Countryway – Market Snapshot for Past 90 Days (Updated Automatically every 15 mins.)


Welcome to the Countryway Market Snapshot page!   

Below is a direct link from the MLS for Countryway sales data for the past 90 days..  The data is automatically updated every 15 minutes, so visit any time for updated information.

Link to Report: Countryway Seller Market Snapshot – Past 90 Days

We love providing data to homeowners!  If you would like similar information for any other neighborhood or for homes more comparable to your specific home, please send us your request via our Contact Us Page and we will send it to you by the next business day.  Please keep in mind that the more specific your request, the more meaningful the data will be to you.  👍🏻

Thank you for visiting and have a great day!  


Kitchell Group Staff


The Kitchell Group is an award-winning team with almost 400 homes and $115M in volume sold.  We are a cohesive group of financially savvy, technologically strong Realtors and we use this knowledge to provide great advantage to our clients.  We cover 6 counties in Tampa Bay, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Hernando and Polk.  We specialize in Florida new construction, Florida pool homes, Florida 55+ communities, Florida custom homes, Florida bungalows, Florida townhomes, Florida beachfront condos, Florida waterfront homes and more!  Because of our large number of transactions closed with homebuyers and home sellers, we have a vast amount of real estate knowledge to share with our clients to help them have one of the safest, lowest stress and financially educated experience around.  And we are nice and fun to boot.  We LOVE our clients and they often become family to us!  Let us welcome you into our family.  🙂


To Start Your Award-Winning Experience Contact Us Today at 813-693-1003


East Lake Woodlands – Market Snapshot for Past 90 Days (Updated Automatically every 15 mins.)


Welcome to the East Lake Woodlands Market Snapshot page for SFHs & Villas.   

Below is a direct link from the MLS for East Lake Woodlands sales data for the past 90 days for Single Family Homes and Villas..  The data is automatically updated every 15 minutes, so visit any time for updated information.

Link to Report (or click image above):  East Lake Woodlands Seller Market Snapshot (SFHs/Villas) – Past 90 Days    

If you would like similar information for any other neighborhood, please send us your request via our Contact Us Page and we will send it to you by the next business day.  Please keep in mind that the more specific your request, the more meaningful the data will be to you.

Thank you for visiting and have a great day!  


Kitchell Group Staff


The Kitchell Group is an award-winning team with almost 400 homes and $115M in volume sold.  We are a cohesive group of financially savvy, technologically strong Realtors and we use this knowledge to provide great advantage to our clients.  We cover 6 counties in Tampa Bay, including Hillsborough, Pinellas, Pasco, Manatee, Sarasota, Hernando and Polk.  We specialize in Florida new construction, Florida pool homes, Florida 55+ communities, Florida custom homes, Florida bungalows, Florida townhomes, Florida beachfront condos, Florida waterfront homes and more!  Because of our large number of transactions closed with homebuyers and home sellers, we have a vast amount of real estate knowledge to share with our clients to help them have one of the safest, lowest stress and financially educated experience around.  And we are nice and fun to boot.  We LOVE our clients and they often become family to us!  Let us welcome you into our family.  🙂


To Start Your Award-Winning Experience Contact Us Today at 813-693-1003

Top 10 Trends in 2021- What Florida Homebuyers Want

Greetings, Real Estate Fans (We love real estate, too!)!
See the infographic below, published by Florida Association of Realtors.  We are seeing many of these trends in our transactions – and have been for the past 6 months.  And – below are some of the top trends our team is seeing in Tampa Bay.  With our marketing-savvy team, we have hit many home runs by focusing on matching the best features of our clients’ homes to the current trends of Florida homebuyers.

