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10 Common Mistakes People Make When Buying a House in Florida

Are you buying a house in Florida? Before you sign the contract, make sure you avoid these common home buying mistakes. Trust me, you don’t want to end up buying a home that you will regret later on. Below are 10 common mistakes people make when buying a house in Florida. 

Home Buying Mistakes in Florida

1. Not Doing the Home Inspection

One big mistake people make when buying a house in Florida is to skip the home inspection. They hope to save a few hundred dollars by not hiring a professional inspector and believe that they can visually inspect the property on their own.  

However, this is a big mistake. A home inspection is crucial to make sure you know exactly what you’re getting into. Without one, there may be issues that aren’t immediately obvious, and you don’t want to be hit by a major repair that you weren’t expecting after closing on the house.

Woman in Front of Florida Condos

2. Not Doing a Pest Inspection

Given Florida’s subtropical climate, homeowners often have to deal with a plethora of pests, such as cockroaches, termites, and carpenter ants. That’s why you never buy a house in Florida without a thorough pest inspection. 

A subterranean termite infestation is a hidden issue that is not easily detectable by an untrained eye. To identify termite problems, you need to hire a professional inspector. 

Trust me, you don’t want to live in a home with a termite problem, especially considering how common termites are in South Florida.

3. Not Using a Real Estate Agent

Many Florida home buyers make a big mistake by trying to handle the home buying process alone and not using a real estate agent. They believe that a buyer’s agent isn’t necessary, since their role is to just open doors. It may seem like a hassle to coordinate with an agent to view homes, but this misconception couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Having an agent represent you is crucial when buying a house in Florida. Your agent will help you analyze the market, develop a pricing strategy for your offer, and negotiate on your behalf. Negotiating directly with the seller’s agent is the last thing you want to do, since they have the seller’s best interest in mind. 

During negotiations, you may accidentally reveal information that puts you at a disadvantage, such as your reasons for moving, your timeline, or your budget. Therefore, it’s best to have a real estate agent represent you to avoid making such mistakes.

Your agent will also become your confidant and guide you through the emotional journey of buying a home. In Florida, you don’t have to pay extra for a buyer’s agent, so why not get one? Don’t make the mistake of trying to go it alone in the home buying process. 

4. Reveal Pre-Approval Amount

A mistake that some people make when they buy a house in Florida is to reveal their budget. For example, when attending an open house, some buyers get carried away with chit-chat and accidentally disclose their pre-approval amount to the seller’s agent. This can put them at a disadvantage during the negotiation process. That’s why it’s best to have a buyer’s agent represent you so you don’t have to be talking directly with the seller’s agent. 

5. Not Checking If It’s a Flood Zone

Hurricanes, flooding, and storm surges are common in Florida. Before buying a house in Florida, you need to check to see if your home is in a flood zone. 

If it is, find out which flood zone designation it falls under. If you’re in a Flood Zone X, the likelihood of flooding is less than if you’re in a designated Flood Zone AE. Either way, you should buy flood insurance. 

It’s a good idea to understand exactly which flood zone designation you’re in and what this means to you. FEMA updates its flood zone map from time to time, so make sure you check the most current map before buying the house. Checking whether your home is in a flood zone should be at the top of your list.

6. Not Reading the HOA rules

It’s important to read the Homeowner’s Association rules and regulations (HOA) before buying a house in Florida. Many HOAs have strict rules that may not work for you. 

For example, you can’t just modify your home since most HOAs have rules concerning the exterior aesthetics of homes. If you plan to build a fence around your yard, check the HOA regulations first. You might not be allowed to have one.   

Also, some HOAs have rules regarding renting out your property. If you’re planning to rent out your condo, make sure there are no restrictions in the HOA governing rentals. Some HOAs don’t allow rentals, while others limit the duration of renting your unit out. It’s important to check the HOA guidelines to make sure they match your needs.

7. Not Checking the HOA Financials

When buying a home in Florida, it’s important to thoroughly scrutinize the HOA financials to ensure financial stability. With the recent passage of the Surfside Bill, it’s more critical than ever for HOAs to maintain robust finances. 

This law mandates that condos over 30 years old (or 25 years old if they’re located near the coastline) undergo a rigorous inspection and to make sure there are enough funds for the necessary repairs. 

If you make the mistake of buying a home in a condo association that has financial issues and an insufficient reserve, you’ll be faced with a hefty assessment!

8. Not Calculating Property Taxes 

One common mistake that homebuyers in Florida make is not calculating the property tax, which can result in a shockingly high real estate tax. 

Often, homebuyers assume that their property tax will be the same as the previous owner’s without realizing that their property will be reassessed based on the purchase price. 

This usually means a higher tax bill that catches new homeowners off guard. It’s a common scenario where people are taken aback by the amount they have to pay in real estate taxes, causing them to regret their buying their Florida home.

9. Not Checking Homeowner’s Insurance

Another mistake that Florida homebuyers make is not checking the homeowner’s insurance for the home they are buying. Florida has the highest home insurance cost in the country, approximately 3.5 times the national average, and the premiums are continuing to rise. 

The main reasons behind this surge are the hurricanes, rising sea levels, and increased fraud and litigation, which have made Florida a risky place for insurance companies. That’s why it’s important to find out how much homeowner’s insurance will cost you before you buy a house in Florida. This way, you can get a complete picture of your overall expenses and make an informed decision before buying.

10. Not Adding in Maintenance Costs

A mistake that homebuyers make in Florida is they don’t find out how much home maintenance is. Unless you’re living in a condo where there’s a homeowner’s association that takes care of your monthly maintenance expenses, you must do the math to determine your monthly expenses. 

Ask the seller about the utility bills and the monthly landscaping expenses. You should also check the age of the roof, HVAC, water heater, and appliances to assess whether they’re approaching the end of their life. If so, you will need to take into account the cost of replacing them.

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