Is Florida a good place to live? Plenty of people think so – the state ranks number three in net migration according to the U.S. Census Bureau, which means that it’s one of the top states for people to move to. It’s affordable, property taxes are low, and the weather is nice (aside from the occasional hurricane). Florida has many lively cities rich in culture, as well as quieter areas for those seeking a more sedate way of life. There’s a lot to do in Florida – with all the beaches, pools, golf courses, nightclubs, hiking trails, and theme parks, living there can feel like being on vacation every day.
But if you’re thinking of buying a house in Florida, you need to be aware of the drawbacks of both shopping for a home and living in Florida. For one thing, the state does experience extreme weather events and flooding. The housing market in Florida can be hot, especially in the winter when snowbirds are looking for their nests. Here’s what you need to know about buying a house in Florida.
Florida Often Bears the Brunt of Hurricanes
If you’re thinking about moving to Florida, extreme weather events might be the number one thing you’re concerned about. Florida’s location between the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean means it’s vulnerable to hurricanes, and these storms are getting stronger due to climate change. While hurricanes aren’t getting more frequent, per se, they are getting more dangerous and sequential storms are getting more likely.
With hurricanes comes flooding, so if you want to buy a house in Florida, you’re going to need to buy flood insurance. Before you commit to moving to Florida, check with your preferred insurance carriers to make sure they provide homeowners insurance to residents of Florida. Some companies no longer cover Florida homes due to the increasing frequency of strong storms and the flooding they cause.
If you’re considering buying a home in Florida, you should also be aware that the Florida coastline may look different in years to come thanks to rising sea levels. That’s something to consider before you purchase beachfront property in the state.
There’s No State Income Tax, but There Are Property Taxes
Floridians don’t have to pay state income tax, which may be one reason why the state is such a popular place to relocate to. However, you’ll have to pay property tax on your new home. The average Floridian homeowner pays 0.91 percent of his or her home’s value in property tax. Ask the seller for the previous year’s tax bill so you can estimate how much you’ll pay.
You Won’t Need a Real Estate Attorney
Unlike many states, you don’t need a real estate attorney to purchase a home in Florida. That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t use an attorney to buy Naples, FL real estate or any other real estate in Florida. Even in Florida, home purchase contracts and deeds are full of legalese that you might not understand. You might want to hire a lawyer anyway to make sure you’re getting the advice you need to make a wise investment. However, you’ll have to go out of your way to hire a real estate attorney in Florida, since they aren’t required during a home sale.
The Florida Real Estate Can Be Hot
It can be hard to buy a home in Florida simply because houses in the most desirable parts of the state don’t stay on the market long. The worst time to try and buy a house in Florida is in the winter, because that’s when all the retirees from up north are looking to buy their retirement homes. People tend to shop for their Florida vacation homes during the winter, too. You’ll need to be prepared to move fast when you find a Florida house you like.
You Might Qualify for a First-Time Homebuyer Program
Florida has a number of programs to help first-time homebuyers. The Florida First program allows qualifying borrowers to access federally backed loans with lower mortgage insurance costs than those that come with most federally backed loans, like Federal Housing Administration (FHA) loans. The Florida Hometown Heroes Housing Program provides closing cost and downpayment assistance to firefighters, law enforcement officers, teachers, healthcare workers, and child care workers, among other frontline employees. The Salute Our Soldiers Military Loan Program offers low rates on 30-year loans for veterans and active duty soldiers. The state also subsidizes a number of down payment assistance programs.
The Florida real estate market has a lot to offer, but if you’re thinking of buying a house in Florida, you need to know what to expect. As long as you know what you’re getting into, you can make yourself at home in Florida for the long haul.