Buyers Section

Homestead exemption

In Florida, $25,000 of the assessed value of your home is exempt from real estate taxes, but you have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the exemption. First you much have the title or record to your property as of January 1, and reside on the property. You have to be a legal and permanent resident of Florida as of January 1. When applying for the exemption status, bring along a copy of your deed or tax bill, and a Florida county voters registration or Declaration of Domicile. If you drive, you must also bring your Florida driver's license and automobile registration. New applications must be submitted in person at the appraiser's office, but renewals may be done by mail. For further information, consult the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Real Estate Taxes

All residents are subject to county taxes, but each city or special district levies taxes within its boundaries. City, special-district, and county taxes are combined in one tax bill. Real estate taxes are assessed as of January 1 each year. They are due and payable on November 1 and become delinquent if not paid before April 1 of the following year. Florida law holds the taxpayer responsible for receiving and paying tax bills in full. For additional information contact the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Establishing Residency

To establish residency, you may register to vote or file a Declaration of Domicile, which is an affidavit available at the CountyCourthouse. Filing one copy with the Circuit Court provides a record of your intention to make Florida your home. Simply moving to the State does not guarantee legal residency. For more information contact the County's Clerk of Circuit Court.

What is Homestead Exemption?
Florida Law entitles every person, who has legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains it as his/her permanent residence, to apply for a $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. A partial exemption may apply if the ownership of the applicant is less than 100%.

Am I eligible to file?
You must meet the following requirements as of January 1st:

Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of County
Residency on the property
Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida
Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card)

When do I file?
The deadline to file an application for exemption is March 1st. Under Florida law, failure to file for any exemption by March 1st constitutes a waiver of the exemption privilege for the year.
Regular filing is January 2nd - March 1st.
Pre-filing for the coming year is March 2nd - December 31st.

How do I file?
Take copies of the required documentation to your Exemption Department:Generally at the County or City Court House

Inspections

Home inspections and what they should cover
Siding: Look for dents or buckling
Foundations: Look for cracks or water seepage
Exterior Brick: Look for cracked bricks or mortar pulling away from bricks
Insulation: Look for condition, adequate rating for climate (the higher the R value, the more effective the insulation is)
Doors and Windows: Look for loose or tight fits, condition of locks, condition of weatherstripping
Roof: Look for age, conditions of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts
Ceilings, walls, and moldings. Look for loose pieces, dry wall that is pulling away.
Porch/Deck: Loose railings or step, rot
Electrical: Look for condition of fuse box/circuit breakers, number of outlets in each room.
Plumbing: Look for poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots or corrosion that indicate leaks, sufficient insulation
Water Heater: Look for age, size adequate for house, speed of recovery, energy rating.
Furnace/Air Conditioning: Look for age, energy rating. Furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency; the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs. However, other factors such as payback period and other operating costs, such as electricity to operate motors.
Garage: Look for exterior in good repair; condition of floor—cracks, stains, etc.; condition of door mechanism.
Basement: Look for water leakage, musty smell.
Attic: Look for adequate ventilation, water leaks from roof.
Septic Tanks (if applicable): Adequate absorption field capacity for the percolation rate in your area and the size of your family.
Driveways/Sidewalks: Look for cracks, heaving pavement, crumbling near edges, stains.
www.REALTOR.org/realtormag Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® . Copyright 2003. All rights reserved

Buying a waterfront home

Things to consider when buying any waterfront vacation home.

First off, congratulations at looking to Brevard County for a possible permanent or vacation home. The good news about Brevard Countyfrom an investment angle are:

There is only so much waterfront or Coastal property available.
Brevard County has strict environmental laws that affect building permits. This means there are only so many homes and always will be a limited number of homes here.

Is there a view?
Views really do matter. An unobstructed Ocean view adds as much as 60% to the value of a home per the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Proximity to Golf courses or a park can add as much as 20% to a homes value. This is per an article by a much published author named Soren Anderson, a writer from Manchester College.

Consider the recreational activities…
The What and the When.
For example in a Ski resort area, your options are limited due to weather considerations and the total amount of activities available is definitely less.
*InBrevard County, about the only thing you cannot do year round are mountain climbing and white water rafting.

Boating access and controlling depth
Is there direct boating access on the property? If so, how large a boat can you have behind the home? This is determined by what we in the Keys call controlling draft or depth. For example: If a boat is under 30ft in most cases 3 ft draft is OK. Draft means...what is the lowest water depth you have to go through to get to open or deep water.If you have a sailboat or 50 ft boat you will need deeper draft such as 5ft.
Now ..obviously if you have a 50 ft sailboat behind your home, the canals or waterways have to provide you with turn-around room.
If the access is deep draft, then expect prices to go up. If there is no water access at the home or the draft is for kayaks only, in most cases expect a drop in price.
If there is no direct water access...how far is the nearest boat ramp or is there a boat slip available? If so, is it included and what is the draft out of the boat slip.
So the boating issue has a very direct effect on pricing here. Neighborhoods with bigger canals and deep draft boating are generally home to the Million dollar and plus homes.

Nearby Medical and shopping options
These are very important considerations. If there is an accident, how far away is a hospital?

If you need groceries or restaurants, what is nearby?
Oftentimes vacation properties can be secluded and don’t offer easy access to the above. At first being remote can seem as desirable, but in the end it can grow old quickly.
This also affects home values by the way. If you can have the vacation feel and recreation, yet have amenities nearby, the prices go up.