Kitchell Group Top Trends

  • Pools – We are seeing increased premiums being paid for pools, with a differential of $30,000-50,000 being paid for homes with pools vs. homes without pools, up from $15,000 – $25,000 (depending on the quality of the pool).
  • Large Backyards – Preferably fully-fenced for personal privacy, pets and children.
  • Home Offices – If you have a home office in your home – or a space to easily/inexpensively convert to a home office (like an underutilized living room), you have an advantage.
  • Bonus Rooms – A place for kids (and adults!) to escape to for a movie, recreation or quiet time.
  • Proximity to Nature/Outdoor Activities – Places to escape today’s stresses for exercise, downtime and to make memories with friends and family.   
  • Newer Roofs –  Roof age dramatically impacts insurance premiums.  Insurance has increased 25-30% in the past year for homes with roofs older than 10 years.  We have worked around this for many seller clients with old roofs, but it’s getting tougher.  Also, scheduling contractors has become a real chore.  And costs have increased, as have completion times.
  • Updated Kitchens – People are cooking at home so much more.  And with limited contractor availability, increased material costs (and a stressed supply chain), upgrading kitchens is a daunting task right now.

The above list is everchanging, so feel free to reach out to us for the latest trends and ideas on how you can best market your home for the highest price.  We’re not just setting records prices in this tight market.  We’ve been doing it for many years now. 

Until next time, be healthy, make great memories, laugh often and spread kindness.

– Stacy Kitchell, Managing Broker


Courtesy of the Florida Association of Realtors ®

Should I Sell and Buy Now with These Low Interest Rates?

Isn’t the article below what many of us have been thinking?  I’ve been debating this with our clients for months now.   Are we at the top of the market?  Or will prices continue to rise and I will end up paying more for my new home if I buy 6 months from now and where will interest rates be at that point?  Aahhh… if only I had a crystal ball.


With COVID still in around, lifestyle needs/wants rapidly changing and Florida real estate becoming a hot commodity in recent months due to demand for outdoor space and lower income and real estate taxes, it’s truly hard for we Floridians to predict.  We are in unchartered waters.    


We closed 40% of our business in 2020 in the 4th quarter of last year (Oct-Dec).  And – the market is still moving, even in January (usually a quiet month).  We continue to put buyer clients under contract and we have several new listings activating, with new calls every week.  We just picked up a client from Alaska and have and are representing many buyer clients from New York,  Massachusetts, New Jersey, Michigan, Indiana.  We’ve had inquiries on our listings from many other states, including California.  My team and I continue to look for clues in our current deals and those of our fellow Realtors.  And – I am reading and listening to economic news on a daily basis.  

Read the article below, published in December.  Chances are, you, like many of our clients, have been thinking the same thoughts.

– Stacy Kitchell, Managing Broker

Courtesy of the Florida Association of Realtors ®

Realtor reviewing paperwork with a client outside a home

Joe Raedle / Getty Images


2021 Florida Real Estate Forecast


The following is a terrific article on the latest predictions for major Florida real estate markets.  Our team has experienced, first-hand, the incredible growth in activity – even is the past quarter.


  • Not only did we close $5M in sales in the 4th quarter (typically a slower period), many of our buyer clients are originating from the Northeast U.S., Midwest and Great Plains.  We are also receiving offers on our listings from out-of-state buyers (mainly (Northeast/Midwest/some Southwest).  
  • COVID, high state income taxes/real estate taxes in other states – plus workers’ abilities to telecommute (possibly permanently in some cases) – is causing people to rethink where they want to live.   
  • Buyers are growing their home footprints to accommodate the additional space needed for both home office(s) and bonus spaces for families. 
  • Amenities are also a driving force.  Homes with private conservation views, pools, and acreage are in high demand and community outdoor amenities such as dog parks, walking paths and proximity to parks, water, boating and kayaking are especially attractive. 
  • Baby Boomers are moving down at a rapid pace and both smaller-to-medium sized single family homes and 55+ communities with low-maintenance villas are primary targets for them. 
  • Florida real estate checks a lot of these boxes and with our great weather, beaches/water and no state income taxes, all lenders, Realtors and appraisers we have talked with over the past 3 months are feeling the increase in demand.   
  • I believe that the above factors are a significant force behind the projected numbers below.

Read on for more on the anticipated growth of Florida real estate in 2021…

– Stacy Kitchell, Managing Broker


Courtesy of the Florida Association of Realtors ®

DECEMBER 2, 2020


‘Tis the Season for Predictions: Is First

Economists predict a 5.7% U.S. price increase and 7% growth in sales, but a closer look at 9 Fla. metros finds varying predictions. They range from a projected 1.5% sales growth (4.3% price) in Cape Coral-Fort Myers to 11.6% sales growth (4.7% price) along the Space Coast.

