First Time Buyers Mortgage application Tips

When you have an aspiration about proudly owning your own house and applying for home financing then you might be a bit nervous at the present moment. While having your own property will be the American dream the high prices involved can be mind-boggling. Furthermore, most financiers may well be more occupied with generating a return than with helping you locate a house that will fit your income. Below are steps you can take to properly make an application for your first mortgage loan.

Obtaining a mortgage used to be straightforward. People would compare the costs and interest rates on houses they wanted, and when they found a financial institution they were comfortable with, they'd make a hefty down payment after which move in. Today important things have changed, and going over the quantity of possibilities can be extremely traumatic. One thing you might want to do before shopping for a residence is to educate yourself.

First Mortgage loan Application form Actions

The first thing you really need to do is take a look at current income. Simply how much do you make each year? How secure is your own job? Don't forget, if you attempt finding a mortgage the standard way, it could take 15 to three decades to pay it off, and if you get in back of on your obligations, you could lose your home and have your credit ruined. If you can't find the money for a home, it's best not to move into one unless you can. This will prevent you from agreeing to debt you can't manage to pay for.

How Much Could You Give?

If you think that you can afford a mortgage the next matter you should choose is how much could suit your budget. Lenders have a tendency to give you mortgages which are more than you can afford, and this is essential to don't forget. In addition to the cost of the home loan itself, you will have to pay taxes, insurance and other expenses in addition. These costs has to be included in your monthly expenses.

Submit an application Directly Or By Way Of A Brokerage service?

Once you start hunting for a mortgage loan you may confront two types of loan merchants; mortgage brokers and direct loan providers. The direct lenders are the those who have got the income to lend you. It seems in the long run the individual's who decide if you will be approved for a home. The mortgage loan officer acts as a intermediary, venturing out and finding direct lenders who can provde the lowest price.

Get The Paperwork In Order

Once you've found mortgage finance by way of a direct loan service or real estate agent the next step is to submit an application. There are numerous of items you have to have to submit the application form and it'll help when you've got some supporting paperwork. You will need to provide details about your wages, amount of work, as well as your assets. They will want to know what other loans or store cards you might have.

Once these facts has been provided, the financial institution will look for your credit reports. In addition, they're going to need to see your bank statements and check slips from a job. You might also must demonstrate to them tax information and data about your insurance. Should your credit is good, an appraiser will be hired to make certain the home is evaluated at the loan amount that will be presented to you.

Buying a Waterfront Home

Things to consider when buying any waterfront vacation home.First off, congratulations at looking to the Keys for a possible vacation home. The good news about the Keys from an investment angle are:

1. There is only so much waterfront or Coastal property available.

2. The Keys have strict environmental laws that affect building permits. This means there are only so many homes and always will be a limited number of homes here. One big reason for this is there is just ONE Highway in and out of the Keys. (US1) If there is an emergency, people need to have the ability to leave quickly and so for this reason alone, the Keys will never be California. The other main environmental consideration is the water quality. The Keys main attraction are water sports and Monroe County is going to make sure that our waters are clean and usable.

To consider when purchasing any waterfront vacation home and how the Keys measure up:Is there a view?

Views really do matter. An unobstructed Ocean view adds as much as 60% to the value of a home per the Journal of Real Estate Finance and Economics. Proximity to Golf courses or a park can add as much as 20% to a homes value.  This is per an article by a much published author named Soren Anderson,  a writer from Manchester College.Consider the recreational activities…

The What and the When.

For example in a Ski resort area, your options are limited due to weather considerations and the total amount of activities available is definitely less.

*In the Keys, about the only thing you cannot do year round are mountain climbing and white water rafting.Boating access and controlling depth

Is there direct boating access on the property? If so, how large a boat can you have behind the home? This is determined by what we in the Keys call controlling draft or depth. For example: If a boat is under 30ft in most cases 3 ft draft is OK. Draft means...what is the lowest water depth you have to go through to get to open or deep water.If you have a sailboat or 50 ft boat you will need deeper draft such as 5ft.

Now..obviously if you have a 50 ft sailboat behind your home, the canals or waterways have to provide you with turn-around room.

