Andy Weiser Fort Lauderdale Realtor Blog

Essential First Time Homebuying Tips

Buying your first property is replete with emotion. Excitement, thrill and perhaps a little anxiety and fear until you proceed through all of the steps. A home purchase is usually one of biggest investments that you will make so naturally you will want to make sure you are prepared and do it right. Here are some key things to consider. 

No Home is Perfect

Even if a home appears to be perfect, no home is. Just because the home was recently renovated doesn’t mean that there may not be some issues. Some things may not have been done properly or perhaps a system or appliance may not have been replaced with the home’s overhaul. The takeaway is that you always want to have a home inspection to be 100% clear on the home’s true condition.

Official Pre-approval

Many people go online to start googling for how much they can afford or look at online calculators for home payments that appear to be reasonable. However, the only way to truly know how much you can be “approved” to afford by a lender is to consult a professional mortgage agent. Give them your financial profile and they will run your credit and provide you with a number stated in a letter of how much you can afford.

Keep a Tight Schedule

One thing to note is that time is of the essence with all things real estate. From submitting your offer quickly on a home you like to getting your required steps on time as you progress through the home purchase process. Your typical closing is about 45-60 days when there is a mortgage involved. You will need to have things done in time such as a home inspection, home appraisal and loan application details completed.

Choose Professionals

From a lender to an agent you want to arm yourself with an experienced professional team. Before you simply call your friend’s uncle in another state because he is a mortgage broker, make sure whoever you decide to hire is experienced and professional. Someone who is responsive is imperative as it can make or break a deal. 


At any given time despite how hot the market is you can find yourself getting outbid on one or more properties. This is why it is important to act fast but also keep in mind that everything happens for a reason. While you may be heartbroken that you missed out on one home the one you eventually purchase may be twice as nice. 

11 Home Improvement Ideas For Smaller Homes

Regardless of the price of a home they can come in all shapes and sizes. Even a smaller home with less square footage could be a less expensive property in the suburbs or even a high end coastal condo with amazing waterfront views. Whatever the situation may be smaller homes can feel even smaller depending on how they are set up. Here are some really good tips for making your smaller home feel less cramped and more spacious. 

Paint colors

Choosing neutral colors is always best when selling, but even for making a smaller home look larger this can help too. Avoid your rich, darker colors as they can close in a space and make it feel dark and smaller than it actually is.


Avoid doing the busy collages of artwork and stick to a few, large pieces. Modern and abstract design pieces are always best over anything too ornate or detailed. 


Molding that is added to the ceiling is always a nice touch to elevate the room’s appearance, but it is also a good trick to bring the eye up creating an illusion of height. For smaller spaces, stick to a more simple molding.


Lighting in any situation is key. Especially for those smaller spaces adding recessed lighting can really help illuminate the room without cluttering up the space. Follow up with some under cabinet task lighting as well to reflect even more light. 


Open up and show off the whole bathroom by using a clear glass door. Opaque glass doors or shower curtains will always make the smaller bathroom feel even smaller. Clear glass will allow the eye to see the entire space making it feel larger.


Wall treatments can be a fun trick. Hang them higher to create an illusion of more space. Hang them higher than your windows and extend the rod beyond the window width as well. Vertical striped fabrics will only help further give a feeling of height to the room.


The lighter the better. If you are replacing flooring then you can accomplish this when you select your new materials. Alternatively selecting light colored area rugs can also help do the trick too.

Outdoor space

Never underestimate your outdoor spaces as they are an extension of your living space for a good portion of the year. Invest in either a nice dining set or lounging chairs to create a gathering area. There are some great outdoor rug options these days as well that can finish off the area making it feel even more cozy and welcoming.

Creative, small spaces 

Smaller homes sometimes have little nooks or spaces that can be creatively used for storage. It may be a space under the stairs that could be used as storage shelves or perhaps you have a space in the kitchen that could benefit from overhead storage like a pot rack. Oftentimes there is more space than you think when you get creative.


This is an age old trick. The use of mirrors will always create an illusion of more space. Just be mindful of your usage. Walls of floor to ceiling mirrors can sometimes look outdated or less polished.