ORLANDO, Fla. – What will the real estate market look like in 2021? In December, national economists start rolling out their predictions, with the first,, publishing their expectations first.

Amid COVID-19 uncertainty, 2021 will be a robust sellers’ market for U.S. buyers as home prices hit new highs (+5.7%) and buyer competition remains strong, according to the’s 2021 housing forecast.

Their economist expects inventory to make a slow yet steady comeback, providing buyers with some relief. However, increasing interest rates and prices will make affordability a challenge throughout the year.

“The 2021 housing market will be much more ‘normal’ than the wild swings we saw in 2020,” says Chief Economist, Danielle Hale. “Buyers may finally have a better selection of homes to choose from later in the year but will face a renewed challenge of affordability as prices stay high and mortgage rates rise. With less cash and no home equity, millennial and Gen Z first-time buyers will be impacted the most by rising home prices and interest rates. While waiting until the fall or winter months of 2021 may mean more home options to choose from, buyers who can find a home to buy earlier in the year will likely see lower prices and mortgage rates.”

Many of’s predictions, however, assume the COVID-19 pandemic will be under control within the first half of the year.’s 2021 housing market forecast

  • Mortgage Rates – Up to 3.4% by year end
  • Existing Home Median Price Appreciation – +5.7%
  • Existing Home Sales – +7.0%
  • Single-Family Home Housing Starts – Up 9%
  • Homeownership Rate – 65.9% also provides a breakdown of predictions by metro area, and it varies for the nine Florida metro areas included – from a projected 1.5% sales growth (4.3% price growth) in Cape Coral-Fort Myers to 11.6% sales growth (4.7% price growth) in the Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville metro area.

2021 predictions for Florida markets

  • Cape Coral-Fort Myers: 1.5% growth in sales, 4.3% increase in prices
  • Deltona-Daytona Beach-Ormond Beach: 5.4% growth in sales, 6.3% increase in prices
  • Jacksonville: 9.4% growth in sales, 5.0% increase in prices
  • Lakeland-Winter Haven: 5.1% growth in sales, 4.9% increase in prices
  • Miami-Fort Lauderdale-West Palm Beach: 3.7% growth in sales, 7.1% increase in prices
  • North Port-Sarasota-Bradenton: 10.3% growth in sales, 6.6% increase in prices
  • Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford: 10.1% growth in sales, 5.8% increase in prices
  • Palm Bay-Melbourne-Titusville: 11.6% growth in sales, 4.7% increase in prices
  • Tampa-St. Petersburg-Clearwater: 8.7% growth in sales, 7.5% increase in prices

What 2021 will be like for buyers?

Buyers will find some relief in 2021 as more homes hit the market, but many will struggle with affordability as home prices continue to rise. Mortgage rates will slowly rise toward 3.4% and no longer offset prices as much. The time it takes to sell a home will slow from the late 2020’s frenzy, the economists predict, but fast sales will remain in many parts of the country. It will also be more challenging than 2020 for first-time homebuyers.

What will 2021 be like for sellers?

Sellers will still hold the upper hand throughout 2021. Home prices won’t grow as fast as they did in 2020, but steady increases will continue to push them to new highs. Sellers who list can expect their home to sell relatively quickly in 2021. Many sellers who are also buyers should have their next home lined up before listing.

Forecast 2021 housing trends

  • Millennials will continue to drive the market while Gen-Z become market players. Older millennials will likely be trade-up buyers while the larger, younger segment of the generation age into their key home buying years. The oldest members of Gen-Z will turn 24 in 2021 and their impact on the market will only continue to grow from here.
  • Affordability will become a growing obstacle. Buyers in 2020 received a huge boost when mortgage rates pushed to new lows, but a lack of inventory and strong demand drove prices up, erasing most of that boost. Buyers will need to act with a sense of urgency if they want to lock in a low rate before home prices increase even more in 2021.
  • Inventory will begin the slow road toward recovery. A lack of for-sale homes has plagued the U.S. housing market for the last five years. The problem intensified in 2020, in large part due to an estimated shortfall of nearly 4 million newly constructed homes heading into the year, as well as sellers pulling back due to COVID-19. The number of homes for sale is expected to slowly rebound in 2021, but the road to recovery will be long because the market has to make up for multiple years of declines. While additional homes will hit the market in 2021, it won’t be enough to tip the scales in favor of buyers.
  • Suburbs will shine if remote work stays around. As COVID-19 lockdowns gripped many of the nation’s largest cities, it sparked intense buyer interest in suburban homes, further exaggerating a trend that had been slowly emerging over the last couple of years. The big question is what demand will look like once a coronavirus vaccine is widely available. If companies require workers to return to the office, demand may wane. Conversely, if companies commit long-term to remote work, demand for these homes could see an additional boost in 2021.