If the access is deep draft, then expect prices to go up. If there is no water acess at the home or the draft is for kayaks only, in most cases expect a drop in price.

If there is no direct water access...how far is the nearest boat ramp or is there a boat slip available? If so, is it included and what is the draft out of the boat slip.

So the boating issue has a very direct effect on pricing here. Neighborhoods with bigger canals and deep draft boating are generally home to the Million dollar and plus homes.

Nearby Medical and shopping options

These are very important considerations. If there is an accident, how far away is a hospital?

In the Upper Keys we have Baptist hospital in Tavernier which is an excellent option.

If you need groceries or restaurants, what is nearby?

Oftentimes vacation properties can be secluded and don’t offer easy access to the above. At first being remote can seem as desirable, but in the end it can grow old quickly.

This also affects home values by the way. If you can have the vacation feel and recreation, yet have amenities nearby, the prices go up.

On thing about the upper Keys is that Miami and South Beach are just about an hour away and World famous Key West, 2 hours.How much room do you need?

If you own a home with nearby recreation and sightseeing, expect people to come out of the woodwork. Everyone will be your friend. Larger homes, with more bedrooms, a 3/2 and up always rent better. So if you can, get a home with extra space. Type of Construction or is it built to last.

The age of the home will determine the building code that it was built to. In the Keys newer homes have to be built to strict specs as to wind handling characteristics.

Also, look for low maintenance homes.

Lots of homes in the Keys are made of concrete block and have pea-rock for yards and the outside is stucco over concrete or frame. This means lower maintenance, which is very important for an absentee owner.Finding renters

Does the home have good rental potential and is there local rental management available?

This is a very important consideration, both for long term and short term vacation rentals.

Remember, even if you don’t want to rent, this can be an important consideration for a future buyer or if your situation changes.Home maintenance.

Are there nearby electricians, plumbers, appliance stores and general contractors.

If anything does happen, the prices to have things repaired or replaced will be less if there is competition and service people are nearby.

Check with the REALTOR you are talking with to get a Vendor list of who the Real Estate company uses to service their rentals and offices.

Rules and Regulations

Make sure you are clear on and have copies of any deed restrictions or condo docs as to what is allowed and what is not. Too many rules can be appetizing for some but a turnoff for future buyers. For example if you have children who will want to use the property in the future as a college break, lots of communities can prohibit it.In conclusion, the upper Keys offer good investment potential from an appreciation aspect and income potential from renters.

Regarding Appreciation.

Because Miami and Ft Lauderdale are a short drive away, people there look to the Keys as a getaway. Think New York and the Jersey shore. We sell a majority of homes to people from these areas.

Income potential.

About 50% of the vacation renters in the Keys are from Florida. They come here because the Keys are a completely different experience. This means as Florida grows (it is on pace to be the 2nd largest state in the USA by 2010) we will have more people looking to vacation here. This will drive prices up and make rental occupancy rates climb even more.

For more information please contact me…I look forward to helping you find the right situation.

BUILDING A HOME IN THE FLORIDA KEYS...

Buying a lot and building your dream home may be the way to go. The cost of building will vary widely from $50.00 per square to $300.00 and up.

Basically lots in Florida as far as price goes will run as follows.

Most expensive

• Open-water—Atlantic or Gulf

• Open-water Inter-Coastal or other Rivers-Lakes

• Canal Homes with Open water views (Bay or Atlantic-Gulf)

• Canal homes-Boatable and quick access to open-water

• Dry Lots—price varies widely, based on the community and area. *As to canal lots and how boat ability affects prices.

If the depth of the canal and the width allows for a 50ft boat or sailboat-it will be more expensive than a lot on a canal that is shallow and usually not as wide. The bigger the boat, the more room needed to turn around.*Access to open water is another factor that influences prices.If you’re only minutes (half hour) to good fishing-diving, expect to pay more.

Also homes on shorter canals will generally have better water quality. In the Keys we call these swimming canals. The tides flush them out easier and the water is clear.

As of September 2005, per an MLS search,Vacant lots-Location-Number available and starting price.

