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11 Must-Read Tips Before Buying A House In Florida

Andrew Dehan6-Minute Read
September 04, 2020

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 beaches.

If you’re moving from another state, you’re not the only one. As of 2018, Carolina Demography reports that less than 36% of the people who live in Florida were born there. 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 interested in buying a house in Florida, keep reading to learn more.

Why Buy A House In Florida?

No matter if you’re a snowbird or a townie, Florida real estate can be a solid investment. Whether you’re from the area and want to put down roots by owning a home or looking for a sunny place to move, it’s a great time to buy a house in Florida. People are flocking to 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 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 Homes has compiled a list of the top places to buy a house in Florida. Here are five of our top picks. For the full list, visit the Rocket Homes Florida page.

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. In 2018 it was listed by Forbes as one of the best cities in Florida to own rental property.

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

Tampa Trend Report

Miami, Florida skyline.

2. Miami

Miami is the quintessential Floridan 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 UN projecting the Miami metro population to near 7,000,000 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 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 military round out the diverse economy.

The U.N. projects steady growth in the Jacksonville metro area, making now a great time 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. It’s vibrant art scene and Renaissance- and Mediterranean-style homes make Saint Petersburg a great place to own a home.

Saint Petersburg Real Estate Listings

Saint Petersburg Trend Report

Tips For Buying A House In Florida

If you’re read 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, looking 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 real estate agent is important. The right agent will take your taste, 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 HomesSM 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 grants and programs like down payment assistance, 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.

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 requirement you may have to adhere to.

8. Prepare To Pay Higher Closing Costs

Closing costs in Florida are among the highest in 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 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 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 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 a popular destination and is growing in population. Whether you’re buying an investment property or a primary residence, knowing what to expect going in will impact your outcome.

Whether its Jacksonville or Miami, know what makes each area unique. Follow our 11 tips to make sure your home buying experience is a good one.

Want to read more about the home buying process? Check out more home buying articles on Rocket HomesSM.

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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.