Wildcards that could shake things up in 2021

  • COVID-19: The deck is stacked with wildcards for 2021. The most impactful will be the U.S.’s ability to control and contain the spread of COVID-19 as well as distribute a vaccine. Additional lockdowns and quarantines could put a dent in housing inventory and sales, slowing the market and putting increased pressure on buyers. Conversely, if a vaccine is rolled out quickly, it could lead to better than expected sales and a strong increase for home prices and inventory.
  • Double dip recession: The possibility of a double dip recession is still in play for 2021. As the U.S. continues in a K-shape recovery, a gap is widening between those with and without jobs, as well as industries recovering well versus those seeing a continued lack of business. In the short term, this could lead to less consumer spending. In the long term, this could impact the U.S. housing market as “would-be” buyers disappear from the market, cooling demand and driving down home prices. The current question is how long the K-shape can diverge before the impact begins to cascade into the broader economy and other previously less-affected sectors such as housing.

© 2020 Florida Realtors®


Fla. Had a Listing Shortage Pre-COVID – and It Still Does

Fla. Had a Listing Shortage Pre-COVID – and It Still Does

In 2008, Fla. had too many new homes; but in early 2020, there were too few. Even if buyer demand falls slightly, a still-low supply will likely push home prices higher.

NEW YORK – Housing prices aren’t expected to drop significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, in part because Florida is facing a statewide housing shortage.

Florida Realtors says that builders have been cautious since the last recession. Florida Realtors chief economist Brad O’Connor says new home sales are down 30% to 40% statewide, but he says there’s a key difference between the housing market of today and the one 10 years ago.

“When we went into the great recession, builders. … all across the United States had massively overbuilt homes,” O’Connor says. However, builders learned their lesson a little too well, and now the state now has a shortage of housing.

“So let’s say the demand for housing falls, houses will still be scarce … So the prices won’t fall as much as they did last time when there were so many houses to choose from,” O’Connor explains. “We haven’t seen a bunch of people leaving their houses on the market and selling for a lower price. What they’re doing is pulling their houses off the market for a couple of months and waiting for all this craziness to go away, and then they will try to put their homes back on the market and sell for a similar value to what they have it posted for now.”

In Tallahassee, local real estate agent Hettie Spooner says there’s not enough housing under $300,000. She has seen people pull their houses off the market during the COVID-19 pandemic, but she believes it’s a temporary trend, noting that Tallahassee has a steady draw from its government offices and universities.

O’Connor agrees that the COVID-19 pandemic will have an impact on the housing market across the state – but that it will pass eventually.

Source: WUSF News (05/02/20) Gaffney, Robbie

© Copyright 2020 INFORMATION INC., Bethesda, MD (301) 215-4688

Seller Resources

Selling Your Home
(…and Possibly Buying Another One, Too!)
Selling your home and moving can be a real challenge.  We want to help make your experience as painless as possible by taking most of the burden off of you.  We are an award-winning real estate team and we provide our clients with exceptional service and a clear advantage in the selling of their homes because of our strong real estate background, education, and experience.  We invite you to meet our team and to read our testimonials.