• Key Largo, 89 starting at $30,000

• Marathon, 446, starting at $35,000

• Key West 20, starting at $275,000 For prices on the individual keys please contact me. The prices will vary depending on depth of boating etc—see information below.Permit prices and restrictions will vary in each community. Generally the more environmentally sensitive the area is, the more restrictions there are in getting a permit. (Since the water is one of the main reason people want to be here, the state and the communities want to keep it that way.Important:Regarding pricing. The closer to the water and the deeper the boating,(boat draft-a 50 foot requires deeper water and wider canals than a flats boat) the higher the prices.Another thing to do is find out what flood zone the property is in per FEMA maps and then talk to a local insurer on how that will affect your rates. Do this ahead of time.#In all cases if you find a lot that you like, my suggestion is that you ask for a letter of build ability from the local zoning commission as a clause in your sales contract. Always-always, talk with the county yourself to get the update on the laws.So, yes, you can build here and it’s done all the time, but make sure you ask all the necessary questions and if you can, get it in writing.See the Biz directory for builders if that’s the way you want to go. If you want a new home contact a residential agent.REGARDING BUILDING Ask the REALTOR that you pick to help find you a good builder that will respond quickly. Another consideration is to buy a lot and build later (be careful here as building codes and laws can change due to density controls) I would first see how long it takes to get a building permit and then if you get one how long you can wait. In the Keys when you get a permit there is a limit of a couple years during which time you have to at least start the process (bring electric to the site-do a septic check etc)Since all this varies widely make sure you get all the answers, Probably best to go the the permit department yourself and have a discussionMonroe County permitsYou will probably need a building permit if you are:

• Building a new building or Adding to an existing building

• Renovating an existing building

• Demolishing an existing building

• Constructing a prefabricated structure

• Moving or installing a mobile home

• Installing/Modifying other miscelaneous structures

• including fences, pools, decks, fireplaces, etc. You probably also need a permit if you are working on your structure's:

• Electrical System

• Plumbing System

• Heating or Air Conditioning

• Ventilation Systems State and or Municipal Licenses required

• Plumbing

• Electrical

• Asbestos Abatement

• Roofing Building Departments

• MIDDLE KEYS OFFICE

• 2798 Overseas Highway

• Suite 300

• Marathon, FL 33050

• 305289-2501

• fax: 305 289-2515

• UPPER KEYS OFFICE:

• 88800 Overseas Highway

• Tavernier, FL 33070

• 305852-7100

• fax: 305 852-7103

• LOWER KEYS OFFICE:

• Juvenile Justice Building

• Room 2030

• 5503 College Rd.

• Key West, FL 33040

• 305295-3990

• fax305 295-3994

Florida Building Codes

The purpose of the Building Code is to protect the safety, health, and general welfare of the citizens through structural strength, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, and safety to life from hazards attributed to the built environment. This is accomplished through the implementation of building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical codes along with various state and local codes and standardsInformation on Complaints Against Contractors:

Don't get nailed! Many citizens in Florida have fallen victim to dishonest, unlicensed or improperly licensed contractors. Florida Statute 489 requires all construction contractors to hold a valid contractor's license prior to engaging in contracting. Always require that a contractor show you a valid contracting license before you sign a contract. Some indications that a contractor may be unlicensed are: the contractor requests a large deposit or all of the money up front before any work has commenced, the contractor asks you to pull a "homeowner permit", the contractor pressures you to sign a contract "today or I can't give you this special price." To verify licensure of a contractor, you may call the State of Florida Dep't of Professional Regulation at 941 338-2373 or search their contractor licensing database. The City requires proof of licensure from contractors who pull permits for properties located in the City, so be sure to require that the contractor pull the permit in his name, not your nameSo always play it safe and do it right. This will certainly help you in the Insurance area also---The extra structural costs for doing it better really pay off if a Storm hits and or you decide to sell#The information above is based on my experience in the Florida keys, which is highly regulated due to environmental concerns. With regard to making any decisions, be sure to check with local and state permit and zoning authorities and/or a Real Estate attorney

FLORIDA HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION...

