If you are thinking of buying a home in southwest Florida, here are some basic things you need to know about this specific area. The home buying process itself can be stressful, but knowing ahead of time what you are getting into will help.
Homeowner insurance – Insurance rates vary by age of home, size of home, conditions of home, and location of home. Insurance is more expensive if you live near any type of water – pond, lake, river, Gulf. Insurance is more expensive if home was not built to current hurricane standards. You can get discounts the home qualifies for by having a wind mitigation inspection done at the same time as your home inspection. Discounts are available for building features that reduce damage during high wind events. Overall discounts include things such as age of home, style of roof, how close the home is to a body of water, how close to a fire hydrant, how the roof is tied down, if the home has hurricane shutters or impact resistant windows, frame or block home, etc. If the home is in a flood zone, the insurance company will require a flood elevation certificate. That can be obtained by paying a survey company to prepare it. To check Flood Zones go to www.floodsmart.gov and type in the address of the property. It will give you the flood zone, rates, and insurance companies.
Homestead exemption – The state of Florida has individual and family exemptions. The most common exemption that people qualify for is the homestead exemption. Every person who owns and resides on real property in Florida on January 1 and makes the property his or her permanent residence is eligible to receive a homestead exemption up to $50,000. To see a list of exemptions go to the Florida Department of Revenue web site at http://dor.myflorida.com/dor/property/taxpayers/exemptions.html.
Property Taxes – A home buyer should not rely on the seller’s current property taxes as the amount of property taxes that the buyer may be obligated to pay in the year subsequent to purchase. A change of ownership or property improvements triggers reassessment of the property that could result in higher property taxes. If you have any questions concerning valuation, contact the county property appraiser’s office for information. The home you are interested in purchasing may be homestead. Homesteading caps the tax assessments on the home during ownership. MLS records do not necessarily reflect current tax assessments. To apply for homestead or to read through answers to frequently asked questions, visit the Charlotte County Property Appraiser web site at http://www.ccappraiser.com/.
Pest Control – Bugs are a natural part of Florida. The most common problems are termites, carpenter ants, fire ants, and spiders. For any home you live in within this area you would either need to spray your home for pests or hire a pest control company to do it for you quarterly. There are several plans to choose from. When you purchase a home you can get a termite inspection for free. Check with a Realtor for recommendations.
Utilities – Some homes have well and septic, others have city water and sewer, and some even have city water and septic. Prices vary by county. FPL (Florida Power and Light) is the power company used in this area – www.fpl.com. The Charlotte County Utilities web site is http://www.charlottecountyfl.com/CCU/.
Moving to Florida Guide – For information on moving to and living in Florida check out this web site http://www.stateofflorida.com/Portal/DesktopDefault.aspx?tabid=40. It contains topics on driver’s license and motor vehicle registration, employment, real estate, Florida taxes, schools, residency, weather, cost of living comparison, facts on Florida and more.
Pets in Florida – You must use heart guard and flea and tick control on your pet. Be aware of bugs, snakes and alligators that may harm your animal. There are a lot of ticks here certain times of the year. Another thing about Florida is that there are many poisonous plants and palm trees – http://www.dog-health-guide.org/dogpoisonousplants.html. There are pet friendly parks and beaches in the area. Go to this article to read more http://www.examiner.com/article/southwest-florida-pet-friendly-parks-and-beaches.
Airports – There are several airports in the area. Southwest Florida International Airport in Ft. Myers – http://flylcpa.com/, Sarasota Bradenton International Airport – http://www.srq-airport.com/, Punta Gorda Airport – http://www.flypgd.com/, and Venice Municipal Airport – http://www.venicetravelplanner.com/orientation/venice_airport.html.
Beaches – Some of the beaches in the area include Englewood Beach, Boca Grande Beach, Manasota Key Beach, Nokomis Beach and Port Charlotte Beach Park. For more information on beaches, nature and outdoors visit the Charlotte Harbor Visitor and Convention Bureau web site at http://www.charlotteharbortravel.com/cms/index.php?id=17.
A Realtor can explain the home buying process to you and answer any questions you may have. Although home prices have been increasing in the southwest Florida area, there are still many deals and home options to choose from including single family homes, condos, villas, townhouses and mobile homes. Do your research. Find a good Realtor and happy home hunting.