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Buying Property In Florida: How To Avoid The Pitfalls

March 23, 2011Article by Ray Withers

America is a vast country, the State of Florida is 3 quarters the size of Great Britain. Each state has its own property laws and its own taxation system as well as many other caveats. Thus, when buying a property in Florida, or anywhere else in the US it is important that you do your research to ensure you choose the right property. Here are some of the things to look out for:

Florida Property Rentals are Zonal

Rentals in Florida are zonal, with zones for long term lets and zones for short term lets. Thus, if you buy a property that you intend to let out to tourists you must ensure you buy in a short-term zone, equally if you buy for residential letting you must buy in a long term zone. To be fair the zoning system is pretty sensible with short term zones spanning the holiday hotspots, but with these things there are always fringe areas, and this is why you must check it out.

Cheap Property isn’t Always a Bargain

The Florida property market is literally awash with cheap properties, with millions of homes having been repossessed since 2007, and tens of thousands on the market at any one time. However, the process of losing your home is a draining one, and the properties coming out of this are not usually in the best state of repair. Thus, it is important to remember than a lot of the distressed and repossessed Florida property for sale can need a lot of time and/or money spent on them in addition to the purchase price.

Register for Travel

British Citizens do not need a visa to stay in the US for 90 days because of the Visa Waiver Programme (VWP). However, since 2009 all travellers planning on staying under the VWP must register online before departure, preferably 72 hours in advance. To stay for longer than 90 days up to six months you need a B2 Visa, and to get one you must be able to prove you have the funds to support yourself during your stay.

The Buying Process

When a property has been chosen, a small (goodwill) deposit is payable to reserve the property. The contracts are then drawn up including the formal offer being made. When signed this contract is binding barring for any get-out clauses from either side. A 10% deposit is then escrowed, before a title company checks on the public records, and insures the property cannot be claimed by any third parties. The remaining balance is then paid and the transfer of ownership completed.

The additional costs, including the fees of the lawyer, title insurer and notary, as well as the title insurance premiums, transfer taxes and property taxes will come to around 5%.


Ray Withers

Ray has over 17 years’ experience in the international property market and bought his own first international property investment back in 2002. Aside from running Property Frontiers, Ray has been involved in residential, hotel, student and commercial property investment and development in both the UK and overseas and co-wrote "Where to Buy Property Abroad - An Investor's Guide". As Founder and Trustee of the Frontiers Foundation, Ray is directly involved with many of its projects to ensure they have a direct and tangible impact in individual communities across the globe. He is passionate about property, travelling, scouting out new opportunities and finding time to spend with his young family.
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