Luxury Florida home.

11 Must-Read Tips Before Buying A House In Florida

Andrew Dehan6-Minute Read
UPDATED: March 30, 2023

There are plenty of reasons to think about buying a house in Florida. The Sunshine State is a magnet for anyone who loves warm weather and close proximity to some of the nation’s most beautiful beaches.

Florida is notably an attractive destination for tourists and home buyers alike. Because of its sunny weather, Florida brings in people from much colder climates. It’s a popular place to visit and retire. 

If you’re trying to decide where to live, Florida might be the perfect place for you. Read on to learn more about living in Florida.

Why Buy A House In Florida?

No matter if you’re a snowbird or a lifelong resident, Florida real estate can be a solid investment. You may be from the area and want to put down roots by owning a home or looking for a sunny place to move. Either way, it’s a great time to buy a house in Florida and if you own a piece of it, the value could rise as the state increases in popularity.

A Florida home can be a solid real estate investment even if you don’t live in it. Rental properties often have a great return on investment, and if you hire a property manager, you can pay them to maintain the property.

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What Are The Top Places To Buy A House In Florida?

Florida has many popular coastal communities. From the Gulf of Mexico in the west to the Atlantic Ocean in the east, you’re never far from the beach.

Rocket HomesSM has compiled a list of the top places to buy a house in Florida. Here are five of our top picks from that list.

Tampa, Florida skyline.

1. Tampa

Tampa is one of Florida’s greatest cities. Located on the Gulf Coast, Tampa has had a steady 1% – 2% growth rate over the past 30 years.

Its proximity to the ocean, plentiful jobs in healthcare and finance and its nearby tourist attractions make it a desirable place to live.

Tampa Real Estate Listings

Miami, Florida skyline.

2. Miami

Miami is the quintessential Floridian city. It’s the cultural and economic center of the state. Miami, and nearby Miami Beach, hold popular annual art events, like the Miami International Film Festival and Miami Fashion Week.

Miami’s population is 70% Hispanic or Latinx descent, with 34% of the city’s residents of Cuban origin. It shows in the thriving food and music culture of the city. People are attracted to Miami’s culture and location, with the U.N. projecting the Miami metro population to near 7 million people by 2030.

Miami Real Estate Listings

Miami Trend Report

Cape Coral, Florida aerial view.

3. Cape Coral

Cape Coral, located on the Gulf Coast, is the largest Florida city between Tampa and Miami. While the city is not as big as Miami or Tampa, its metro area population has grown at a yearly rate of around 5% for the past 20 years.

What makes Cape Coral a great investment is its growth in the younger population. According to the city’s 2020 Economic Development Guide, Cape Coral ranks third in the top U.S. cities where millennials are buying homes.

Along with the population growth, Cape Coral’s economic investments are making it a magnet for small businesses and developers. By buying a house in Cape Coral, you’re buying into a city with accelerating potential.

Cape Coral Real Estate Listings

Cape Coral Trend Report

Jacksonville, Florida skyline.

4. Jacksonville

The city of Jacksonville is the most populated city and the fourth most populated metropolitan area in Florida. It is the largest city by area in the contiguous United States, with 747 square miles of land.

Its location on the St. Johns River and the Atlantic Ocean have made it a growing port city and a center for trade and finance. Fortune 500 companies like Fidelity National Financial and CSX Corporation bring money to the area. Along with finance and trade, tourism and the military round out the diverse economy.

The U.N. projects steady growth in the Jacksonville metro area, making now a great time to buy a house there.

Jacksonville Real Estate Listings

Jacksonville Trend Report

St. Petersburg, Florida skyline.

5. Saint Petersburg

St. Petersburg is a historic Florida city located on the Pinellas peninsula between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico. The city’s largest employer is the independent investment bank, Raymond James, which is headquartered in the city.

The population of St. Petersburg has seen an uptick in the past 5 years, corresponding with the growth of nearby Tampa. Its vibrant art scene and Renaissance- and Mediterranean-style homes make St. Petersburg a great place to own a home.

