10 Top Tips to Buying Property in Florida
Florida, the sunshine state, attracts thousands of tourists each year who come for the tropical climate and the world class visitor attractions including beautiful beaches, golf courses and the home of a certain cartoon mouse.
For many Florida makes an attractive location to purchase an overseas property and it’s not hard to see why. There are certain hurdles to overcome before you can sit back and sip your freshly pressed orange juice though.
The first thing to realise is that it is difficult to move to the United States unless you have citizenship or are married to a US citizen. It is possible to move there on what is called an ‘Investor Visa’ but for that to be a reality you have to invest over $500,000 in a business that employs a certain number of US citizens.
The difficulties in moving full time to the states means that for many couples looking to retire abroad, the number one choice tends to be Europe. However Florida is a fantastic destination for people looking for a holiday home that can also provide a good rental yield.
I refer to Florida as a ‘thinkers move’. The volume of tourists, the year round climate and all the tourist attractions means that the rental market is consistently strong.
If you feel the pull of Florida and want to own a property there, here are the things to consider:
1. Plan, Plan and Plan
Compared to moving to Europe there is more research that you should undertake to make sure you get the most out of your dream of living in Florida. What are you trying to get out of your move? If it’s rental yield you need to be aware of work out how many weeks you need to rent in order to secure an income. It’s also important to buy in the right location to get the best out of the rental potential of your property. Visit online ex-pats sites and forums for the local community and ask questions! People love to talk about their experiences.
2. Use a trusted agent
Make sure you are working with a member of the (British based) AIPP who are accredited property specialists that you can trust as they have signed up to obey a strict code of conduct. You can search for a member using the button at the top of this page. If they don't have property in the area you are looking, they will introduce you to a qualified Real Estate Professional who can help you.
3. Get on the ground
No matter how much ‘desk research’ you do, nothing beats getting over to Florida to see for yourself. Plan at least a couple of viewing trips to see and feel the area for yourself. In Florida residential property is zoned, and if you want to rent you need to be sure that you are buying in an area zoned for vacation use.
4. Determine your budget
The amount of dollars at your disposal will obviously determine where and what you can afford. My experience is that to maximise rental potential it is best to look for a property with a pool, and to be as close as you can get to one of the major attractions. Bargains are becoming fewer and farther between as the market has recovered significantly after the effects of the financial crisis of 2008.
5. Consult a currency specialist
The international currency market is volatile and fluctuations of the value of the Pound against the Dollar can mean your budget won’t stretch as far as you might want, causing stress and disappointment. A currency specialist can guide you through the process and advise on ways to minimise the risks involved in any transaction.
6. Location, Location, Location
Think practically. Florida is a paradise but one that has, and does, lay in the path of hurricanes. Buy in central Florida and you greatly reduce the risk of this being a real issue because the chances of being hit are lower and the force of a hurricane diminishes as soon as it hits land. Buy near the beach and sometimes property insurance is hard to find and if you can insure your property it will be with high premiums. Don’t just be told ‘don’t worry, it will be fine’! Check your history on hurricane landing points as these things move in cycles. I lived in Florida for 4 years and didn’t experience anything stronger than a tropical storm!
7. Use an independent lawyer
Whether you are buying land, a resale property or off-plan you should use the services of a legal professional. They will act on your behalf and ensure you do not sign anything you do not understand and that all the sellers obligations are fulfilled. Lawyers come at a cost, but legal fees in litigation are more costly!
8. Employ a good property management firm
Florida is 9 hours away on a plane from the UK with a 5 hour time difference. It’s imperative that you have somebody that you trust looking after and managing the property for you while you are not there. Luckily there is lots of choice, but again, do your research. Don’t necessarily take the first company recommended to you. There are horror stories so tread carefully. Look for approved, trusted, accredited companies.
9. Consider ongoing costs
Manicured lawns, community security, perfect patios. None of this is cheap. In comparison with other destinations the running costs of your property may well be higher in Florida, you need to find the right balance to make sure you can sustain the fees based on your rental income.
10. Think of this as a business
You should be aware of all your buying options, the regulations and restrictions, the risks as well as the rewards.
“If you plan thoroughly upfront, you can secure a sound investment in the sunshine state. Owning a property in Florida can be one of the most rewarding property experiences for you and your family.”
Jordan Tilley is CCO of Clear Currency – the AIPO’s currency exchange partner. He has owned property in Florida for over 10 years and has advised hundreds of customers preparing to find their dream home in the Florida sunshine. Visit the Clear Currency page on this site here or go direct by clicking the button below.
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