What makes us different?  Below are just a few things we think set us apart from other Realtors:

  • Higher Sales Prices Than Most Other RealtorsOver the past 5 years, our team has averaged 3-10% higher prices than the average Realtors in all the neighborhoods in which we work.  The differential in price alone can pay for our fees!  We have many real life cases where we sold an owner’s home for $10,000-$20,000 more than the last sale price of a similar home in the same neighborhood. We list higher because we don’t want to leave our sellers’ money on the table
  • Experience – We have 25+ years of experience in real estate and in the past 5  years, we have sold over $50M+ in sales.  In 2015 and 2016, approx. 50% of our business is from home purchases and 50% is from listings/home sales. So, we are well-versed in what both buyers and sellers are doing and thinking.
  • Transitioning from Selling Your Home to Buying a New Home – Timing is EVERYTHING.  We understand that many sellers have a concern about the timing of selling their home and finding and moving to a new home.  We have done this many times and it is one of the things we do really well for our clients.  We negotiate certain requirements into our contracts for sellers to provide flexibility in their move dates, but that still allows them the freedom to buy and move when they want to do so.  Our selling clients love this!  We will share some ideas with you at your listing appt.
  • We Contest Appraisals for Our Selling Clients… and Win!We have contested appraisals for our seller clients and won!  This is necessary when a buyer agrees to a certain sales price and the property appraises below that sales price.  We have found that not all Realtors will take the time to gather the information to challenge an appraisal or, in many cases, they may not know how to present the correct information in a professional manner in order to win.  We go the extra mile, which has resulted in higher prices for our selling clients.  
  • Home Preparation – A key ingredient to your home sale!  We do our best to only recommend minor, inexpensive improvements for your home.  We are currently in a seller’s market in most areas of Tampa Bay, and inventory has been lower than average, so we see very little need for expensive upgrades, just meaningful ones.  We know what those are.  Our sellers are amazed at what just a few hundred dollars can do.  And we can usually estimate the approximate value of a particular upgrade, because we understand the appraisal side well.  
  • We Capture Great Photos of Your HomeOh the TERRIBLE photos we all see on the Internet!  We don’t want you to be a victim of this.  This is a HUGE pet peeve for us and photos are one of the top reasons buyers will or will not come to see your home.  The listings with the best photos get the most showings and the most showings produce the most (or multiple offers), resulting in the highest price possible for you.  We also spend HOURS editing your photos to infuse light, sharpen images, enhance color and crop photos at angles that make your rooms look as large and spacious as possible.  We use a PROFESSIONAL GRADE camera (not a camera phone or regular digital camera like most Realtors) and a $1,000+ wide angle lens which helps to make your home look more spacious, too.  Ask agents what they are using to take your photos.  We are happy to provide samples of our work.
  • We Generate More Showings – Our listings average 5-7 showings per week for the first 2-3 weeks and then are under contract within 2-4 weeks – even though we price our listings agressively high.  Again — great photos generate the maximum number of listings which increases your ability to find the PERFECT buyer who will pay the highest price for your home.  
  • Our Listing Descriptions are Key – We consider the listing description as important as preparation and photos.  Listing the key elements that make your home different – and more valuable – is essential.  We also strive to create an emotional experience when buyers read your description.  The goal is to draw the most buyers in to see your home.  
  • We have Unique, Custom Tools to Educate our Seller Clients on the Market – As a result of our strong IT knowledge, we provide a custom, report, hand-crafted for each individual client that no other Realtor provides, we call our “Seller’s Market Snapshot” report.  This report provides the most crucial information to determine value, pricing trends, days on market, etc., It contains active, pending and sold homes within the specific market or neighborhood, a map showing the location of each home, a grid listing each home and all critical details appraisers consider, and a live link to each home’s listing so that owners can view photos of the home to compare it to theirs.  We then explain why their home is different and how to maximize on those unique qualities.  Contact us for a complimentary market snapshot for your home. You will quickly see why this report is such a great resource to our seller clients. 
  • Financial Analysis – We spend a lot of time preparing professional financial analysis of your estimated net proceeds at closing prior to listing your home so that you can plan.  If you are purchasing after you sell your home, we present a sell-buy analysis for you so you can see the complete financial picture.  We are usually within 1-3% of our estimates, usually erring on the positive side for our clients so that there are no financial surprises.
  • Organization – We know being organized reduces stress for our clients.  To assist with this, we provide a Listing Process Checklist to our seller clients to show them the various phases of the sales process with detailed steps so that they can track our progress and, after the contract is secured, the buyer’s process (inspections, appraisal, etc.).  We find that it’s a stress-reliever for our clients to know what to expect and also what action items they will have during the process. 
  • We Have a Team – We have a team dedicated to our seller clients to help with all aspects of your home sale from marketing to managing offers and supporting closing activities.  We work as a team to assist you at any time!
  • Showing Analysis & Feedback – We provide regular updates on showings to assist our selling clients in understanding how buyers are perceiving their home so that any adjustments can be made as necessary to allow for the best showing experience and, ultimately, the best offer price.  We can provide you with actual showing reports so that you can see that we do what we say we are going to do.
  • We LOVE Working With Our Clients – Last but not least!  Our favorite thing – our clients!  🙂  We really do love getting to know each and every one of our clients and we love making business connections between clients when it makes sense, too.  Every one of our clients is unique and interesting to us and that is what makes this so fun!  We look forward to hopefully meeting you!