St. Petersburg Real Estate Listings

St. Petersburg Trend Report

Tips For Buying A House In Florida

If you’re ready to buy a home in Florida, use these 11 tips to make sure you do it right.

1. Know The Real Estate Market

Timing is everything when buying, especially in Florida. It’s important to research the market you’re interested in. Know whether it’s a buyer’s or seller’s market. If certain areas are outside of your budget, look for up-and-coming neighborhoods.

Most of the state of Florida is an attractive real estate market with a lot of properties for sale, but also a lot of interested buyers. Depending on the city and neighborhood, the market may be competitive.

2. Use A Trusted Florida Real Estate Agent

Finding a credible REALTOR® is important. The right agent will take your preferences, goals and budget, and line them up with the right properties for you. Need to find the right real estate agent? Work with a Rocket Homes Verified Partner Agent.

3. Explore Available Financing Options

Depending on the county you move to, you may be eligible for more financing options. First-time home buyer resources like down payment assistance, a subsidized mortgage loan program and favorable mortgage rates are all financing options you may qualify for.

4. Understand Florida Property Taxes

Florida is a Homestead state. The Florida Homestead Exemption allows homeowners to claim up to a $50,000 exemption on their property taxes. This applies only to primary residences. The state’s average effective property tax rate is 0.98%. Property taxes vary by county.

5. Factor Weather Into Insurance Projections

If you’re relocating to Florida, it’s important to consider weather events like hurricanes when projecting homeowners insurance. Standard homeowners insurance doesn’t cover flooding, so you’ll need to take out separate flood insurance or risk devastating losses due to a hurricane or other natural disasters.

6. Learn The Laws For Ocean Front Property

If you’re buying oceanfront property, learn the laws about your land. Certain vegetation cannot be removed. You may not be able to use light during turtle nesting season.

On the beach, anything below the mean high tide line belongs to the state. If you don’t want people to use it, you may be able to restrict access to your property.

7. Ask About Deed Restrictions

Deed restricted communities are common in Florida. These have a homeowners association (HOA) that creates and enforces rules. The HOA’s job is to make sure the neighborhood stays in good shape so home values don’t decline.

Before buying, understand any restrictions and requirements you may have to adhere to.

8. Prepare To Pay Higher Closing Costs

Closing costs in Florida are among the highest in the country. Buyers and sellers have many different fees to pay at closing. To avoid the high closing costs, a buyer could pay in cash, negotiate that the seller pays all or a portion of the costs or see if you can roll the closing costs into your mortgage.

9. Find Out Who Pays For Title Insurance

The party commonly responsible for paying title insurance depends on the county where you’re purchasing property. The seller pays for title insurance in 60% of the counties in Florida, but in counties like Miami-Dade and Broward, the buyer pays for title insurance.

10. Know Your Seller

Many sellers in Florida are not residents. This can make transferring a title trickier than normal. Learn about the seller and keep open communication with them throughout the home buying process.

11. Save For A Big Down Payment

Florida is home to beautiful beaches, exotic wildlife and a lot of foreclosures. Because of this, private mortgage insurance for conventional loans is not available or may be more expensive in many areas. This means you may need a 20 – 25% down payment on a single-family home to be approved.

The Bottom Line On Buying Florida Property

Florida is an attractive destination and is growing in population. There are a number of vibrant cities to choose from, each with its own culture and identity that appeals to vacationers and home buyers alike.

Whether you’re interested in purchasing an investment property or a primary residence, it’s important to know what to expect when buying a new home.

Tired of dreaming of white sand beaches and ready to purchase? Apply for a home loan through our friends at Rocket Mortgage®. You can also give them a call at (833) 326-6020.

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Andrew Dehan

Andrew Dehan is a professional writer who writes about real estate and homeownership. He is also a published poet, musician and nature-lover. He lives in metro Detroit with his wife, daughter and dogs.