New 2008 property tax Reforms:

In a January 2008 ballot measure, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that introduced several changes to our state's property tax system. The four changes may affect the amount of tax you owe:

Increased Homestead Exemption: If you're currently receiving a $25,000 homestead exemption on your property taxes, you will automatically be upgraded to a $50,000 exemption this year. If you are a homeowner and do not currently receive the exemption, you may file your application in person along with a $15 late fee, through mid-September.

Save Our Homes Portability Cap: You may now trasfer up to $500,000 of your property tax cap to a new home when you move. To take advantage of this benefit, you must file a Homestead Exemption and Portability Application.

Tangible Personal Property Tax Exemption: If you're required to file a Tangible Personal Property Tax Return, you're entitled to a $25,000 exemption on business equipment.

Non-Homestead Cap: Beginning next year, those properties not eligible for a homestead exemption may apply to receive a 10% cap on property tax increases.

Homestead Exemption Overview:

FILING PERIOD JANUARY 1 – MARCH 1

Florida law requires that application be made by March 1st to be eligible for the $25,000 Homestead Exemption. Only new applicants or those who had a change of residence need apply. Automatic renewals are mailed in January each year.

In Florida, $25,000 of the assessed value of your home is exempt from real estate taxes, but you have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the exemption. First you much have the title or record to your property as of January 1, and reside on the property. You have to be a legal and permanent resident of Florida as of January 1. When applying for the exemption status, bring along a copy of your deed or tax bill, and a Florida county voters registration or Declaration of Domicile. If you drive, you must also bring your Florida driver's license and automobile registration. New applications must be submitted in person at the appraiser's office, but renewals may be done by mail. For further information, consult the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Real Estate Taxes

All residents are subject to county taxes, but each city or special district levies taxes within its boundaries. City, special-district, and county taxes are combined in one tax bill. Real estate taxes are assessed as of January 1 each year. They are due and payable on November 1 and become delinquent if not paid before April 1 of the following year. Florida law holds the taxpayer responsible for receiving and paying tax bills in full. For additional information contact the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Establishing Residency

To establish residency, you may register to vote or file a Declaration of Domicile, which is an affidavit available at the CountyCourthouse. Filing one copy with the Circuit Court provides a record of your intention to make Florida your home. Simply moving to the State does not guarantee legal residency. For more information contact the County's Clerk of Circuit Court.

What is Homestead Exemption?

Florida Law entitles every person, who has legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains it as his/her permanent residence, to apply for a $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. A partial exemption may apply if the ownership of the applicant is less than 100%.

Am I eligible to file?

You must meet the following requirements as of January 1st:

Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of County

Residency on the property

Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida

Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card)

When do I file?

The deadline to file an application for exemption is March 1st. Under Florida law, failure to file for any exemption by March 1st constitutes a waiver of the exemption privilege for the year.

Regular filing is January 2nd - March 1st.

Pre-filing for the coming year is March 2nd - December 31st.

How do I file?

Take copies of the required documentation to your Exemption Department:Generally at the County or City Court House

HOME INSPECTIONS...

Inspections-what to expect

Siding: Look for dents or buckling

Foundations: Look for cracks or water seepage

Exterior Brick: Look for cracked bricks or mortar pulling away from bricks

Insulation: Look for condition, adequate rating for climate (the higher the R value, the more effective the insulation is)

Doors and Windows: Look for loose or tight fits, condition of locks, condition of weatherstripping

Roof: Look for age, conditions of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts

Ceilings, walls, and moldings. Look for loose pieces, dry wall that is pulling away.

Porch/Deck: Loose railings or step, rot

Electrical: Look for condition of fuse box/circuit breakers, number of outlets in each room.

Plumbing: Look for poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots or corrosion that indicate leaks, sufficient insulation

Water Heater: Look for age, size adequate for house, speed of recovery, energy rating.

Furnace/Air Conditioning: Look for age, energy rating. Furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency; the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs. However, other factors such as payback period and other operating costs, such as electricity to operate motors.

Garage: Look for exterior in good repair; condition of floor—cracks, stains, etc.; condition of door mechanism.

Basement: Look for water leakage, musty smell.

Attic: Look for adequate ventilation, water leaks from roof.

Septic Tanks (if applicable): Adequate absorption field capacity for the percolation rate in your area and the size of your family.

