I was permanently disabled in an accident over ten years ago. The nature of my physical condition is much improved with warm, temperate weather. Once our children were off to college, my husband and I began our search for a vacation/second home for me in the state of Florida. As luck would have it, it was an incredible time for us to buy.
With Kampong Java Road you can easily see what’s the most tips and several property options so that you get the best condos or vacation homes in Florida.
Here’s are some pointers you might find useful if you, too, want your own place in the Sunshine State.
- Determine if you want to buy a vacation home/condo/investment property, or a ‘family’ /primary home. Your decision will impact where you will look and what prices are associated with each. Just because Florida has one of the top foreclosure rates in the country still doesn’t mean that folks are literally giving their homes away. There are incredible deals out there, but lock in on exactly what you want, and focus on that. (If you decide later that you like living in Florida year round, for instance, then you can buy that primary residence.)
- Familiarize yourself with Florida’s main cities. Jacksonville is a ‘working’ town, as is Tampa, for the most part. Miami, Orlando, and Fort Lauderdale are more oriented towards vacation homes, although there are obviously businesses located there as well. Keep in mind that the weather fluctuates throughout the state. Jacksonville actually has a four-season climate. Miami can be incredibly hot for pretty much of the entire year. Tampa is a bit more moderate but can get chilly on occasions as well. Jacksonville and Tampa are often considered more ‘working class’, while Orlando, Miami and Ft. Lauderdale have a much more definite ‘temporary’ vacationers’ vibe. You’ll also find more of a Spanish influence in Miami and Ft. Lauderdale. Also – do you want to be close to the ocean, or would you prefer a bay breeze? Waterfront proximity will definitely impact your price range selections. If you wilt in very warm weather, rule out Miami. I’d suggest that you Google the main cities in which you’re interested to get as much on-line information as you can about each. Send away for visitors/potential residents packages from the Chambers of Commerce on those cities in which you’re most interested. (You’ll also most likely get a follow-up telephone call from Chamber members as well, particularly realtors.)
- Do your homework on those areas which were most impacted by the initial, massive foreclosures. Punte Gorda, for instance, may seem to be an area that almost too good to be true for a vacation home. In most cases, it is. More than one Floridian has told me that Punta Gorda was ‘Ground Zero’ for the state’s foreclosure / bankruptcy initial boom. (It’s also quite isolated, far away from airports, and consists pretty much of a bunch of mid and high rise condos and some – but not much – adjacent shopping.) Do you want to actually spend your hard-earned money on a $25K condo in an area where unfinished developers’ condos are being actually razed by the city because they, as big, empty, vacant buildings, are potential hurricane threats to surrounding properties? You may WANT the seclusion and privacy of the area. Just be certain to do your homework on ANY area before you sign on the dotted line.
- . Work with an aggressive realtor. While the market has changed dramatically, most realtors haven’t kept pace with the new ‘laws of the jungle’ out there. Don’t work with a part-time realtor, work with one who depends upon their commissions to make a living. Your realtor should know not just the DETAILS of a short sale, pre-foreclosure or bank owned listing and sale, but also be WILLING to go the extra mile to make a deal happen. Short sales can take months, going into a year or more, to actually close. (We were involved in a short sale that had lost its first buyer because the sale was taking so long. We slid into that buyer’s place. We, too, tired of waiting months and months and months, with no word from the bank regarding our offer. We slid out of that contract and purchased our new home two months ago – and that short sale now has a third buyer patiently waiting in line. They may have a long wait: the property has been listed now for over a year, and there’s no end in sight as to when the bank holding the mortgage will respond to whichever buyer is now in line.)
We worked with such a fantastic, hard-working agent that we ended up buying our Florida villa sight unseen, based on his recommendations and our own homework. We are thrilled beyond words with both the price we paid, and the property itself.
- . Understand how a short sale works. Basically, you’re buying (or trying to buy) a property for less money than the owner owes to its mortgage holder(s). The short sale is subject to the lender’s approval. Banks and mortgage companies – especially in Florida and those holding paper on Florida properties – are overwhelmed, understaffed and, frankly, in no great hurry to dump the properties. Why? You may think it would be in the lender’s best interest to get rid of a house when its owner hasn’t made a mortgage payment in nearly two years, wouldn’t you? Not really – the loss that the bank will take in accepting a substantially lesser amount than that of the mortgage balance will reflect negatively on their bottom line. There’s really no such thing as a ‘short’ time frame for a short sale.
- Your best bet? Buy directly from the bank once it’s taken over the property. If you’re working with a really good realtor, he or she will have ties to bank-owned properties, or actually specialize in bank-owned listings. (A note of caution: A number of investment-minded speculators purchase ‘options’ on short-sale properties. They’ve made a deal with the bank to sell the property for a set amount of money. You won’t know if there’s an option on a property until you make an offer – and a third party steps in, acting on behalf of (but not really) the bank. Make sure that the property you’re interested in is owned free and clear by the LENDER itself.
- Be sure to have a full housing inspection done before you settle on a property, especially if you’re buying a bank owned or short-sale property. Very often, these units have been vacant or untended for very long periods of time. We dealt in one case with a realtor who had a nice short-sale condo unit – which she had never seen, even after getting the listing. We had our fabulous agent go take a look at it – and he found out that it not only had a leaking roof (water damage! MOLD! MOLD!), but also that the water heater had burst, and the entire unit had flooded. Mold under the carpeting as well, and beginning to creep up on the walls – make sure that your housing inspector does a separate mold test as part of the overall housing inspection. Mold is a terrible problem in most of Florida, and one that’s difficult, time-consuming and expensive to remediate.
- Probably the most important tip? Be a CASH BUYER. Both banks and owners are eager to deal with cash buyers, since it eliminates the normal step of the buyer having to qualify for a mortgage – something that’s become increasingly difficult to do in particular for a Florida condo. If you can’t pay fully in cash, as we did, try to at least have 50% of the purchase price available in the form of cash.