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How to buy property in Florida

30th Aug, 2012back

How to buy property in Florida


Florida is a popular location for rental property due to the large number of tourists the state receives each year.   Investors need to be aware, however, that as Florida receives so many visitors it does have restrictions in some areas on short-term rentals.


Processes, taxes and fees can change, so investors should check the current legal and financial advice with a qualified professional.  Although the process is relatively straightforward, an investor should ensure that he or she understands about closing costs, deed restrictions, documentary stamp taxes and other costs.


Process of buying property in Florida


Once a property in Florida has been chosen, the seller and the buyer draw up a contract detailing the conditions of the sale.  This will include property inspections and title checks.  Both the seller and the buyer will be represented by different agents who will act through a broker.


A deposit will be paid at this point, usually ten per cent or more.  If the buyer withdraws from the sale, he or she will lose this deposit.  If it is found that the property does not meet the conditions of the sale laid out in the contract, the deposit will be refunded.


To complete the transaction, the seller and the buyer both appoint a settlement company.  The buyer pays the balance outstanding on the property and both parties then sign the final documents.  The transfer of ownership must be registered with the local authorities.


Investors from the UK should consider granting a US representative power of attorney so that he or she can act on their behalf.  Frequent trips to the US can be difficult to arrange, and expensive.

If possible try to find an American notary in the UK who can oversee the paperwork.


Lawyers are not usually used when purchasing property in Florida.  All documents are reviewed by title insurance companies, but UK buyers may wish to employ a lawyer who will ensure that they understand their rights and obligations under the law.


For new constructions, buyers have fifteen days to review the documents, but for existing properties it is just three days.


Fees and taxes


Investors should allow for between three per cent and five per cent for transfer fees.  This can be lower if no mortgage is taken out to purchase the property.


There are no purchase taxes in Florida, but investors will have to pay an annual tax of approximately one per cent of the value of their property.


The buyer does not pay agent’s fees.


The investor must set aside money to pay for title service companies.




Before entering the buying process, investors should ensure that they have the money to purchase the property.  If a mortgage is going to be required then it should be arranged before starting the process.  Several mortgage programmes are available, including fixed rate or variable rate mortgages.  Repayment terms can range from five to thirty years, and there are no age restrictions.


Foreclosed properties


A foreclosed property might seem like a bargain, but investors should still do some research before purchasing.  Compare the prices of recently sold similar foreclosed properties and check out all the liabilities associated with the property.  If possible, visit the property with a licensed home inspector to check how much repair work is required.