Buying a Home in Florida

Thinking of purchasing a home in Florida? Here are some issues you should consider.

Buying a house is a large part of the American dream. Before you make the very important decision to purchase, take some time to figure out how much house you can afford, the ideal neighborhood and what kind of features you would like in a home. There are also some legal issues you should be aware of such as disclosures, purchase contracts, possible title defects, zoning issues and taxes etc. But, with the right preparation, careful choice of a real estate professional along with other qualified professionals, purchasing a home in Florida can become a very positive experience for you.

Advantages of Working with a Real Estate Professional

Before you buy a house, condo, or other home in Florida, contact a real estate agent who can help you find your home and also handle the the procedures involved with the purchase. There are many benefits of using a real estate agent, for example:

Your real estate agent should be able to help you every step of the way, from drafting a written offer and negotiating with the seller on price and other terms, to coordinating the escrow process and the closing. Your real estate agent can also help you locate other knowledgeable professionals who can assist you in the home buying process, including mortgage brokers and home inspectors.

Here's the good news - working with a professional real estate agent won't cost you any money. The seller usually pays the entire commission which is generally 6% to 7% of the house sale price, split between the seller's agent and the buyer's agent.

You should be sure to choose a real estate agent that has experience representing buyers, has good references and has the qualifications to meet your home buying needs in terms of your ideal location, type of property and your budget.

Florida Seller Disclosure Requirements:State law in Florida requires sellers to disclose any facts or conditions about their property that have a substantial impact on the value of the property and that others can't easily see. To help sellers in making all the required disclosures, the Florida Association of Realtors offers a disclosure form, which includes details on the property, including:

21% of Florida Home Buyers over 50, purchased a home in a senior communityTwenty-one percent of recent buyers over the age of 50 in Florida bought a home in an adult community. Source: 2014 Profile of Home Buyers and Sellers Florida Report, by the National Association of Realtors.

Seller Disclosures are important for you as a buyer, since just looking at the property may not be enough to tell you what problems its owner encountered with it while living there.

In addition to Florida required disclosures, sellers of houses that were built before 1978 must also comply with federal Title X disclosures regarding lead-based paint and hazards.

Home Inspections in Florida

Buyers shouldn't rely only on seller's disclosures. It is highly recommened that you hire an independent home inspector to verify all the information from the seller's disclosure. Also, many buyers make their offer contingent upon a satisfactory inspection report, just to be sure there are no material defects and to identify the following:

Florida Real Estate Purchase Agreements

A Florida real estate purchase agreement is a legal document that has all the terms and conditions of your real estate transaction. The document must be in writing and must be signed by all parties (buyers and sellers) to the contract, and include an offer to sell or purchase, an acceptance of the offer, the sales price and an adequate description of the property.

Title Issues in Florida

Buyers should always have a title search from a title company before buying a home. The title company searches all public records databases as well as other sources for any liens, easements (for example, utility company's right to access part of the property), or other encumbrances or title restrictions that could affect the property. If the title search finds any issues or problems, the buyer should have the seller fix those problems as a condition to closing.

You should also consider buying title insurance to protect the title of the property against any adverse claims by third parties or any clouds that the title company may have missed during the title search.

Working with an Attorney in Florida

Florida does not require buyers to hire an attorney during the house buying transaction. Although it is not a requirement, you may decide to hire an attorney at some point during the process. Some situations where you could consider an attorneys' help for example if you are purchasing in a planned unit development that has extensive CC&R's or if you are buying a house jointly with others and need help structuring your co-buyer agreement.