Your Florida vacation was a blast, you enjoyed every single minute and now you are missing the casual glass of wine next to the pool and watching the scenic sunset? The current buyers’ market opens the door for all your real estate dreams under the sun – even more so if you invest from Europe considering the significant difference between the Euro and the U.S. Dollar at this time.
Still – there are several things worthwhile thinking of before making the decision to buy a house in a foreign country, especially if you may not be completely comfortable with the language and think of contracts and business communication. A realtor who can deal with you in your own language is a big plus – several real estate professionals in the area are European, many are German – we are one example. Communication is a vital point in every transaction and mistakes or misunderstandings can lead to costly errors.
First of all: consider the important why’s and how’s: do you want to use the home to spend your own vacation under the Florida sun once or more times a year, do you plan to make the home available to family and friends or do strictly think of an investment and consider renting the home out to vacation guests? The next question is where you want your dream home located – are you a boater or do you prefer golfing. Also, did you consider the maintenance costs and the responsibility that comes with homeownership?
The most important thing to do is to choose a realtor who earns your trust. The realtor you select to make your dream come true should be experienced and qualified. A real estate professional who is a member of the Florida Association of Realtors (Zeichen einsetzen) has to adhere to a strict code of conduct and professional ethical standards, he or she has also to fulfill certain requirements regarding c continuing education to stay on top of the ever changing laws and regulations in the real estate market.
Once contact to a realtor of your choice is established you will have to make your wishes as clear as possible to enable your agent to look for the best deal out there that is matching your requirements. The MLS system (Multiple Listing System) is a real-time computerized system that presents all real estate on the market at any given time. Details and changes are readily available and can be used to pre-select homes that match your wish list. The pre-selection process does not necessarily require you presence in Florida – reports along with photos or even video can be exchanged via e-mail. Once you have selected one, two, or three homes that you would be really interested in buying the time to hop on a flight has come – now we need you here in person to look and feel your new home.
Once a decision has been made your realtor will take over and handle the negotiations for you in your best interest. The process of buying should be fun and easy and not stressful for you – a good agent will make buying your home a pleasurable memory for you. Once you have signed a contract and offered a price you will be required to make a good faith deposit to demonstrate that you are serious and mean business. Usually 5% of the asking price is sufficient. Your offer can of course – especially now in a buyer’s market – be under the asking price. The seller must now react: either they will accept your offer or they will counter your offer – your agent will assist you to determine the best and fairest deal for all parties involved.
A good agent will also advise you to have a home inspection done once the deal is signed. An independent inspector evaluates the home and all technical gadgets during a home inspection and gives a detailed report about defects. Usually the seller will pay for repairs up to a designated amount. The last step is the closing which is performed by a title company. With the closing the home is officially yours – the title company takes care of everything. Dealing with a shortsale or foreclosure is a little more difficult and much more risky for the prospective buyer – an experienced real estate agent will be able to assist you in a difficult process like this and will help you to get positive results. Financing has become a bit more challenging in the last couple of years but with a good credit score there is no problem; even foreign buyers who wish to finance in the U.S. do not usually encounter issues with financing. Still – everyone likes to see cash – a cash deal is the safest and easiest!
By the way – did you know that in Florida the seller has to pay for the realtors services, the buyer enjoys full service and attention having the seller pay for it – doesn’t that sound fabulous?
This post is also available in: German