Different states have different laws and common practices when it comes to buying a home. Here are 5 important things to know if you’re thinking of buying a home in Florida.

1. Your Realtor = Transaction Broker

  • A transaction broker’s job is to facilitate the transaction
  • Transaction brokers can represent buyers, sellers or both
  • They work ethically & fairly with all parties and disclose all known facts that materially affect the value of a home
  • All Florida real estate licensees are assumed to be transaction brokers, unless other arrangements are made in writing (e.g., single agency for buyer or seller, or non-representation)
  • Learn more about what it means to be a transaction broker

2. Attorney’s are not Required at Closing

  • Most Florida real estate transactions are closed with title agents
  • Many title companies have real estate attorneys on staff for as-needed consultations
  • You may, of course, retain the services of a licensed real estate attorney at any point in your Florida real estate transaction, at your cost

3. Insurance can be Challenging

  • In addition to homeowner’s insurance, your lender may require flood insurance
  • Homes with older roofs, or roofs that do not meet certain wind mitigation standards, may be tougher to insure, often requiring higher premiums
  • Your insurer may charge a higher rate if your home has older plumbing (e.g., galvanized pipes), outdated electrical, no hurricane straps or other issues
  • Get an insurance quote as soon as your contract is signed and finalize the details well in advance of your closing date

4. Foreclosures ≠ Fast

  • In Florida, foreclosure is a judicial proceeding that can take a year+ to complete
  • Foreclosure listings on Zillow & similar sites are often inaccurate, showing incorrect prices, or even showing homes that aren’t listed yet, or have already been sold
  • Tracking down a bank that may or may not own a particular REO property to “swing an offer” is virtually impossible – you must wait until it comes on the market

5. Florida is a Homestead State

  • Florida homeowners can file for a homestead exemption worth up to $50,000 (home must be your primary residence)
  • The exemption reduces the amount of property taxes Florida homeowners must pay, and limits how much their taxes can increase each year
  • Rules & restrictions apply, so be sure to learn more about homestead exemptions in Florida