Please call us for a free consultation.  We want to help you receive the most money for your home and make your transition as easy as possible! 


  The Kitchell Group

Opting for New Home Construction

Whether to buy an existing home or have one built is yet another decision to make during the home-buying process. If you decide to go with new construction, a real estate agent can be a powerful advocate in your corner as you negotiate upgrades, a move-in date and other terms with the home builder.
Below are some basic pointers to prepare you for the journey ahead.

Selecting a builder
Shopping for a large production or custom home builder can be a daunting task. Start by defining what architectural styles appeal to you and then seek out the builders in your area who offer those styles. Due diligence is essential. Ask friends for referrals to get firsthand accounts; verify the builder’s state license status, if applicable; and check whether they’re certified by the National Association of Home Builders.

The builder representative and your real estate agent
A builder representative’s ultimate goal is to sell you a home. His or her role is to provide a wide range of information to help you in your decision-making, from building restrictions, roads and easements to inspections, warranties, rebates and upgrades. A real estate agent knowledgeable in new-home construction will be able to help you wade through all the data and point out the downsides and upsides of each line item. Your agent also can look out for your interests in reviewing the builder’s contract, which often contains more legal jargon than consumer-friendly language.

It’s all about timing
Market conditions greatly dictate a builder’s incentive to make a deal you cannot refuse. When a builder has inventory on his hands, his carrying costs start adding up. When this happens, a builder might be more amenable to strike a favorable deal, whether it’s throwing in upgrades or taking a bit off the asking price. A real estate agent can help you know when market conditions are right for these benefits. Also, watch for builder close-out sales. Builders promote these special events when a new subdivision is near completion but empty inventory still remains.

A word about paying up
While there are always exceptions, most builders require a deposit when a purchase agreement is signed. They also require that the buyer pay for any upgrades prior to closing. If you back out prior to closing, unless the agreement states otherwise, you will lose that money. Make sure you understand every detail in the builder’s contract before signing it.

Location, Location, Location

Where you buy not only affects the home’s current and future value, but it also affects your lifestyle. Your agent will be able to conduct a more targeted home search if you outline your preferences in neighborhoods and nearby amenities. Here’s a checklist of items you should consider and communicate to your chosen real estate agent.

  • Urban, suburban or rural
  •  Desired commute time to work
  •  Desired school districts
  •  Desired neighborhoods
  •  Proximity to the airport
  •  Proximity to beaches
  •  Proximity to restaurants and retail
  •  Access to major highways and thoroughfares
  •  Access to public transportation
  •  Health care facilities
  •  Parks and recreation
  •  Length of time you plan to live in the home (Your agent should be knowledgeable about growth trends and projections that could affect your investment.)

Eight Steps to Buying Your Home

Eight steps to buying your home

1. Decide to buy.

Although there are many good reasons for you to buy a home, wealth building ranks among the top of the list. We call home ownership the best “accidental investment” most people ever make. But, we believe when it is done right, home ownership becomes an “intentional investment” that lays the foundation for a life of financial security and personal choice. There are solid financial reasons to support your decision to buy a home, and, among these, equity buildup, value appreciation, and tax benefits stand out.

Base your decision to buy on facts, not fears.

