’t have a W-2 to prove your income.

If you run your own business or work as an independent contractor, consider the Asset Qualifier loan from Luxury Mortgage. Luxury Mortgage’s Asset Qualifier loan offers more flexible lending criteria. You can use business assets to qualify and there is no income or employment documentation required. 

Step 3: Find a House

After you apply for your mortgage loan, you’ll receive a preapproval letter if the lender thinks you’re a good candidate. You can now begin shopping for a home.

Your preapproval letter will tell you how much money you can borrow. From here, you should create a list of “wants” and “needs” for your future home. Some characteristics you might want to consider include:

  • Neighborhoods: Are there any neighborhoods you don’t want to live in? How much are you willing to pay in property taxes per year? Are you concerned about school district quality?
  • Size: What is the ideal number of bedrooms and bathrooms for your home? Are you looking to upgrade from a smaller space? Or are you ready to downgrade and simplify your living situation?
  • Lot size: Do you need a large backyard to be happy? Or are you looking for a low-maintenance property?
  • Commute: How far are you willing to drive to work every day? Are you moving to be closer to a new job opportunity? If you don’t drive, how close will you need to be to public transportation?
  • Other amenities: Do you already own major appliances (like a washer and dryer set) or do you expect them to come with your home? Are you willing to pay more for a pool, privacy fence or other special amenity?

Many buyers choose to hire a real estate agent at this point to help them narrow down their home search. A good real estate agent will help you keep your “wants” list realistic. They can even introduce you to properties that aren’t publicly available on online real estate databases. 

Step 4: Make an Offer

Once you’ve found the right home, you’ll submit an offer letter to the seller. An offer letter is an official commitment that tells the seller you’re serious about buying the home. It’s better to enlist a real estate agent or realtor to write and submit it for you. An agent can help you decide how much money to offer and determine reasonable concessions. An agent can also ensure the document is legally binding.

If the seller accepts your offer, congratulations! You can move onto closing. In many cases, the seller will send back a counteroffer with a new price or a set of adjusted terms instead. If you receive a counteroffer from your seller, work with your agent to decide if you want to continue negotiating or move onto another property.

The seller may also flat-out reject your offer. If this happens, don’t panic. You can always submit another offer if you really love the home and you’re willing to change your terms. 

Step 5: Closing Time

After you and the home’s seller reach an agreement in terms of the property sale, it’s time to close on your mortgage loan. Most mortgage companies have closing processes with 3 steps:

  • Appraisal: During an appraisal, a property value expert will visit your home and write a letter with an official estimate of how much the home is worth. Mortgage lenders require appraisals because they can’t loan you more money than the home is worth. If your appraisal value comes back lower than the price you offered for the home, you may need to bring more money to closing to cover the difference.
  • Inspection: An inspection tells you more about the condition of your home systems and major appliances. An inspector will visit your home and test things like outlets, heating systems and plumbing. You’ll receive a report that details everything that needs repaired or replaced. Inspections aren’t usually required for most mortgage loans, but they give you a snapshot of the home’s condition.
  • Underwriting: During underwriting, your mortgage lender goes through your financial information with a fine-tooth comb to make sure you qualify for your loan. Your lender will check your credit, examine your assets and ensure you aren’t using a loan for your down payment. 

In most cases, all 3 closing steps will take about 30 days. Your specific closing process will vary depending on your lender. Some lenders specialize in quick closings and other lenders take up to 90 days.

After you complete the closing process, the only thing left to do is attend the closing meeting. During your closing meeting, you’ll sign on your loan, pay your down payment and closing costs and receive the keys to your new home. 

Move-in Day in Florida

Buying a home can be incredibly exciting. But before you jump into the mortgage process, be sure that you understand the different types of loans available to you. 

From government-backed FHA loans with lower credit requirements to million-dollar jumbo loans, you have a variety of loans to choose from. Research your options to find the best mortgage loan for you. 

Get Ready for Take Off

Rocket Mortgage® is an online mortgage experience developed by the firm formerly known as Quicken Loans®, America’s largest mortgage lender. Rocket Mortgage® makes it easy to get a mortgage — you just tell the company about yourself, your home, your finances and Rocket Mortgage® gives you real interest rates and numbers. You can use Rocket Mortgage® to get approved, ask questions about your mortgage, manage your payments and more.

You can work at your own pace and someone is always there to answer your questions — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Want a fast, convenient way to get a mortgage? Give Rocket Mortgage® a try.

About Sarah Horvath

Sarah is an expert in the insurance, investing for retirement and cryptocurrency space.