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5 Things to Know About Buying a Florida Home

buying a florida home

People around the world know Florida for many things – sunshine, great beaches, world-class amusement parks – but the Sunshine State also deserves praise in another category: real estate.

While prices have fluctuated in the past, producing higher highs and lower lows than the rest of the country, Florida provides some of the best opportunities for home buying in the country.

Over the summer, prices in the Tampa market surged as more buyers than sellers flooded into the market. However, the area still overflows with good deals.

Given the history of the Florida market, today’s home buyers will benefit from appreciating housing prices when the times comes to sell. In another words, real estate in Tampa and many parts of the Sunshine State more often than not proves a wise investment.

Buyers should keep the five issues listed below in mind when buying a Florida home.

Buying a Florida Home

The concept of “location, location, location” has been around forever for a reason: in real estate, it’s everything. You already know Florida offers plenty of good neighborhoods, great weather and more entertainment and recreational choices than most places. But make sure to check out the tax rates, school district, flood zone, age of utility lines in the area, crime rates, history of property values and current number of foreclosures in your area. Makes sure, and then make sure again, that the location you choose really meets your criteria.

Homestead State

Fortunately, lawmakers long ago made Florida a homestead state. Currently, the first $25,000 of home value is exempt from all taxes. A second $25,000 exemption applies to the value of a home between $50,000 and $75,000, although school district taxes still apply. So if you have a $125,000 home, $25,000 is exempt from all taxes, an additional $25,000 is exempt from all taxes except school district taxes, meaning the taxable value of the home is $75,000. For more detail, go here.

No Attorneys Required

Florida law does not require an attorney’s presence at the closing of a real estate transaction. Instead, title agents handle the close of most home deals. Title companies may keep an attorney on-call for consulting, but they do not need to be at the closing. So, if you do want an attorney present, you will have to pay for one yourself.

Home Insurance

As the recent Hurricane Matthew showed, severe weather can become an issue in Florida. Depending on where the home is located, home owner’s insurance can prove difficult to find and the cost might be higher than other parts of the country. Shop around as much for insurance as you did the house and get a quote long before you head into the closing. Other issues:

  • In addition to homeowners insurance you might need flood insurance
  • Homes with older roofs, those not built to the latest wind-resistance standards, might require higher rates
  • Like roofing, older plumbing and electrical might mean higher rates

Check Immigration Laws

Many newcomers from outside the United States move to Florida for all the reasons people from other states move there. However, for immigrants it is important to understand the often complex U.S. visa laws. Your visa will depend on issues such as whether you plan to live full-time or part-time in Florida and if you work for a U.S.-based company.

These are some of the primary issues to consider when choosing a home. In your favor, Florida offers remarkable value and lower taxes than many places, making buying a Florida home a smart move for many.

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