  1. If you are paying rent, you very likely can afford to buy
  2. There is never a wrong time to buy the right home. All you need to do in the short run is find a good buy and make sure you have the financial ability to hold it for the long run
  3. The lack of a substantial down payment doesn’t prevent you from making your first home purchase
  4. A less-than-perfect credit score won’t necessarily stop you from buying a home
  5. The best way to get closer to buying your ultimate dream home is to buy your first home now
  6. Buying a home doesn’t have to be complicated – there are many professionals who will help you along the way

2. Hire your agent.

The typical real estate transaction involves at least two dozen separate individuals-insurance assessors, mortgage brokers and underwriters, inspectors, appraisers, escrow officers, buyer’s agents, seller’s agents, bankers, title researchers, and a number of other individuals whose actions and decisions have to be orchestrated in order to perform in harmony and get a home sale closed. It is the responsibility of your real estate agent to expertly coordinate all the professionals involved in your home purchase and to act as the advocate for you and your interests throughout.

Seven main roles of your real estate agent

A Buyer’s Real Estate Agent:

  1. Educates you about your market.
  2. Analyzes your wants and needs.
  3. Guides you to homes that fit your criteria.
  4. Coordinates the work of other needed professionals.
  5. Negotiates on your behalf.
  6. Checks and double-checks paperwork and deadlines.
  7. Solves any problems that may arise.

3. Secure financing.

While you may find the thought of home ownership thrilling, the thought of taking on a mortgage may be downright chilling. Many first-time buyers start out confused about the process or nervous about making such a large financial commitment.

From start to finish, you will follow a six-step, easy-to-understand process to securing the financing for your first home.

Six steps to Financing a Home

  1. Choose a loan officer (or mortgage specialist).
  2. Make a loan application and get preapproved.
  3. Determine what you want to pay and select a loan option.
  4. Submit to the lender an accepted purchase offer contract.
  5. Get an appraisal and title commitment.
  6. Obtain funding at closing.

4. Find your home.

You may think that shopping for homes starts with jumping in the car and driving all over town. And it’s true that hopping in the car to go look is probably the most exciting part of the home-buying process. However, driving around is fun for only so long-if weeks go by without finding what you’re looking for, the fun can fade pretty fast. That’s why we say that looking for your home begins with carefully assessing your values, wants, and needs, both for the short and long terms.

Questions to ask yourself:

  1. What do I want my home to be close to?
  2. How much space do I need and why?
  3. Which is more critical: location or size?
  4. Would I be interested in a fixer-upper?
  5. How important is home value appreciation?
  6. Is neighborhood stability a priority?
  7. Would I be interested in a condo?
  8. Would I be interested in new home construction?
  9. What features and amenities do I want? Which do I really need?

5. Make an offer.

When searching for your dream home, you were just that – a dreamer. Now that you’re writing an offer, you need to be a businessperson. You need to approach this process with a cool head and a realistic perspective of your market. The three basic components of an offer are price, terms, and contingencies (or “conditions” in Canada).

Price – The right price to offer must fairly reflect the true market value of the home you want to buy. Your agent’s market research will guide this decision.

Terms – The other financial and timing factors that will be included in the offer.

Terms fall under six basic categories in a real estate offer:

  1. Schedule – A schedule of events that has to happen before closing.
  2. Conveyances – The items that stay with the house when the sellers leave.
  3. Commission – The real estate commission or fee, for both the agent who works with the seller and the agents who works with the buyer.
  4. Closing costs – It’s standard for buyers to pay their own closing costs, but if it is a priority for you, it’s a question you should ask.  You don’t ask, you don’t get.  You may end up paying full price and the home will need to appraise at that higher price, but in this way, you are essentially rolling the closing costs into the loan.  Most sellers don’t mind paying your closing costs as long as they net their desired net proceeds at closing.  
  5. Home warranty – This covers repairs or replacement of appliances and major systems. You can always ask the seller to pay for this.  They may say “Yes”.
  6. Earnest money – This protects the sellers from the possibility of your unexpectedly pulling out of the deal and makes a statement about the seriousness of your offer.  Your agent can provide you with a guideline of what is common for various home price points and markets.

6. Perform due diligence.

Unlike most major purchases, once you buy a home, you can’t return it if something breaks or doesn’t quite work like it’s supposed to. That’s why home owner’s insurance and property inspections are so important.

