Buying Your Home

You Want More Than a House—You Want a Place You Can Call Home

Stephanie’s Green Tip: If you’re redoing your floors, check out bamboo, cork and linoleum. They’re sustainably harvested and manufactured—and they look great!

It’s easy to get distracted by details when looking for your first home. Try to think of the big picture—does the house have what you want in terms of space, neighborhood, yard and proximity to work and/or schools?

5 “Bad” Reasons Not to Like a House
5 “Good” Reasons Not to Like a House
5 Unique Ways to Scope Out the Neighborhood
Know What You Can Afford—Get Pre-Qualified
Florida’s Property Tax Laws—Get the Facts

5 “Bad” Reasons Not to Like a House

The wall and carpet colors give you a headache.
A little paint and a neutral-colored carpet or wood are quick fixes. Pay more attention to the layout and use of space than to the color scheme.

Dated appliances in the kitchen.
If the layout and the size are right, you can live with the appliances until you can afford new ones. Who knows, you may even get to like white (but probably not avocado).

Uninspired landscaping.
As long as there is adequate space for your needs, consider the garden and grounds a blank canvas on which you can work your horticultural magic.
Furniture that’s old and worn. Not everyone has your good taste when it comes to decorating; visualize how your things will fit into the space.

Messy rooms.
Look beyond the mess; are there enough rooms and are they large enough to accommodate your needs?

5 “Good” Reasons Not to Like a House

It does not meet your minimum requirements for bedrooms/bathrooms (unless you plan to undertake, and can afford, a major remodel).

Other homes on the block are visibly unkempt and in need of repair.
The yard is not big enough for your needs.

Inadequate closet space; you don’t want to have more stuff than room to put it in.

It’s out of your price range. Even if you love it, don’t get caught up in “I must have it at all costs” fever. There will be another one at the right price.

5 Unique Ways to Scope Out the Neighborhood

Go to the local supermarket.

Visit the neighborhood on weekend nights. Are there loud parties going on or are things relatively calm and quiet?

Walk around the block during a weekday. Are there neighbors around or does everyone go off to work?

Ask the local police department for the neighborhood crime report.

Visit the neighborhood in the evening when people are generally home from work. Are there lots of kids playing? If there is a clubhouse, visit it.

Know What You Can Afford—Get Pre-Qualified

It pays to be practical about finances before you start looking for your home in Delray Beach, Boca Raton or Boynton Beach. Taking a few minutes to become pre-qualified for a loan will keep you from busting your budget. A lender can pre-qualify you by asking a few questions about your income and expenses and then calculate what you can realistically afford. Always ask the lender to calculate your monthly payments including the mortgage, taxes, insurance and HOA fees (if applicable).

Florida’s Property Tax Laws—Get the Facts

In Florida, property taxes are paid in arrears—that means you pay at the end of the year for the previous year’s taxes. Florida also permits you to file for a homestead exemption that allows you to take $50,000 off the assessed value of a home if it is your primary residence, resulting in a tax savings. In addition, increases in your property’s assessed value are capped at 3% per year. For more information about Florida property taxes, see

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