Driveways/Sidewalks: Look for cracks, heaving pavement, crumbling near edges, stains.

www.REALTOR.org/realtormag Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® . Copyright 2003. All rights reserved

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A CHANGING MARKET...

Taking advantage of a changing marketReal estate is a local issue.

Since the real estate climate in the Keys varies from subdivision to Island, it is important for you to know and understand how all the pricing fluctuations work here.

In addition, conditions can also change quickly, so you need the most up-to-date information available to make a well-informed decision. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, contact me for an overview of current market conditions. I can determine the value of your existing home or help you estimate the cost of a home in an area you may be considering.Over the past five years, the United States real estate market has experienced record sales and price appreciation.

The real estate boom has been especially strong in the South East, with home values doubling and even tripling in some cities. Real estate is cyclical. In some areas, particularly those that have seen annual appreciation rates of 20 percent and more a year, the real estate market is cycling back to more normal conditions.

The normalizing of home prices is a natural part of the real estate cycle. It’s also healthy for the market, serving to rebalance supply and demand, and to bring prices more in line with what consumers can afford. Remember that housing markets are all local. At the height of the real estate boom, some areas of the country experienced annual appreciation rates in just the low single digits. And even in regions that are seeing home prices moderate today, there are properties in highly desirable neighborhoods that continue to receive multiple offers. What’s important is how to make the best possible real estate deal in your market. That’s where I can help. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, here are some strategies that will help make your real estate transaction more successful. Tips for buyers

Now is a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are low, and buyers have more properties to choose from, so there’s room for negotiation. If you play it smart, it’s the perfect time to buy that house you’ve had your eye on. Here are a few strategies for getting the most for your money. Know the local market

With the housing market in transition and prices fluctuating, it is important to understand what’s going on locally. Prices in some neighborhoods are being reduced; others are as hot as ever. I can do a market analysis of the communities you’re interested in and provide you with information on homes that meet your criteria. I will also look at comparable residences to determine the appropriate offer to make to the seller. In a changing market, it’s important that the data you look at is current. Properties that sold six months ago may not represent the value of a comparable home on the market today.Identify what you want

The good news about a moderating market is that there are more homes to choose from. Buyers have the luxury of being specific about what they’re looking for. Now is the time to strongly consider that Keys getaway.. Be ready to buy

While more homes are on the market than a year ago, attractively priced homes are still selling quickly. Make sure you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and have a home inspector lined up. If you find a home you just love, don’t wait too long for the seller to reduce his price. It’s better to get a fairly priced deal than miss out on the home of your dreams. One of the strongest benefits I offer buyers is my ability to negotiate on your behalf. Depending on the local market, we may be able to get price reductions and other concessions from the seller. I’ll work with you to identify areas in which we can negotiate so you get the greatest real estate value for your dollar.

.

Building a Home In the Keys

Buying a lot and building your dream home may be the way to go. The cost of building will vary widely from $50.00 per square to $300.00 and up.

Basically lots in Florida as far as price goes will run as follows.

Most expensive

• Open-water—Atlantic or Gulf

• Open-water Inter-Coastal or other Rivers-Lakes

• Canal Homes with Open water views (Bay or Atlantic-Gulf)

• Canal homes-Boatable and quick access to open-water

• Dry Lots—price varies widely, based on the community and area. *As to canal lots and how boat ability affects prices.

If the depth of the canal and the width allows for a 50ft boat or sailboat-it will be more expensive than a lot on a canal that is shallow and usually not as wide. The bigger the boat, the more room needed to turn around.*Access to open water is another factor that influences prices.If you’re only minutes (half hour) to good fishing-diving, expect to pay more.

Also homes on shorter canals will generally have better water quality. In the Keys we call these swimming canals. The tides flush them out easier and the water is clear.

As of September 2005, per an MLS search,Vacant lots-Location-Number available and starting price.

