The Bankrate promise
At Bankrate we strive to help you make smarter financial decisions. While we adhere to strict , this post may contain references to products from our partners. Here's an explanation for .
If you’re looking for sunshine, golf and Atlantic beaches at a much more affordable price than South Florida markets like Miami and Fort Lauderdale, consider Jacksonville. This city near the state’s northern border boasts surprisingly affordable home prices and was named one of Bankrate’s top five best places to live in Florida.
While the Jacksonville housing market is moderately competitive — homes receive an average of two offers, according to Redfin data — the median home price in June was just $302,000. That’s far below the national median, which means prospective buyers have a good chance of finding an affordable home. Here’s everything you need to know about buying a house in Jacksonville.
Deciding where to live in Jacksonville
One big benefit of this city is its affordability relative to other Florida hubs. Bankrate’s cost of living calculator shows that daily expenses here are 21.6 percent lower than in Miami, and 10.3 percent lower than in Orlando.
That said, Jacksonville home prices can vary greatly depending on where in the metro area you’re looking. Despite the $302,000 median price, which is more than $100K cheaper than the national median of $410,200, there are plenty of multimillion-dollar estates too — and the closer you get to the water, the higher the prices are likely to be. A knowledgeable local real estate agent can help you figure out which Jacksonville neighborhoods will work best with your budget and lifestyle.
How to buy a house in Jacksonville
When you’re ready to buy, it’s important to know your options. Here are some key things to consider:
Saving for a down payment in Jacksonville
Conventional wisdom recommends that homebuyers make a 20 percent down payment on a home. On a median-priced $302,000 Jacksonville home, that totals $60,400. If saving that much feels intimidating, though, there are plenty of mortgage options that require much smaller down payments. For example, qualified buyers can get a conventional loan with a down payment as low as 3 percent, which is a much more attainable $9,060. Remember, though, that the more you can put down upfront, the less you’ll have to borrow — and putting down less than 20 percent will likely mean you have to pay for private mortgage insurance. Be sure to see if you’re eligible for any available down payment assistance programs for more support.
Get preapproved for a mortgage
Before you start house-hunting, it’s smart to get preapproved for a mortgage. This key step establishes how much you might be able to borrow, which helps you set a realistic budget. It also shows sellers that you’re a serious buyer who is qualified to make the purchase.
Find the right lender
You’re not obligated to formally apply for a mortgage with the same lender that issued your preapproval. When you’re ready, compare offers from several different Florida mortgage lenders to snag the best possible deal. Besides comparing interest rates, carefully consider the fee structure and terms from each lender as well.
Find the best local real estate agent in Jacksonville
Browsing online listings alone doesn’t show you the whole picture. A seasoned local real estate agent will know the market well and be able to guide your homebuying experience based on your budget and needs. Since homes in Jacksonville typically receive multiple offers, it’s important to work with an agent who can help you craft a standout offer.
Start house hunting and make an offer
Once you’re ready to start shopping for homes, be sure to have a clear idea of what you need, and what you’re willing to compromise on. If a home that you’re otherwise excited about doesn’t have the kitchen of your dreams, maybe that’s a project you can tackle down the road. But if the kitchen matters more to you than all the other things that house does have, you might need to keep looking. When you find the right home, your real estate agent can help you to make an offer that sellers will view favorably.
Get a home inspection and appraisal
You’ll still have more to do once your offer gets accepted. While home inspections aren’t technically required, this is a crucial step to uncover any hidden issues with the property that could become problems later. If the inspector finds problems, you can use them as a negotiating tactic and ask the seller to pay for whatever repairs are needed.
In addition, your mortgage lender will require a home appraisal to ensure that they’re not loaning you more than the house is worth. If the appraisal comes in too low, you will need to either renegotiate the price with the seller or cover the difference on your own.
Prioritize the scheduling of your inspection and appraisal to ensure you make your closing date — a closing delay can throw off your whole timeline.
Requirements to buy a house in Jacksonville
Can I afford a house in Jacksonville?
Some good news for buyers: Redfin data shows that Jacksonville’s already affordable home prices are dropping even further. Between June 2022 and June 2023, the median price here declined by 4.8 percent.
However, the current median of $302,000 is still a hefty sum, and how much home you can afford depends on a mix of factors. Consider your income, your debt burden (like car payments or student loans) and how much you can spend on a down payment. The more you put down upfront, the less money you’ll have to borrow, which means lower monthly mortgage payments. One crucial factor in home affordability is your credit score. With a higher credit score, you’ll be able to secure a lower interest rate, which can make for a much more affordable monthly payment.
First-time homebuyers in Jacksonville
If it’s your first time buying a home, look into Florida’s first-time buyer assistance programs, which aim to make homeownership more accessible. You may be eligible for down payment assistance or help covering your closing costs, which can greatly reduce your financial burden. Ask your real estate agent about programs that you might qualify for — there are programs at the federal and local levels as well.
The closing is the final step in the homebuying process, where you’ll sign a lot of paperwork, pay up and get the keys to your new home. Your closing statement, which will be provided by your lender, will spell out exactly how much cash you’ll need to cover your closing costs.
According to CoreLogic’s ClosingCorp, closing costs in Florida typically add up to 2.3 percent of the home’s purchase price. For a median-priced $302,000 Jacksonville home, that’s just under $7,000. That said, the final amount varies for each transaction, and the seller pays some of the costs. When it’s all over, you’ll be a Jacksonville homeowner.
Yes. According to Redfin data, the June 2023 median home price was $302,000, which represents a 4.8 percent decline compared to June of the previous year.
It is. According to a study by real estate company Knock, Jacksonville is actually one the nation’s top 15 buyer’s markets of 2023. With a median price tag of $302,000 as of June 2023, the city’s real estate market is much more affordable than much of the rest of the country. By comparison, the nationwide median home price in June was $410,200.