Remove a wall

This is certainly not a DIY project, but taking down a wall that may separate a kitchen from a living room will most definitely open up your floor plan making it feel larger. Consult with a professional to see if the wall is load bearing to see if it is possible to remove. 


The Steps of Buying a Home With a Timeline

Most buyers have a general idea of the home buying process but many want to know what exactly is the timeline of the steps. While every deal is different, the average timeline is fairly straightforward in what needs to be done and how long it takes. Here is a closer look at what is involved.

Locate an agent (1-5 days)

You’ve already done that by working with me!

Pre-Approval (1-3 days)

This is a fairly easy process that can even be done in just 24 hours. Contact a reputable lender and provide them with all of your financial information. They will also pull a credit report for you so that they have the whole picture to let you know the amount you can afford. If you need help finding a mortgage lender I’m happy to give you a list of reputable, easy to work with lenders to speak with.

Home search

While this is the next step in the process, timing for your home search can vary. This will depend on things like the market that you are searching in as well as how strict your criteria are. 

Submit offer/negotiate and sign contract (2-10 days)

Once you locate a home you like then you need to decide what to offer. That includes an offer price, closing date as well as any contingencies. It will depend on the situation of the seller on how long this process will take. If you submit a strong offer then the seller may respond quickly to arrive at agreed upon terms.

Home inspection (3-10 days)

Once your offer is accepted then it is time to schedule an inspection. You can typically do this within a week and then receive the report in hand approximately a day or so after it has been completed. The actual inspection takes roughly 2 or 3 hours depending on the size of the home.

Negotiate repairs (2-5 days)

Once you have completed the inspection there may be some items that are discovered that may need attention. If these are significant then you may want to negotiate with the sellers either to have them complete them or to revisit the purchase price.

Finalize loan (Ongoing until closing)

While you provided some basic background information for your pre-approval, once the offer is accepted then things move forward where the bank will need to dive in deeper to verify all of your information. This is where you need to provide tax statements, pay stubs, bank account info, etc. The bank will process all of this along with collecting things like the appraisal to ensure that everything is set right up until the closing. 

Appraisal (3-10 days)

The appraisal is something that you will pay for, but the bank will order. Banks will need to verify that the amount being paid for the home is not more than it is worth. It can take a couple of days to get an appointment as well as a couple of days after to receive the report. The actual appraisal appointment takes usually about an hour or two depending on the property size.

Homeowner’s insurance (2-3 days)

Shortly after your offer is accepted you will want to shop around for insurance quotes. Getting an insurance binder is required by the lender so while you can take time to shop around, you will need this locked down before your closing.

Prepare closing funds (36 hours before closing)

Three days before closing your lender will give you the final copy of the closing disclosure documents so that you will know exactly what you need to pay at the time of closing. Make sure you have funds readily available as well as any wiring instructions that you may need.

Walkthrough (24 hours before closing) 

The final walkthrough is always best to schedule as close to the closing as possible. Do this after the sellers have moved out and any repairs that have been requested have been made. Double check that all is in good condition within the home.

Closing (1 hour)

The final step is the closing where all signatures are made and the exchange of monies is done. Although there are many signatures to be made, this process is usually about an hour in duration. Once all is complete and the keys are handed over then you are officially the homeowner!


How To Negotiate The Best Deal On A Home

When you have finally decided that it is time to move you may ask yourself, how do I get the best deal on a home? The short answer to that question is to keep focused on your plan and to avoid letting your emotions get the best of you. Here are a handful of steps to take so that you can achieve that goal.

Mortgage Prequalification

Getting prequalified for a mortgage is the only way for you to know what you can afford but it is also how you prove to a seller that you are financially capable of the purchase. Once your lender has informed you of how much you can afford they will provide you with a letter stating this. Submit this along with your offer to immediately prove your level of interest and ability to the seller.

Create an Offer Strategy

Before you even begin crafting your offer, decide how much you are willing to pay for the home and then backtrack to arrive at your initial offer. Figuring things out this way will help you facilitate a proper negotiation where you aren’t low balling sellers where it can be offensive or perceived as not being serious while it can also help you not spend more than you originally intended. 

Limit Contingencies

Simply put the less complicated the offer the more enticing it will be to the sellers. Retain some of the most important things like your standard financing or home inspection contingencies, but put a limit on anything else unless it is an absolute deal breaker for you. 

