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What You Need to Know When Buying a House in Florida

Various states have various laws and standard practices when it comes to purchasing a house. In Florida, here are the most important things you have to know:

Using an Agent

When buying a house, condo, or any other home in Florida, find a highly regarded real estate agent who can help you find properties and tackle all the convoluted procedures involved in the transaction. A real estate agent offers a whole array of advantages, from community market knowledge to negotiating prowess and more. And the best news is, they won’t cost you anything. The seller often pays the entire real estate commission (5% to 6% of the house sale price, divided between your agent and the seller’s).

Seller Disclosure

State law in Florida states that sellers should disclose any fact or condition pertaining to their property that makes a considerable impact on the value of such property and which others cannot typically take notice of. Seller disclosures are crucial for you as a buyer, since sometimes, just looking at a property will not tell you certain problems its owner may have encountered while living there. On top of that, sellers of houses constructed prior to 1978 should comply with federal Title X disclosures that pertain to lead-based paint and hazards.

Home Inspections

However, buyers should not solely rely on the seller’s disclosures, but instead hire an independent home inspector to verify the content of the seller’s disclosure. Buyers often base their offers on a satisfactory inspection report ensuring the absence of material defects other issues like electrical, HVAC or plumbing defects, termites and other pests, erosion and the like.

Real Estate Purchase Agreements

A purchase agreement is a legal document which details each enforceable material term and condition surrounding your real estate transaction. It must be signed by both the buyer and the seller, and include an offer to buy or sell, an acceptance of the offer, the sale price, and an accurate and sufficient property description.

Title Issues

A buyer has to obtain a title search from a title company prior to purchasing a home. The title company scans public records and other sources for liens, easements or other encumbrances or title restrictions that have a bearing on the property. Also consider getting a title insurance policy to protect the title against adverse claims by any third party, or any issues on the title that the title search may have missed.

Working With a Lawyer

Finally, as opposed to other states, Florida does not require home buyers to involve a lawyer in the transaction. Yet even if it’s not required, you may just have to get one at a particular point in the process–for example, if you are buying a property in a planned unit development that has complicated CC&Rs, or if you are buying a house jointly with other parties and need help preparing your co-buyer agreement.
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