How much room do you need?
If you own a home with nearby recreation and sightseeing, expect people to come out of the woodwork. Everyone will be your friend. Larger homes, with more bedrooms, a 3/2 and up always rent better. So if you can, get a home with extra space.

Type of Construction or is it built to last.
The age of the home will determine the building code that it was built to. In the Keys newer homes have to be built to strict specs as to wind handling characteristics.
Also, look for low maintenance homes.

Finding renters
Does the home have good rental potential and is there local rental management available?
This is a very important consideration, both for long term and short term vacation rentals.
Remember, even if you don’t want to rent, this can be an important consideration for a future buyer or if your situation changes.

Home maintenance.
Are there nearby electricians, plumbers, appliance stores and general contractors.
If anything does happen, the prices to have things repaired or replaced will be less if there is competition and service people are nearby.
Check with the REALTOR you are talking with to get a Vendor list of who the Real Estate company uses to service their rentals and offices.

Rules and Regulations
Make sure you are clear on and have copies of any deed restrictions or condo docs as to what is allowed and what is not. Too many rules can be appetizing for some but a turnoff for future buyers. For example if you have children who will want to use the property in the future as a college break, lots of communities can prohibit it.

 

Building a home

Buying a lot and building your dream home may be the way to go. The cost of building will vary widely from $50.00 per square to $300.00 and up.
Basically lots in Florida as far as price goes will run as follows.
Most expensive

Open-water—Atlantic or Gulf
Open-water Inter-Coastal or other Rivers-Lakes
Canal Homes with Open water views (Bay or Atlantic-Gulf)
Canal homes-Boat able and quick access to open-water
Dry Lots—price widely varies based on the community and area.
As of September 2005, per an MLS search, the prices for vacant lots started at.
Melbourne, $45,000
Melbourne Beach, $375,000
Palm Bay, $40,000
Cocoa, $28,900
Cocoa Beach-there were none available
Titusville, $275,000
There is one problem in finding a custom builder right now and that is that most of the builders are really jammed since the last hurricane and also in trying to keep up with the explosive growth this year (2005) in building new homes, apartments.

Permit prices and restrictions will vary in each community. Generally the more environmentally sensitive the area is, the more restrictions there are in getting a permit. (Since the water is one of the main reason people want to be here, the state and the communities want to keep it that way.

Important:
Regarding pricing. The closer to the water and the deeper the boating,(boat draft-a 50 foot requires deeper water and wider canals than a flats boat) the higher the prices.
Another thing to do is find out what flood zone the property is in per FEMA maps and then talk to a local insurer on how that will affect your rates. Do this ahead of time.
#In all cases if you find a lot that you like, my suggestion is that you ask for a letter of build ability from the local zoning commission as a clause in your sales contract. Always-always, talk with the county yourself to get the update on the laws.

So, yes, you can build here and it’s done all the time, but make sure you ask all the necessary questions and if you can, get it in writing.

See the Biz directory for builders if that’s the way you want to go. If you want a new home contact a residential agent.

REGARDING BUILDING
Ask the REALTOR that you pick to help find you a good builder that can respond. Another consideration is to buy a lot and build later (be careful here as building codes and laws can change due to density controls) I would first see how long it takes to get a building permit and then if you get one how long you can wait. In the Keys when you get a permit there is a limit of a couple years during which time you have to at least start the process (bring electric to the site-do a septic check etc)
Since all this varies widely make sure you get all the answers, Probably best to go the the permit department and have a discussion.
Due to Florida’s stricter building codes, please check out http://www.brevardcounty.us/buildingcode/home/
Link to the Florida 2004 building code draft
http://www2.iccsafe.org/florida_building_code/

Zoning ordinances For Zoning Information, Contact the Broward County Community Code Compliance Division at 954-468-3434
The purpose of the Building Code is to protect the safety, health, and general welfare of the citizens through structural strength, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, and safety to life from hazards attributed to the built environment. This is accomplished through the implementation of building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical codes along with various state and local codes and standards

Information on Complaints Against Contractors:
Don't get nailed! Many citizens in Florida have fallen victim to dishonest, unlicensed or improperly licensed contractors. Florida Statute 489 requires all construction contractors to hold a valid contractor's license prior to engaging in contracting. Always require that a contractor show you a valid contracting license before you sign a contract. Some indications that a contractor may be unlicensed are: the contractor requests a large deposit or all of the money up front before any work has commenced, the contractor asks you to pull a "homeowner permit", the contractor pressures you to sign a contract "today or I can't give you this special price." To verify licensure of a contractor, you may call the State of Florida Dep't of Professional Regulation at 941 338-2373 or search their contractor licensing database. The City requires proof of licensure from contractors who pull permits for properties located in the City, so be sure to require that the contractor pull the permit in his name, not your name

So always play it safe and do it right. This will certainly help you in the Insurance area also---The extra structural costs for doing it better really pay off if a Storm hits and or you decide to sell

With regard to making any decisions, be sure to check with local and state permit and zoning authorities and a REALTOR and/or a Real Estate attorney

To find contractors, builders and other business vendors see the business directory for the area (Under real Estate section) or contact a local REALTOR for help.

*Regarding, building and building permits, be sure to check with the County and city building departments as the laws change.

 

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