How to Buy a Property in Florida – Professionals You Need

How to Buy a Property in FL

You will need the assistance of many  professionals on your journey to being a Florida homeowner, and in fact the list can be daunting. As a first step we want to stress that the most important professional you will hire is, without doubt, your Realtor.

Unlike in the UK, and many other countries in the world, when buying Florida property you typically engage a buyer’s agent or Realtor who works exclusively for you. An experienced and skilled Realtor will manage the process of engaging the other professionals you need, and make your buying process as seamless as possible.

Under the US system your Realtor costs you nothing — as the buyer’s agent is paid by the seller. And if you choose the right Realtor, it can ensure your buying experience is stress-free and smooth. International clients have told us that having a licensed professional actively working for you to find a home and get the deal done, is a huge plus of buying US property.

How to Buy a Property in Florida? Find A Great Realtor -the Most Important Professional You Will Hire

Expert realtor with Florida clients

But like all things in life, real estate agents vary, and there are different levels of competence and expertise. We want to stress that you should make sure your real estate agent is a licensed Realtor, as this shows they have taken extra certifications to ensure their expertise is up to date.

In addition, as an international buyer, you should only work with Realtors with the CIPS (certified international property specialist) certification. These professionals have the extra knowledge necessary to finesse the specifics of an international sales process and guide you on all aspects of how to buy a property in Florida.

Once you have your Realtor in place, he or she should have a network of trusted and experienced professionals they can pull in to assist you in all areas of your purchase. Over many years of working in real estate, we have interacted with hundreds of different real estate professionals, contractors and vendors.

Over this time we have developed the philosophy that we will only work with people that we know, like and trust. The correct Realtor, like us, will have great relationships with exemplary professionals, who have proven themselves to go above and beyond.

In this article our goal is to provide you with a context for the role each of these professionals play, and some parameters to help you choose them on your own should you need to.

Other Professionals You Will Need and What They Do:

Home Inspector

The home inspector plays one of the most important roles during the Florida home purchase process. They analyze the property’s condition very comprehensively and often this reveals issues that wouldn’t be picked up on walk-throughs. The home inspector’s work protects you as a buyer from any nasty surprises, and the subsequent report can help you re-negotiate a contract, or factor-in any work that needs doing, to the price you’re prepared to pay for the house.

Florida Building Inspector

Mortgage Broker

A mortgage broker is a liaison between borrowers and lenders. They have a relationship with a number of lenders and are expert at matching the needs of each client’s particular situation with the best lender. Mortgage brokers gather all the necessary documents, including credit reports, to complete your file for the lender.

If you provide all your paperwork in a timely manner, and are proactive in disclosing all the pertinent information, you will make sure that your mortgage broker can do the best possible job for you.  Also, time is of the essence here, as when you submit all your paperwork your broker will do their best to lock in interest rates.

Insurance Agent

In Florida when you work with an insurance agent — also known as an insurance broker — they are working on your behalf to find the best coverage available for your circumstances. Don’t be tempted to go with the cheapest offer.

Make sure that your insurance agent is reputable and honest and that you are FULLY covered for all the potential eventualities at your specific property. You don’t want to find down the line, when you really need your insurance policy to be watertight, that you were under-insured or missing important details because the agent was trying to give you the cheapest possible policy.

Find the Perfect Realtor

We understand the uniqueness of international buyers’ needs and have created a system to personally match you with a local realtor that speaks your language, understands your needs, and can hand pick properties to fit your goals.

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Pest Inspector

The pest inspector will spend anywhere from twenty minutes to an hour (depending on the size of the home) examining the entire structure of the property, including any access points into the attic or under the house, where pests might be hiding. The report the pest inspector prepares is very important in identifying any current, or potential future problems.

This gives the buyer peace-of-mind, but also can identify any costs which may be incurred in sorting out problems. For some international buyers a pest inspection is a worrying concept, but it is very necessary in Florida’s tropical climate. Rest assured, dealing with pests is very routine here, and should not be a problem. But you do want to know up-front if any money will need to be spent.

Appraiser

The appraiser is an independent third party hired to give a fair and accurate value of the property. If you are working with a lender they will choose the appraiser. If you are paying cash and elect to have an appraisal, you will be able to choose one.

The appraisal is important as it can sometimes highlight an inconsistency in the price of the house according to the market, and it is good to have that information at your fingertips whether financing or buying your Florida home outright, so you are able to negotiate, or adjust your offer accordingly.

Escrow Agent

Escrow refers to money held by an independent third party on behalf of two parties who are completing a transaction. When you are purchasing a property and submit your deposit(s), these monies go into escrow. The escrow agent (person holding the escrow monies) can be either a real estate broker with whom your Realtor is licensed, a real estate law firm, or a title company.

Money held in escrow is not accessible by the buyer or seller during the transaction process, until the conditions of the contract are met or not. This is an important safeguard which protects everyone in the transaction.

Tax Accountant

We strongly advise all non-resident buyers to invest a few hundred dollars to meet with an accountant in Florida who has a breadth of experience working with international clients, in addition to a tax accountant in your own country.

It’s important to understand your unique tax situation and make sure you are compliant on all aspects of tax law. In many cases the tax to pay may be zero, but the costs of not filing or defaulting may be much higher. Florida has some great tax benefits for residents and property owners, and it is also important you make sure you are getting all the breaks you may be entitled to, and paying tax intelligently.

Closing Agent

Title InsuranceThe closing agent is the person or company who conducts your closing. The closing agent can be one of two things: either a title company, or an attorney. There is typically not much difference in cost between using a title company or an attorney, and the costs for this person or company’s services are included in the title insurance fee. In fact around 70 percent of that fee (for properties under $1M) goes to the closing agent and is paid at closing.

In Conclusion, at risk of repeating ourselves!

A Realtor worth his or her salt will have a network of excellent relationships with all of the above professionals, and the experience to call in the right person for your specific needs. Once you have an excellent Realtor engaged as your buyer’s agent, you can trust that the professionals he or she recommends will handle everything with the expected level of transparency, professionalism, and efficiency.

We offer multiple resources to help you begin the buying process. Our starter kit (sign up in the sidebar) is a great first step, or our book Your Guide to Florida Property Investment is an informative guide which provides all the knowledge you need to buy a home or investment property in Florida. If you’re ready to find the perfect Realtor then please visit our Find a Realtor page to get connected with one of our expert team.

Find the Perfect Realtor

We understand the uniqueness of international buyers’ needs and have created a system to personally match you with a local realtor that speaks your language, understands your needs, and can hand pick properties to fit your goals.

Start Now

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