A homeowner’s insurance policy protects you in two ways:

  1. Against loss or damage to the property itself
  2. Liability in case someone sustains an injury while on your property
  3. Flood Insurance may be required by your lender, depending on the flood zone in which the home is located.  An experienced insurance agent can look up the flood zone for you prior to writing an offer and provide a insurance quote so that you can factor that into your monthly payment.

The property inspection should expose the secret issues a home might hide so you know exactly what you’re getting into before you sign your closing papers.

  • Your major concern is structural damage.
  • Don’t sweat the small stuff. Things that are easily fixed can be overlooked.
  • If you have a big problem show up in your inspection report, you should bring in a specialist. If the worst-case scenario turns out to be true, you might want to walk away from the purchase.  Sometimes overlooked, a pool inspection an be a good choice, since many inspectors are not experts in pool equipment or their inspections do not include this.  This could result in issues with pool heater systems, filters, motors  and other components can be missed.

Real estate taxes are also something that should be researched.  What the current seller is paying is not necessarily what you will pay in future years. 

Just a couple of examples of how real estate taxes can differ:

  • New Construction Homes – The property has not yet been assessed.  Therefore, there is no sense of what value the county property appraiser will assign to the new home.  Calling the county appraiser’s offer is will get you started in the right direction, but an experienced agent should also be able to provide you with comparable homes and their associated real estate taxes in order for you to at least determine a range.
  • Homestead Exemptions – Florida provides a $50,000 reduction in assessed value for primary homeowners (also called “homesteaded”), which saves hundreds of dollars in real estate taxes per year.  You must apply for this exemption.  Florida also provides a “Save Our Homes” cap on assessed value of 3% per year for homesteaded properties to protect homeowners from having drastic increases in annual taxes due to property values going up, which could result in their home becoming unaffordable.   This cap is automatically put in place when you file for the homestead exemption.  If you are not purchasing the home as a primary home and the previous homeowner was homesteaded, your taxes may very well increase.  To get a good estimate of what real estate taxes might be, taxes of comparable homes should be considered, along with guidance from the county property appraiser.

7. Close.

The final stage of the home buying process is the lender’s confirmation of the home’s worth and legal statue, and your continued credit-worthiness. This entails a survey, appraisal, title search, and a final check of your credit activity, your employment and possibly your bank statements. Your agent will keep you posted on how closing activities are progressing, but your work is pretty much done.

You just have a few pre-closing responsibilities:

  1. Stay in control of your finances – Do not make large purchases that might affect your credit score or debt-to-income ratio.  Lenders run your credit just before closing to ensure that the risk of the loan has not changed.   
  2. Return all phone calls and paperwork promptly to avoid delays in closing which can cost you money – or worse, cost you your dream home.
  3. Communicate with your agent at least once a week to provide updates on your loan process and to ask questions, as needed.
  4. Several days before closing, confirm with your agent that all your documentation is in place and in order.
  5. Arrange wire transfer of your funds needed for closing, which the title company will provide once they receive all figures from the lender.
  6. Conduct a final walk-through to ensure that the home has been maintained in the same condition as the time of contract.

On closing day, with the guidance of a settlement agent and your agent, you’ll sign documents that do the following:

  1. Finalize your mortgage.
  2. Pay the seller.
  3. Pay your closing costs.
  4. Transfer the title from the seller to you.
  5. Make arrangements to legally record the transaction as a public record.

As long as you have clear expectations and follow directions, closing should be a momentous conclusion to your home-searching process and commencement of your home-owning experience.

8. Protect your investment.

Throughout the course of your home-buying experience, you’ve probably spent a lot of time with your real estate agent and you’ve gotten to know each other fairly well. There’s no reason to throw all that trust and rapport out the window just because the deal has closed. In fact, your agent wants you to keep in touch.

Even after you close on your house, you agent can still help you:

  1. Handle your first tax return as a home owner.
  2. Find contractors to help with home maintenance or remodeling.
  3. Help your friends find homes.
  4. Keep track of your home’s current market value.

Attention to you home’s maintenance needs is essential to protecting the long-term value of your investment.

Home maintenance falls into two categories:

  1. Keeping it clean: Perform routine maintenance on your home’s systems, depending on their age and style.
  2. Keeping an eye on it: Watch for signs of leaks, damage, and wear. Fixing small problems early can save you big money later.