• Key Largo, 89 starting at $30,000

• Marathon, 446, starting at $35,000

• Key West 20, starting at $275,000 For prices on the individual keys please contact me. The prices will vary depending on depth of boating etc—see information below.Permit prices and restrictions will vary in each community. Generally the more environmentally sensitive the area is, the more restrictions there are in getting a permit. (Since the water is one of the main reason people want to be here, the state and the communities want to keep it that way.Important:Regarding pricing. The closer to the water and the deeper the boating,(boat draft-a 50 foot requires deeper water and wider canals than a flats boat) the higher the prices.Another thing to do is find out what flood zone the property is in per FEMA maps and then talk to a local insurer on how that will affect your rates. Do this ahead of time.#In all cases if you find a lot that you like, my suggestion is that you ask for a letter of build ability from the local zoning commission as a clause in your sales contract. Always-always, talk with the county yourself to get the update on the laws.So, yes, you can build here and it’s done all the time, but make sure you ask all the necessary questions and if you can, get it in writing.See the Biz directory for builders if that’s the way you want to go. If you want a new home contact a residential agent.REGARDING BUILDING Ask the REALTOR that you pick to help find you a good builder that will respond quickly. Another consideration is to buy a lot and build later (be careful here as building codes and laws can change due to density controls) I would first see how long it takes to get a building permit and then if you get one how long you can wait. In the Keys when you get a permit there is a limit of a couple years during which time you have to at least start the process (bring electric to the site-do a septic check etc)Since all this varies widely make sure you get all the answers, Probably best to go the the permit department yourself and have a discussionMonroe County permitsYou will probably need a building permit if you are:

• Building a new building or Adding to an existing building

• Renovating an existing building

• Demolishing an existing building

• Constructing a prefabricated structure

• Moving or installing a mobile home

• Installing/Modifying other miscelaneous structures

• including fences, pools, decks, fireplaces, etc. You probably also need a permit if you are working on your structure's:

• Electrical System

• Plumbing System

• Heating or Air Conditioning

• Ventilation Systems State and or Municipal Licenses required

• Plumbing

• Electrical

• Asbestos Abatement

• Roofing Building Departments

• MIDDLE KEYS OFFICE

• 2798 Overseas Highway

• Suite 300

• Marathon, FL 33050

• 305289-2501

• fax: 305 289-2515

• UPPER KEYS OFFICE:

• 88800 Overseas Highway

• Tavernier, FL 33070

• 305852-7100

• fax: 305 852-7103

• LOWER KEYS OFFICE:

• Juvenile Justice Building

• Room 2030

• 5503 College Rd.

• Key West, FL 33040

• 305295-3990

• fax305 295-3994

Florida Building Codes

The purpose of the Building Code is to protect the safety, health, and general welfare of the citizens through structural strength, stability, sanitation, adequate light and ventilation, and safety to life from hazards attributed to the built environment. This is accomplished through the implementation of building, plumbing, mechanical and electrical codes along with various state and local codes and standardsInformation on Complaints Against Contractors:

Don't get nailed! Many citizens in Florida have fallen victim to dishonest, unlicensed or improperly licensed contractors. Florida Statute 489 requires all construction contractors to hold a valid contractor's license prior to engaging in contracting. Always require that a contractor show you a valid contracting license before you sign a contract. Some indications that a contractor may be unlicensed are: the contractor requests a large deposit or all of the money up front before any work has commenced, the contractor asks you to pull a "homeowner permit", the contractor pressures you to sign a contract "today or I can't give you this special price." To verify licensure of a contractor, you may call the State of Florida Dep't of Professional Regulation at 941 338-2373 or search their contractor licensing database. The City requires proof of licensure from contractors who pull permits for properties located in the City, so be sure to require that the contractor pull the permit in his name, not your nameSo always play it safe and do it right. This will certainly help you in the Insurance area also---The extra structural costs for doing it better really pay off if a Storm hits and or you decide to sell#The information above is based on my experience in the Florida keys, which is highly regulated due to environmental concerns. With regard to making any decisions, be sure to check with local and state permit and zoning authorities and/or a Real Estate attorney

FLORIDA HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION...

New 2008 property tax Reforms:

In a January 2008 ballot measure, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that introduced several changes to our state's property tax system. The four changes may affect the amount of tax you owe:

Increased Homestead Exemption: If you're currently receiving a $25,000 homestead exemption on your property taxes, you will automatically be upgraded to a $50,000 exemption this year. If you are a homeowner and do not currently receive the exemption, you may file your application in person along with a $15 late fee, through mid-September.

