At least once a month for as long as I’ve been a realtor, I get asked “Do you have any homes that are owner financing or rent to own?” and I find usually that if I ask a few more
Seven frequently asked questions on Moving to Florida from up north!
Dated: February 7 2021
In this video I’m going to go over some common questions and concerns that I usually get from my northern buyers, and in particular, I’m seeing a great influx of buyers from New York and New Jersey who are now working from home and ready to escape certain aspects of life there, and trade that in for a home office with a view of the pool, some palm trees and the sunshine.
Should I move to Florida first or how should I look for a home? Should i plan to move down and rent for several months?
Very common question is -- do I need to be there in FL to buy a home? I’m a big believer in not moving twice. So, the short answer is no. If you have a great realtor who is working with you, educating you along the way and communicating with you and you are following up with doing your own research, it can be done remotely. I often do facetime tours, or whatsapp if you don’t have an iphone, or even record video home tours and upload them to YouTube for people to watch over and over again. In fact some of the home tours I’ve put up on my channel are for people living out of state and I just liked the home so much I decided to put up a whole video of it.
Of course, flights are inexpensive right now and it’s a great idea to grab a flight down to FL and do some exploring even if it’s just for a weekend. I just had some buyers this past week from NJ, and we got to spend some time together just driving and chatting and visiting some properties.They were able to narrow down some aspects of their home search and they got to explore the various cities that they were interested in, at least from home. Now I know what they like, and they know what they like, and we can work together through video to find it.
As far as your research goes, you’ll want to check out things like school districts, proximity to your office, perhaps proximity to an airport or the theme parks or the beach. Above all else, your budget will probably dictate a lot of where you will end up living, because you may want to live on the beach, but you may end up inland based on prices. But these are your lifestyle choices that are going to be up to you.
If you have a home that you need to sell in your home state, your initial focus should be on that. You will want to consult with a realtor in your area who knows the market well and ask them if there is anything you should do to your home to prepare. If you dont have an agent in your area yet, I would be happy to refer a great agent to you.
Should I get a lender in Florida or can I use the guy at home who helped me buy my last house? Well, you will need to find out if they are licensed in FL first of all. If they are, then you can. Sometimes, though, it’s best to use a local lender that is well known here in FL to take away any doubt in the minds of the seller and their agent. It is a sellers market right now, and if there are multiple offers on a property sometimes it helps to have a well-respected local lender. Or at least to get pre-approved with a local lender and let the seller know that you have talked to someone here.
Now, above and beyond all of that, if you are currently in a work from home situation, you will probably need to get some sort of letter from your employer stating that you can work from anywhere. Do make sure that you can get that before you do anything else. If you can’t get that, you will be purchasing -- at least in the eyes of your lender -- a vacation property or second home, which will require a higher downpayment usually 20 or 25% -- and will probably have a higher interest rate.
Do I need to find a job in Florida before I move? If you’re not planning on retiring here, and you’re not in the working from home scenario that I’ve already mentioned, you may be wondering how or when to find yourself a job. The fact is in both the rental and buying market, there is a lot of competition right now, so it may be best to try to get yourself hired from wherever you are now as landlords in particular may not consider your application. For buyers, again, your lender is going to need to see that you either work from home and can live anywhere or that you have a job here. They will not be able to provide you with a mortgage if you are employed in Pennsylvania but living in Florida. I have actually had this happen in the past where a woman worked in a hospital 5 days a week and went home on the weekends and wanted to live in Florida, but her job was in Georgia. Even though she was perfectly capable of making the I believe it was a 5 hour drive, her lender would not allow it.
Do I need an attorney?
In some states, closings are done using attorneys. In Florida, closings are handled by title companies, so this sometimes leads to some confusion. You are more than welcome to have your attorney look over your contract and paperwork, but just note that the contracts we use in Florida were created by the Florida Bar and the Florida Assocation of Realtors. Sometimes the difficulty I find in involving a lawyer is that they want to either modify the contract or add extra details to it and that can make it difficult for the seller and their agent to want to accept the offer.
How are the property taxes? Property taxes are generally lower in Florida than up north. Now in Florida when you buy a home, you’re going to see a wide variety of property taxes as you’re looking at houses. On one listing you may see that a homeowner’s tax bill is $1200 a year and the house next door might be paying $3800. You’re probably going to wonder why. Usually it’s because the sellers who are paying $1200 per year have lived in the home for a very long time, while the people paying $3800 moved in more recently. When you live in a property in Florida full time, you want to declare it as your homestead. What that does is, it will take $50,000 off the assessed value of your home, and most of your taxes will be figured on that number. Furthermore In 1992 the Florida Legislature passed the Save our Homes Act, which basically prevents the Assessed Value of a homesteaded property from going up more than 3% a year or the Consumer Price Index (“CPI”), whichever is less. When a property is purchased and homesteaded, on the very first January 1 after you’ve bought it, the Market Value will be determined for the first time. On this first valuation date, the Market Value and the Assessed Value will start out the same. As the years go on, the hope is that your Market Value will go up, but the Save Our Homes Act will limit increases in your Assessed Value to no more than 3% a year or CPI.
When is the best time of year to buy a home?
Really, whenever you like. The housing market is strong year round. We really don’t have a slow season. During the fall and winter months, we have our snowbirds, we have families with kids on winter break coming to visit and do some home shopping. During the spring, we get lots of families hoping to find a house and move during the summer before the school year starts. During the summer, same thing. Lots of families hoping to get in a new place before school starts in mid-August. And do keep that in mind. In most counties, school begins in mid-August. And in 2021, we have just lots of people moving here simply because their jobs are now remote and well, they can.
My very most frequently asked question is also the hardest to answer...
What is the best area to live in Florida?
You're somewhere far off in another state looking online and if you’re one of the work from home people or you’re retiring here, all of Florida is open to you. It’s overwhelming right? You are going to have to decide if you want to be in the north, where you might have a tiny bit of a winter, in the south, where you’ll never see winter but might get some stronger and more intense storms, or here in the middle, where you’re fairly close to beaches and theme parks but usually sheltered from the brunt of the storms and living in pretty much one season year round. Them, once you’ve narrowed the general area down, you have to choose which town, which school district and which neighborhood. if you have decided upon Central Florida, you are welcome to browse my videos as I do have lots and lots on specific neighborhoods and cities. And don’t forget to reach out to me directly if you have any questions.
Krista Taurins, PA, of Fathom Realty is a multi-lingual, full-time realtor in Central Florida, known for her creative use of photography, video and high tech marketing tactics in real estate sales. He....
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