Below are tips for home buyers considering an investment in Florida real estate.
1. Consider the Cost of Hurricane Shutters
Hurricane Shutters are not a small investment but will provide you with a discount on your homeowners insurance. When comparing properties remember to note which ones have full wind protection and the quality and ease of use of the shutters.
2. Remember Sprinkler Systems
I am sure you are aware that it can get very hot in Florida. Homes need built in sprinkler systems to maintain the beauty of the landscaping. In ground sprinkler systems are almost standard on most South Florida homes, less so as you head north. Factor the cost of adding and repairing these systems into your cost analysis.
3. Barrier Island vs. Intracoastal vs. the Mainland
There are many buyers that believe they want to live in a barrier island because they have heard about the beauty and the instant water access. If you are a boater, direct ocean access and no fixed bridges are important. Insurance costs are higher and you will always need to contend with bridges when you want to cross over to the mainland. Many people do not realize that the ocean views are beautiful during the day...but pure blackness at night. Many people find this very disconcerting and will often prefer Intraocoastal or a city view in addition to the direct ocean view.
4. Maintenance Fees
Every condo and development will have maintenance fees and/or Homeowners association fees. They can vary significantly and need to be considered as part of your budgeting process. In a condo the building insurance costs are factored into the fees where as a single family residence it is additive. Make sure you understand all the costs that are inclusive in these fees and how and if they are capped. Taxes and insurance are also fees that you need to consider when considering the full cost of owning a home in Florida.
6. Homeowners Insurance
Ask your Realtor of a local insurance agent about flood zones and if you need flood insurance, what items in the home are eligible for insurance deductions or will increase the cost of your insurance ( wind storm protection, security systems, style of roof, Miami- Dade approved roofing and garage doors, skylights, location)
7. Owning a Home with a Pool and/or Jacuzzi
The Florida Department of Health reports, "Deaths from drowning for children less than age five in Florida are more than double the national average and are higher than any other state in the nation. More than two-thirds of these deaths occurred in swimming pools."
Most people dream of having a home in Florida with a pool and it is a great dream, but everyone needs to consider pool safety. If you have small children or grandchildren consider the cost of child-proofing the pool and patio area.
8. Home Energy Efficiency
The cost of cooling is an expense that you may not be families with. Understand the age and tonage of the air-conditioning units that are installed with the home. Anything nearing 15 years of age will need to be replaced soon and are not efficient compared with newer units. Zones air air conditioners ( more than one unit) allow you to regulate the cooling and heating in the areas of the home that may not be used often ( guest room and guest homes).
If you are used to gas cooking and heating you may be surprised to find the number of homes and neighborhoods that do not offer this as an option. Propane can be installed for gas cooktops, water heaters, fireplaces and gas grillls.
9. Year Round Yard Maintenance
These is no dormant season for lawns in Florida. Be prepared for year round yard maintenance. Grass needs to be cut about 3 times a month in the summer rainy season and twice a month in the winter.