6 Things Florida Home Buyers Need to Know

1. SF UNDER AIR

In Florida you will often see the size of a house listed as as square footage under air.  This technically means the portions of a house that are air conditioned. In practice, it helps buyers know that the square footage listed does not include the garage, balcony or porch.

2. HOA Fees & Restrictions

Many communities and not just condominiums, have home owners associations in Florida.  Any community with a homeowners association (HOA) is likely to have both mandatory monthly fees and also deed restrictions.  The monthly fees are often to maintain common areas, such as cutting the grass, etc, but may include anything from use of recreation facilities, such as a community golf course or club house to repairs to the exterior of the property.  

If the property is part of an HOA it is important to not only know what the monthly fees are but also whether it is well managed.  In the past, unfortunately, some poorly run condominium associations have failed to set aside adequate funds for planned repairs, such as roof replacements, thereby necessitating a special assessment to pay for it.  A special assessment is an extra monthly fee paid in addition to the standard HOA fee.

It is also important to know what restrictions deed restrictions may exist.  Even communities with free-standing homes may have a large number of restrictions.  These can include, limits on allowable pets, rules against keeping commercial vehicles in your driveway, what color you can paint your house, and more. 

In addition to community restrictions, there are also state local regulations and zoning that may limit what you can do with the property.  A Realtor can advise you of this and more.

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3. Property taxes

When shopping for a home one of the first things buyers may consider are what the property taxes are.  However, in Florida this can be misleading.  

What the seller was paying may not be the same as what you will pay.  This is because. in Florida, some property owners qualify for homestead property tax reductions.  Just because the seller qualified for a reduction, does not necessarily mean that the buyer will.  

One factor is whether the property is a permanent residence.  There are other factors as well. A Realtor can explain the ins and outs of these tax laws. 

4. Expenses

Buyers generally should expect to incur some fees and costs, in addition to the purchase price, when buying a home.  The purchase contract will say whether the seller is obligated to cover any transaction costs. These may include, home inspection fee, survey, and title search.

In Miami-Dade and Broward Counties it is customary for the buyer to choose the title company and pay for the title insurance.

5. Closing agent vs attorney

Usually in Florida a closing agent will prepare the forms, which include standard documents to transfer title, such as the deed.  Many of which need to be both signed and notarized.  It is important to remember, however, that a closing agent is not the same as an attorney.  The big difference is that an attorney can give you legal advise, and a closing agent cannot.

6. Vacant land nearby

If you are purchasing a property and notice that  there is vacant land with may be nearby, it may be good to inquire as to what the property is zoned for. Just because your are in a residential area, doesn’t necessarily mean the property next door or up the street is also zoned for residential.  

Zoning regulates the permissible uses for a property and, although developers can sometimes obtain an exemption or have zoning changed, that generally requires public notice to the neighbors and an opportunity to object.  A Realtor can check the zoning of any neighboring or nearby vacant land that is of concern. 

Martha Obregon, Realtor
Martha Obregon, Realtor

Martha Obregon

Providing timely, professional service.

Whether you are searching for your dream home, a winter residence or a residential investment property, count on Martha to facilitate a smooth and successful transaction.

An experienced Realtor and South Florida resident of over 20 years, Martha will provide the insight, professionalism, experience and attentive service you deserve.

Member Miami, Broward-Miami Realtors Association and National Realtors Association.