Think Before You Look

Are You Considering Buying A Second Home, Vacation Home or Condominium in Southwest Florida? There’s Homework to be Done First!

Find an exclusive buyer’s agent whom you can trust.

The most important preparation you can do is to find a buyer agent who represents you exclusively and who understands your goals and needs. In many Florida real estate transactions the Realtor will represent the transaction (transactional agent) and not the buyer (exclusive buyer’s agent). Ask the agent if their agency lists property. If they do they have a relationship with the seller which can cause a conflict of interest for them.

Your buyer agent will be able to help you with the rest of the homework. They will be able to direct you to professional and reliable mortgage brokers, insurance agents and home inspectors and will be able to guide you through the buying process.

Will you need a mortgage?

While cash is still king not all second home, vacation home or condominium buyers want to or are able to pay cash. If you need a mortgage please do yourself a favor and get prequalified. This way you can take the time to shop around to find the best mortgage for your financial needs. Ask your buyer’s agent for local lender recommendations. Your agent knows who is professional and can close on time and with the fewest surprises. Make sure you understand the real estate loan process completely.

Understand the additional costs.

Even without a mortgage a home costs money. Talk with your attorney or tax advisor to understand Florida property taxes and how a Florida Homestead Exemption might benefit you. Ask your buyer’s agent for the name of a professional and reliable insurance agent and talk with them to understand the types of insurance that may be required in your area of Southwest Florida. Finally, even new homes require annual maintenance, or lawn and pool services. Consider these when determining your real estate budget.

Make a priority list.

Talk with your family about what is important to everyone. Understand why you are buying the property, what type of property will best suit the family needs and where it should be located. Weigh the pros and cons of condominium living versus single family home living and determine what best fits your needs. Which features and amenities are most important to you and your family? Once you have agreed prioritize from most to least. Finally, share this with your buyer’s agent. Ask their opinion as to whether it’s realistic or whether you have missed something.

What is your plan for the future?

It’s easy to get wrapped up in a real estate “wish list” but you should also think about future resale. Your profit will be made on the purchase. Is your present or future goal retirement to Florida? Will your present requirements for square footage, bedrooms, community type, etc. be the same in the next few years? These and other factors should be considered.

Markets can change quickly. You need to be ready to change tactics!

To be a successful buyer you need to be “ready, willing and able.” In many of today’s markets the inventory of real estate for sale is low and a buyer who is not prepared can miss out on the home they wish to purchase. If you haven’t done your homework in advance and have to do the work along the way you may find that someone else has purchased your dream property ahead of you.  That’s where an experienced buyer’s agent can be crucial to your success.

Mike Badenoch is an exclusive buyer agent and broker associate with Buyer’s Choice Realty Group, Inc., Sanibel, Florida. Buyer’s Choice Realty Group, Inc. is an exclusive buyer agency representing only real estate buyers on Sanibel and Captiva Islands, Fort Myers and Cape Coral, Florida. Feel free to call Mike at 239-292-1233 with any questions you may have or visit his web site at

your exclusive buyer’s agent