Buying A Home In Florida

Are you ready to move to Florida? Follow some practical tips and advice before you move... Save time, money and aggravation!


These are the three most important words in real estate. Florida is a state with multiple personalities, from quirky Key West to sleepy St. Joe. Lifestyles vary greatly from place to place, so it's important to decide not only where you want to live, but how you want to live. Rural areas are often laid back and quiet but may lack public transportation, cultural centers and shopping choices. Cities may offer culture and excitement, but can be very impersonal and unfriendly. Lakes and rivers are plentiful in Florida, offering great fishing and boating. The drawbacks to living on fresh water are occasional floods and alligators. While living on the beach is great, the drawbacks include the high price of beachfront property, over-crowded beaches, and of course tropical storms and hurricanes. There are many retirement centers for people over 55 that offer shuttle services and recreation such as golfing, tennis and swimming. If you decide to move close to a tourist attraction, be prepared for tourists and traffic. Medical services, clinics and hospitals are located in or near most cities, while many well known hospitals offer satellite clinics in rural areas. The winter can get cold from northern Florida to south of Tampa, with occasional freezes. The Gulf and Atlantic coasts stay slightly cooler in the summer because of sea breezes; while the center of the state can be hot and humid during summer with frequent thunderstorms. Research the area you are interested in. Get the local newspaper (may be available online) and read the news. Check housing prices in the classifieds and local real estate guides. Official notices may give information about bids for projects and public notices such as zoning changes, controversial businesses and future projects. You will also find information online about churches, schools, clubs and organizations you may be interested in.

Buying Your Home

Will it be a single family home, a condo, a townhome or mobile home? Most will buy a single family home in a residential subdivision. If your purchase is in a community with a homeowners association, please do read all the rules first. Some deed restrictions and homeowners associations are quite strict, limiting anything from the color of your home to the weight of your pet. Zoning restrictions in certain areas limit the number homes per acre or whether suited for duplexes or mobile homes. Certain zoning can allow all homes, which is why you may see a mobile home next to a new home. Condos are usually situated in large buildings, similar to an apartment complex. Everything within the walls of your unit belongs to you; outside the walls are common property. You may be assessed for common repairs or problems, such as roof replacements or pool repairs. A townhome is usually an upscale duplex type of home in a deed restricted area. Mobile homes can be situated on rural lots, city lots or in parks. Some of these parks have clubhouses, pools, tennis, golf and public transportation. Mobile homes offer an inexpensive alternative to single family homes, but are not safe during severe storms. Always find out if the home is in a flood zone or evacuation zone. Once you have found your dream house get a home inspection by a qualified inspector. This is well worth the money to find potential problems before you buy. A home inspection can also give you leverage when buying, with either a reduction in price or a repair before closing. Always ask the realtor if there are any special tax assessments for the future, such as installing a sewer system or road paving. Ask the realtor what is included in the sale of the home, is the washer and dryer included? Know what the closing costs are before signing a contract. You can negotiate the commission, as well as your own terms and earnest money that you are willing to put down. Don't forget to include who will repair items mentioned in the home inspection. There are many sellers who are willing to hold a second mortgage or offer some owner financing, ask if your seller is offering it.

After The Closing

Before you move into your new Florida home, have it cleaned from top to bottom while it is still empty"¦you may never have that chance again. Once the home is thoroughly cleaned, a one-time pest control application is advised. Homestead Exemption allows a $25,000 tax exemption on your home but sign up time is limited from January to March only, the year following your move. Finally, have a nice glass of wine on your screened patio and enjoy the beautiful sunset!

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