Ask Questions

Information can be very valuable so asking questions can arm you with some good ammunition. Ask questions such as why the sellers are moving, did they already buy a home, are there other offers or have there been? Knowing things like this can help you understand the seller’s position better where you can devise an offer that is most attractive to their needs.

Do Not Get Emotional

Buying a new home is most always a very exciting time so it is important to keep things in check. At the end of the day the home purchase is a business transaction so treating it that way will help you save money. Stay on track with your initial plan of how much you wanted to spend. If it comes to a point where the sellers won’t budge further on price, ask for things in return like covering a portion of the closing costs or perhaps a few things like outdoor furniture. 

Don’t Become Affected by Competition

It can be easy to get caught up in the competition game and want to win when there are multiple offers. However, take a deep breath and revisit your overall plan of how much you are comfortable paying for the home and what you are willing to forego. You won’t want to find yourself in a situation where you are unhappy in the end as you made too much of a sacrifice in any one direction. 


4 Ways to Be the Winning Offer on a Home

The key to buying your Fort Lauderdale home is to be as prepared as possible. While current times may have buyers moving slightly slower than before by previewing homes online first, it can certainly happen that you submit your offer in tandem with another interested party. In the pursuit of being the winning offer, here are some ways you can position yourself best so that you don’t have to begin your search all over again.


A common reason for a deal to fall through is for buyer financing so make sure yours is as secure as possible. Anyone who is seriously considering buying should of course get pre-approved for financing, but make sure you have that letter to include with your offer to prove it to the sellers. Another way you can show your commitment is to increase your earnest money amount as a pledge to the sellers.

Homes That Need TLC

Homes that are generally priced right and don’t need any updating are among the most sought after. This also means there can be a lot of competition on them too. One way to an easier purchase is to consider those homes that may need some light updating. If the core things like layout, bed and bath count and location are solid, perhaps you could manage a kitchen or flooring update while you make the home truly your taste. 

Personal Letter

While money talks, a personal letter cannot hurt to accompany your offer. If a seller has competing offers with similar terms and dollar amounts, a personal letter of who you are and how you intend on enjoying the home just may be that extra push you need into the winning corner. 


An experienced team to guide you through the process is key. From an experienced real estate agent to a reputable mortgage broker to an credible attorney, the professionals who you select can make your chances better of securing a home and successfully closing on it. These are the trusted individuals who can navigate through any potential snags with their expertise. 

Your 6 Things To Do Before Closing on a New Home

While the average home buying process is on average 30 to 45 days, it is crucial that you stay on track and accomplish the necessary steps during that time. Once you finally locate the right home and complete your negotiations, here are 6 steps to guide you through to closing.

Closing Date

Select a closing date that coincides with the sale of or lease end of your current home. It is also ideal to choose the last day of the month as you will pay the least amount of interest at the closing table and the math will work out nicely for all related accounts. 

Organize Funds

Make sure all of your money for the closing is ready and accessible on hand. You will receive documentation of what will be owed typically along with wiring instructions for how to pay it. Personal checks are not accepted but are good things to bring with you to the closing for any small incidentals that may arise. 

Title Insurance

All mortgages need an insurance policy for the dwelling the mortgage is being taken out on. This protects the lender in case the seller either didn’t fully own the home or if someone had a lien on the property. 

Homeowners Insurance

This is something you can shop around for and even play around with coverage numbers. In some cases you can even find a better deal with a company that bundles your home and auto policies together. In many locations here in South Florida, you will also potentially need a flood policy as well. 

Review the HUD

Your lender will provide you with a good faith estimate of what will be needed to pay for closing costs earlier on in the process which is very helpful for planning your money. Before you go to the closing compare these numbers with the HUD statement and inquire with your lender if anything looks like it has changed substantially. 


Schedule your walk-through as the last thing you do right before the actual closing – either the morning of or night before. Things to check for include:

-No items left by sellers

-Any repairs that were promised are completed

-Test all electronics, doors and systems

-Check for any damage or missing items

Hopefully all will be as it should. In case it is not, you can either delay the closing or potentially hold a portion of the proceeds in escrow until the dispute is resolved.