Q: How is property tax calculated in Broward?
A: Approximately 2% of your assessed value price and an assessment of local property values of similar residences will set your annual property taxes. If you qualify for the Homestead Exemption, whereby your residence must be your primary residence, you will be required to have a driver license and voters registration card. Visit www.bcpa.net for a home buyer tax estimator.
Q: Tell me about the local school system?
A: The state of Florida takes its school systems seriously. Please visit www.floridasmart.com, go to “Education and School Directory”, to view everything from public to private school ratings as well as links to ratings and assessment sites. You can also visit www.browardschools.com for a school locater.
Q: How long does it take from preparing a sales contract to closing on a residence?
A: This will depend upon whether you are making a cash purchase or financing your luxury residence. Your mortgage adviser will let you know how long to allow for your loan to be processed. A cash transaction can close, subject to title search, within two days. The average settlement time is 30 days from contract to closing. Remember, that if you are purchasing a condominium you may need to allow time for the condominium approval process. It is customary to provide 10% deposit on the contract price upon an effective contract.
Q: Do I need to be present in Fort Lauderdale for the closing?
No, I will work diligently with you from contract to closing and attend the closing on your behalf. Documentation can be sent by courier from the attorney or title company to your address for completion accordingly. In addition, with today’s technology, documents can be sent electronically, as well.
When transacting to purchase a property in South Florida you are entering into a legal transaction. It is recommended that you have independent legal representation to review your contract and documentation accordingly. Alternatively, you may be working with a title company that has an attorney on staff.
Q: Should I purchase a condominium or a single family residence?
A: This is a very personal choice and really depends upon the type of Florida lifestyle you seek and the amount of time you will spend in your residence.
Boaters often appreciate the convenience of private boat dockage at their residence. If you are looking for minimal maintenance and resort amenities then one of Fort Lauderdale’s condominium communities or a hotel-condominium may be appropriate.
A: Ideally, the length, beam and draft of your vessel are important. Also some waterways are not appropriate for sailboats. Please consider your boating requirements as you start your search. For instance the width of a catamaran will prohibit you from living on certain waterways. Each residential area will have setback requirements for boats. By working with a knowledgeable luxury real estate specialists you will avoid any problems or frustrations and find the perfect dockage!
Be diligent when purchasing a condominium or townhouse with deeded dockage to verify the dock number and any rules/regulations that apply.
When is the main sales season? When can I get the best buy?
The seasons are becoming less defined as our population grows but typically the main season runs from the end of September/October to the end of April. This is also when most of our seasonal residents are in town escaping the colder climates both in the US and overseas.
Security is a priority to me as a buyer; please identify the gated and secured communities in the Fort Lauderdale area?
There are three options. For the ocean and beach enthusiast Sea Ranch Lakes is an oceanside community with a village atmosphere. Harbor Beach offers deepwater dockage close to the inlet, a private marina and access to a beach club. Bay Colony also offers deepwater canals and close proximity to the school system, major highways, shopping, etc.
Condominium communities have varying levels of security subject to the building.
As a Foreign National can I obtain financing in the US?
A 25 to 30% down payment will be required. Income documentation is not typically required with a 30% down payment. A US credit report will be obtained regardless of social security status or tax id number. Credit from the country of origin does not necessarily apply. All foreign national borrowers will be required to have a US bank account with an auto debit for mortgage payments.
What do I need to do to prepare for the hurricane season?
The hurricane season typically runs from June to November and South Florida residents are accustomed to preparing accordingly. Your house or condominium may have hurricane shutters or impact glass. If you are going to be away during the season you may wish to shutter the house. Your condominium community will have guidelines for residents in place.
Sophisticated weather tracking usually provides a few days notice for storms approaching.
The sales contract has a provision for obtaining appropriate insurance coverage, please review carefully and ask any specific questions.
If you are considering a condominium the community will have a blanket insurance policy which covers the building and exterior. You will be responsible for the interior and personal belongings.
I am very active outdoors, what does Fort Lauderdale have to offer?
With our seven miles of beaches and 165 miles of waterways, Fort Lauderdale is a water sports paradise. Known as the Venice of America, our waterways offer boat cruises both historic and recreational, water “buses” for downtown travel, gondola rides and personal recreational boating along the Intracoastal Waterway to the ocean. Over eighty city parks cover our county from neighborhood playgrounds to sprawling acreage offering tennis, field games, bike tracks and hiking trails. Nature seekers will enjoy canoeing, hiking, picnics, fishing, camping and RV parking at sites like Hugh Taylor Birch Recreation Center right on A1A across from the ocean. Western Fort Lauderdale opens to Everglades National Park and the Seminole Indian Reservation for wildlife expeditions, bird watching and airboat rides, to name a few. There are endless outdoor opportunities in this tropical locale.
Please tell me about the main cultural attractions.
Because of our outstanding, tropical climate, Fort Lauderdale enjoys year-round cultural events. The Broward Center for the Performing Arts, the Florida Grand Opera, and the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival are the crown jewels of our performing arts centers. Sport centers include tennis centers and the Fort Lauderdale Aquatic Complex which houses the Swimming Hall of Fame. Our beaches and parks are unsurpassed, attracting worldwide vacationers year-round. Visit www.sunny.org/visitors/ for a more in-depth search of available attractions.
I believe that a luxury condominium lifestyle is most appropriate for me, What do I need to know?
The following questions answer the most frequent concerns:
What are my responsibilities as a condominium owner?
There will be a set of rules and regulations for the condominium community you are considering. These will be given to you at the time of contract for your review within a specified time period. This time period is usually three days for resales and ten for new construction. It is important to please ask any questions OF your realtor and/or the condominium board at this stage. Outside of the rules and regulations you are free to enjoy your condominium which is easy to lock up and leave at any stage.
What about animals, the family pets?
Many of the newer condominiums allow most breed of dogs, there will be a wider choice with smaller dogs. There may be weight and size, possibly even breed, restrictions. Tell us what type of pets you have as you start your search to ensure the widest choice of pet friendly communities.
What does the condo fee include typically?
The maintenance fee is either paid monthly or quarterly. This preset amount will be disclosed to you at contract together with any assessments which are pending at that time. The fee will include the building management insurance, maintenance, pool maintenance, security, valet, exercise rooms and common areas, water, possibly cable. I would be happy to obtain a list for you of what is included.
Can I review the condominium financial records?
Yes, these records will be provided to you at the time of contract and are usually included with your Rules and Regulations package. Please review and ask any questions accordingly within the time period on your contract.
Is there a personal interview process involved?
The condominium approval process varies from community to community. You will be required to fill out an application for a background check into any criminal activity. A credit report may also be requested. After your interview (either in person or by telephone – subject to the community) you should be issued with a letter of approval which should be taken to the closing (and will be required by your mortgage lender).
Amy Vulpis is a full-time real estate professional with Balistreri Realty International, Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, FL who specializes in luxury waterfront property. She is dedicated to providing her clients with superior customer service. For any questions regarding buying, selling or leasing or more information on the South Florida Real Estate market contact Amy Vulpis, Realtor @ 954.591.4280 or visit http://www.amyvulpis.com/.