Advice on buying Ocala Real Estate and Ocala Homes in Ocala and surrounding Marion County Florida.
Years and years and years ago different real estate agents had different listings. That is no longer the case. All agents in a given area, usually the same county, have access to all of the same real estate listings. This is the result of the Multiple Listing Service otherwise known as the MLS. The MLS has been around for decades and is now on the Internet for everyone to see. This is important because if all agents have access to all the same listings a buyer gains nothing by trying to deal with multiple agents. The most important thing is for the buyer to find a Realtor that they like and trust.
The MLS may be online for everyone to see but there are different levels of access. Free MLS searches are a good starting point but a more detailed online search requires an agent. I set up my buyers with a Listing Cart on the Ocala Marion County MLS. I use a Realtor only search with literally hundreds of criteria and load these listings into a cart for my buyers who access it via an ID and password. Whenever a new home is listed and added to their cart my buyer gets an automatic email telling them to log on. This is a great next step for those who want some help with their online home search but aren’t ready to see homes in person, meet with a Realtor or live in another state. I pretty much just set up the cart and let the buyer look at listings until they are ready to contact me. Everything I do is permission based marketing. The buyer contacts me for help. To get a Listing Cart set up either email me with your wants and needs or use my Ocala Dream Home Finder.
Financing is the next step in your Ocala home search. You need to find out exactly how much house you can afford. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t get a loan. I can recommend several local lenders with a variety of loans programs. If you have any credit issues a good mortgage broker can advise you on how to improve your score. There also a variety of loans out there like the FHA which isn’t entirely credit score driven. Buyers can often get the seller to help with closing costs, knowing this is a must before making an offer. Many homes in Marion County, those outside the Ocala city limits, qualify for 100% financing through the USDA rural loan program. Most sellers expect proof that you have been pre approved by a lender when submitting an offer. If you don’t have a pre approval the contract will require you to get approved within 5 days. That’s a lot of running around at the last minute. Banks will not accept an offer on a foreclosure without a pre approval letter or proof of cash.
Here are a few things to know about using a Realtor here in Florida. Every state is different and it’s important to know each states rules.
Real estate agents have to be finger printed and pass an FBI background check to get a Florida real estate licence.
Referrals. If a real estate agent refers a buyer to a banker, mortgage broker, home inspector or anyone for that matter, they cannot by Florida law, receive any form of compensation.
Broker relationship. In Florida all agents work for a broker unless they are a broker. I am an agent. As of 2008 all brokers are presumed to be Transaction Brokers. Most brokers in Florida act as Transaction Brokers. If an agent brings a buyer to any of their broker’s listings, which includes every listing by all the agents in that brokers office, then that agent has to act as a transaction broker.
The duties of a Transaction Broker in Florida:
- Dealing honestly and fairly;
- Accounting for all funds; (escrow deposits)
- Using skill, care, and diligence in the transaction;
- Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable to the buyer;
- Presenting all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee otherwise in writing;
- Limited confidentiality, unless waived in writing by a party. This limited confidentiality will prevent disclosure that the seller will accept a price less than the asking or listed price, that the buyer will pay a price greater than the price submitted in a written offer, of the motivation of any party for selling or buying property, that a seller or buyer will agree to financing terms other than those offered, or of any other information requested by a party to remain confidential.
- Any additional duties that are mutually agreed to with a party.
There is also Single Agency which is where the broker is an advocate for the buyer or seller. In addition to the 7 duties of a Transaction Broker, Single Agency adds Loyalty and Obedience. Most single agency brokers are very small or one person offices with either few or no listings. In order to show their own listing a broker would have to go back to being a transaction broker because he couldn’t represent both sides as a single agent, that would be dual agency and is against Florida law. The problem with single agency is liability. As a single agent, what the agent says to a client, and vice versa, can be assumed to come directly from the mouth of the seller or buyer, which means the agent can be sued for misrepresentation, even though the seller or buyer may have given false information to the agent.The agent may have no way of knowing if the information is true or false. For these reasons most brokers prefer their agents act as Transaction Brokers. Additionally the buyer or seller would be responsible for the actions of their agent placing liability on the buyer or seller.
I only work as a Transaction Broker.
I am a member of the National Association of Realtors and follow their Code of Ethics. There are both penalties and fines for violations so most Realtors take this very seriously. The Code of Ethics is too extensive to publish here but I do have a link to The Realtor Code of Ethics .
All real estate agents and brokers must abide by the Federal Fair Housing Laws. I abide by all Fair Housing Laws and have even gone further and obtained diversity certification. I’m happy to work with anyone who can afford to buy a house.
Ocala area property taxes can be pretty confusing so I have an entire web page devoted to trying to understand them. Marion County property taxes. Ignore the taxes you see in real estate listings, read my tax guide and use the Marion County property Appraiser’s tax estimator.
Buyers have a number of expenses. The following are some of the major expenses a buyer might have to pay. An estimate of these costs will come from a lender as part of the pre approval process. Survey, Home inspection, Appraisal, Property taxes which are pro rated, HOA fees if applicable, various lender fees such as points and origination fees and home owners insurance are the major fees.
Your Ocala homes fair market value can be determined prior to making an offer by researching sales of similar properties within the previous 90 days. I will do a market analysis for you prior to presenting an offer.
Deed restrictions. Most Ocala sub divisions have deed restrictions. They vary from very little, such as no mobile homes, to quite a but more in the case of the 55+ communities. I would get the buyer a copy of applicable deed restrictions to read before making an offer.
Most closings are done by title companies in Florida. The seller pays for the title search and insurance which delivers a clear title to the buyer. The buyer of course can hire a lawyer, at their expense, if the feel that they need legal advise. If a buyer needs financing there is title insurance for the bank that issues the mortgage which is paid by the buyer which shouldn’t be confused with the title insurance provided by the seller.