The Highland Group
Whether you’re a first-time homebuyer or a seasoned pro, choosing the right real estate agency has great bearing on the success and quality of your experience.
If you're ready to put down roots in the Orlando area, you've come to the right place. We have good reason to believe that we're among the best REALTORS in Orlando, and you couldn’t be in better hands.
We acknowledge that the home buying process can be trying, especially the first time around. That’s why we’re here. You can count on our professional expertise from the start of your search to closing day. We don't like to think of the process as stressful. We like to think of it as exhilarating.
Our Real Estate Agents Work With Buyers from Start to Finish
Below, we've provided a thorough guide to moving forward in your search and clearing hurdles along the way.
Get a Head Start
If you have the luxury of planning a home purchase in advance, use the time to get your finances in order. You can request a free credit report every 12 months from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion. Compare them to find discrepancies. Check them carefully for errors, and see that mistakes are corrected.
Pay off as much debt as you can, and pay all your bills on time. Avoid incurring additional debt, such as a car loan, while you’re in the process of buying a house. Lenders like to see a healthy debt-to-income ratio of no more than 36 to 43 percent.
Organize Your Records
From now until you move into your home, you’ll be shuffling paperwork. It’s a good idea to start a folder for records that lenders will ask for. Trust us. During the weeks leading up to closing, you’ll be glad that you kept these records organized and updated. Here are some examples of items to keep handy:
- Your most recent pay stubs
- Bank, credit card and loan statements
- W-2s, business tax returns and personal tax returns for the last two to three years
- Brokerage account statements for the last several months
- A list of your previous addresses for the past seven years
- Recent 401(k) or other retirement account statements
Determine How Much You Can Spend
You can hardly start researching neighborhoods and visiting open houses until you have a realistic idea of what you can afford.
When determining your price range, try to stay within three to five times your annual income. Conventional mortgages require a down payment of 20 percent. There are other programs available that require anywhere from 3% to 10% down payment.
In addition to settling on a mortgage payment that you can live with, factor in homeowners’ insurance, property taxes, utility bills, maintenance and homeowners’ association dues.
Any online home-affordability calculator will help you get a rough idea of your price range.
Get Prequalified and Preapproved for a Loan
Most sellers won’t even entertain an offer unless you’ve already met with a lender or mortgage broker to start the process of obtaining a loan.
This is the time to start working closely with your Orlando real estate agent. Our agents are very familiar with first-time buyer programs and can steer you toward the right resources. The Federal Housing Authority loan program, for example, requires down payments as low as 3 to 5 percent.
The first step is prequalification. The sooner we know how much funding you qualify for, the faster we can get to work finding the perfect home.
Take your financial documents to a bank, credit union or mortgage broker. Mortgage terms vary widely, so shop around.
The loan originator will review your assets, income, debts and credit history. Your ability to make a down payment and afford homebuying expenses, such as the title search, home inspection and closing costs, will also be considered. These factors determine your borrowing capability.
Pre-approval goes one step further. You’ll apply for a mortgage, and the lender will determine how much he’s willing to loan. He’ll give you a letter stating that to the best of his current knowledge, funding for that amount is likely to be approved.
Start Your Search
The next leg of the journey is significantly more fun. Now that you know how much you can spend, you’re ready to think about what kind of home and neighborhood you’d be happiest in.
Here are some considerations:
- Size, number of rooms and layout
- Condition and potential cost for repairs or updates
- Age, upkeep and safety of the neighborhood
- Suitability for small children or pets
- School district
- Distance from work
- Specific features such as a pool, a state-of-the-art kitchen or wood floors
- Yard size and landscaping
- Proximity to shopping, parks, restaurants or recreational areas
- Suitability for walking or cycling
Tell Us What You’re Looking For
First, make a list of needs. Needs might include good schools, four bathrooms or a two-car garage. Next, make a wish list. There’s nothing wrong with hoping that we find a built-in pizza oven and his-and-her closets all in one house.
Finally, decide what you can and cannot live without. If you’re buying a home with your spouse, this might call for compromise on both sides.
View Homes and Attend Open Houses
We’ll take care of the arrangements. All you have to do is show up. An agent will give you plenty of time to look around and take notes.
See beyond hideous paint colors and ghastly wallpaper. Cosmetic changes are easily made. If you’re seriously interested in a house, consider more significant details like those below:
- Assess the age and condition of the roof. This could factor into the cost of your insurance.
- Test the electrical system by flipping light switches.
- Run the faucets and showers to test the water pressure. See how long it takes for the water to get hot.
- Make sure that there’s sufficient heating and air conditioning.
- Test the kitchen appliances.
- Make sure that doors and windows open and close properly. Stand at each window to see if you’re comfortable with the level of privacy.
- Evaluate the storage space.
Move In or Move On
Our real estate agents are invaluable when the time comes to make an offer. They do a free comparative market analysis to find out how long other houses in the neighborhood were on the market. The analysis also reveals final selling prices. Our REALTORS are experts at calculating offers that aren't too high or too low. You can trust them to negotiate with your best interests at heart.
Offers are typically contingent on a thorough home inspection performed by an independent professional. Home inspectors look for foundation problems, faulty wiring, damage caused by wood-boring insects and other hidden flaws that might persuade you to keep looking. Your agent can help you decide if repairs should be stipulated in a contract. Counteroffers are common, and figures might fly back and forth for a few days.
If all goes well, an agreement will be reached and closing will begin. Your loan application must be approved, title issues must be resolved and appraisal disparities must be sorted out. Your lender will probably require you to secure homeowners’ insurance before final approval of your mortgage. You may not be able to close the house until you have it, and that could cause delays.
The closing process usually takes four to six weeks, so be patient. In a few months when you’re enjoying your new place, you’ll forget all about the stress of closing.
Call Our Real Estate Agency in Orlando FL About Investment Homes
Investment properties are ideal vehicles for boosting your income. If you like the idea of being a landlord, you can collect rent for years to come. If you find a promising fixer-upper and can do a lot of the renovation work yourself, you stand to make a sizable profit in a short amount of time. Many homes that need only minor repairs are surprisingly affordable.
Let us show you houses that have great potential for generating short- or long-term income. We work with investors in our area and worldwide.
Professional and Friendly Buyer's Agents
Don’t make it hard on yourself. Let us do the heavy lifting.
Not only do we have extensive knowledge of the entire Orlando area, but we have professional access to information on individual neighborhoods and market trends. Our agents are proud of the qualities that set them apart:
- Experience with the purchase process
- Good communication and negotiation skills
Not every Orlando real estate agent can say the same.
Call us today to speak with a first-rate REALTOR. You may also submit your contact information online.
Our time and effort are provided at no cost to you. We’re committed to finding a home that you’ll be happy in for years to come, and we won’t stop looking until we find it.
More To Love About Orlando
Orlando, once known as the Theme Park Capital of the World, has succeeded in re-inventing itself. The theme parks are still here with more mind-boggling attractions and tourism remains a huge part of our economic base. Recently, Orlando ranked 6th in Zip Recruiters list of top cities for tech jobs nationwide. Another proof that Orlando adds to Orlando’s cool cred is its ranking as number one in Wallet Hub’s best cities for gamers.
Our team of REALTORS believe Orlando is one of the best places on earth to live, work and play. Maybe that’s just us, and it is only our opinion, but as some of the best REALTORS in Orlando, we hope you will believe us too and live out your dream in this beautiful city.