TAMPA, Fla. — A softening housing market and a leveling off of interest rates could have Floridians considering the purchase of a home next year.

But mortgage experts say preparing now will put you in a better position to buy after the New Year.

What You Need To Know

  • If you are planning a home purchase next year, there are some things you should be doing now

  • Mortgage experts say preparing now will put you in a better position to buy

  • Narrowing down home focus, checking credit scores and finding down payment assistance are all things you can do

“It’s very tough to time it out exactly, so I would always recommend starting the process at least 90 days early,” said Shawn Miller, mortgage broker with Vandyk Mortgage in Tampa.

Miller says making preparations to buy a home can make the process easier and quicker, especially in a market that is still competitive.

Although the cut-throat nature of home buying has chilled since 2021 and 2022, some homes are still seeing multiple offers and cash buyers.

Being ready to move quickly may make the difference in a successful sale or a drawn-out process.

Miller suggests a list of four priorities to begin the home buying process.

One of the most popular local down payment assistance programs for Floridians is Hometown Heroes.

Before this year, it was only available for nurses and first responders. It is now available to anyone working for a Florida employer.


  • Know your credit score

  • Knowing what credit score mortgage lenders will see can give you time to improve your score or file for corrections. MyFICO.com provides a monthly service allowing you to see the score mortgage lenders will see, and running your score early does not negatively impact your credit.
  • Pay down credit card debt

  • Americans are carrying a record-setting $1.08 trillion in credit card debt right now. Maxed out credit cards don’t look good to lenders. Miller suggests paying down credit cards from smallest to largest balances, helping you build momentum as you wipe out debt.
  • Consult a tax professional

  • Your reported income on your latest tax return can make a big difference on a lender's decision and interest rates. Check with a tax professional to see if buying before or after you file taxes is a better option for you.
  • Research special assistance programs

  • Miller says several programs are available for buyers and that a traditional 20% down mortgage isn’t always needed. FHA loans start at 3.5% and other programs offer 3-5% down. Military members and people looking to buy rural properties could 100% finance a mortgage and put nothing down.