As a member of the Carpenter | Kessel team, I get to work with a lot of clients that are relocating to Florida from other states or even other countries. Many of these clients assume that buying and owning a home in Florida is the same as buying and owning a home in their home town. Based on the most common discussions I have with out of town clients, here are some items to consider as you start the process of buying a home in Florida.
1. A very strong real estate market
Many clients from other states are under the impression that seller's in our area will be willing to accept offers that are under market value just so they can get their home sold. Or, these out of state buyers want to wait until "a really good deal" comes on the market. The reality is, our real estate market on the Space Coast is too strong for seller's to accept "lowball" offers. In addition, if a home is priced under market value, it is not unusual for the seller to receive multiple offers within a couple days of the home hitting the market thus pushing the price up to or above market value. The bottom line is that you need to have realistic expectations of what the market conditions are and discussing your needs and budget with a local expert will save you a lot of time and frustration in the search for your new home.
2. Insurance can be expensive
Many clients want to buy a home in Florida in order to live near the water. Living on or near the water is amazing for many reasons: beautiful views, wildlife, beaches, water activities, etc. However, living in paradise comes with some cost. Insurance premiums on beachside properties are not cheap. Insuring waterfront homes (beachfront or riverfront) can be very expensive. There are few ways you can reduce these costs:
- If you are wiling to live on the mainland instead of the barrier island, insurance costs can be much more reasonable.
- Newer homes constructed according to updated building standards can cost less to insure.
- Insurance approved storm shutters covering all windows/openings can often reduce your premiums.
- Retrofitting your roof with hurricane straps or clips can also result in lower insurance premiums.
3. Property taxes
Compared to the rest of the country, property taxes in Florida can be seem reasonable. Obviously, higher value homes and those on the waterfront will have much higher taxes than other properties. Clients who are buying a home in Florida from another state need to be careful when researching the historical taxes on a property because the taxes the current owner is paying could be very different than what will be on your first property tax bill. In Brevard county, the homestead exemption allowed on primary residences limits the amount by which the property appraiser can increase the assessed value of a home annually. So, if a seller has owned a home for many years and it qualifies for a homestead exemption, then the current assessed value could be significantly lower than market value. When you buy that home, the property appraiser is now able to adjust the assessed value to market value which will in turn, increase the taxes on that property. When you find a property you want to buy, contact the property appraiser and ask them to estimate the taxes that will be due once you own the home.
4. Hurricanes are a part of life
As I said above, living in paradise can come with a cost. Hurricane season lasts from June through November with a peak of activity in September to October. While the likelihood of being affected by a hurricane in any given year is low, the possibility exists and we have had a few experiences in the last couple years. The key to hurricane season is being prepared well ahead of an approaching storm. Make sure your home is ready now by keeping trees pruned, securing loose fence boards or loose shingles on your roof and having proper hurricane shutters on-hand and ready to go.
Brent Burns is a REALTOR® with the Carpenter | Kessel Team at Dale Sorensen Real Estate Inc. Brent serves clients in Indialantic, Melbourne Beach, Indian Harbour Beach, Satellite Beach and surrounding communities.