Save Our Homes Portability Cap: You may now trasfer up to $500,000 of your property tax cap to a new home when you move. To take advantage of this benefit, you must file a Homestead Exemption and Portability Application.

Tangible Personal Property Tax Exemption: If you're required to file a Tangible Personal Property Tax Return, you're entitled to a $25,000 exemption on business equipment.

Non-Homestead Cap: Beginning next year, those properties not eligible for a homestead exemption may apply to receive a 10% cap on property tax increases.

Homestead Exemption Overview:

FILING PERIOD JANUARY 1 – MARCH 1

Florida law requires that application be made by March 1st to be eligible for the $25,000 Homestead Exemption. Only new applicants or those who had a change of residence need apply. Automatic renewals are mailed in January each year.

In Florida, $25,000 of the assessed value of your home is exempt from real estate taxes, but you have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the exemption. First you much have the title or record to your property as of January 1, and reside on the property. You have to be a legal and permanent resident of Florida as of January 1. When applying for the exemption status, bring along a copy of your deed or tax bill, and a Florida county voters registration or Declaration of Domicile. If you drive, you must also bring your Florida driver's license and automobile registration. New applications must be submitted in person at the appraiser's office, but renewals may be done by mail. For further information, consult the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Real Estate Taxes

All residents are subject to county taxes, but each city or special district levies taxes within its boundaries. City, special-district, and county taxes are combined in one tax bill. Real estate taxes are assessed as of January 1 each year. They are due and payable on November 1 and become delinquent if not paid before April 1 of the following year. Florida law holds the taxpayer responsible for receiving and paying tax bills in full. For additional information contact the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Establishing Residency

To establish residency, you may register to vote or file a Declaration of Domicile, which is an affidavit available at the CountyCourthouse. Filing one copy with the Circuit Court provides a record of your intention to make Florida your home. Simply moving to the State does not guarantee legal residency. For more information contact the County's Clerk of Circuit Court.

What is Homestead Exemption?

Florida Law entitles every person, who has legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains it as his/her permanent residence, to apply for a $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. A partial exemption may apply if the ownership of the applicant is less than 100%.

Am I eligible to file?

You must meet the following requirements as of January 1st:

Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of County

Residency on the property

Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida

Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card)

When do I file?

The deadline to file an application for exemption is March 1st. Under Florida law, failure to file for any exemption by March 1st constitutes a waiver of the exemption privilege for the year.

Regular filing is January 2nd - March 1st.

Pre-filing for the coming year is March 2nd - December 31st.

How do I file?

Take copies of the required documentation to your Exemption Department:Generally at the County or City Court House

HOME INSPECTIONS...

Inspections-what to expect

Siding: Look for dents or buckling

Foundations: Look for cracks or water seepage

Exterior Brick: Look for cracked bricks or mortar pulling away from bricks

Insulation: Look for condition, adequate rating for climate (the higher the R value, the more effective the insulation is)

Doors and Windows: Look for loose or tight fits, condition of locks, condition of weatherstripping

Roof: Look for age, conditions of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts

Ceilings, walls, and moldings. Look for loose pieces, dry wall that is pulling away.

Porch/Deck: Loose railings or step, rot

Electrical: Look for condition of fuse box/circuit breakers, number of outlets in each room.

Plumbing: Look for poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots or corrosion that indicate leaks, sufficient insulation

Water Heater: Look for age, size adequate for house, speed of recovery, energy rating.

Furnace/Air Conditioning: Look for age, energy rating. Furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency; the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs. However, other factors such as payback period and other operating costs, such as electricity to operate motors.

Garage: Look for exterior in good repair; condition of floor—cracks, stains, etc.; condition of door mechanism.

Basement: Look for water leakage, musty smell.

Attic: Look for adequate ventilation, water leaks from roof.

Septic Tanks (if applicable): Adequate absorption field capacity for the percolation rate in your area and the size of your family.

Driveways/Sidewalks: Look for cracks, heaving pavement, crumbling near edges, stains.

www.REALTOR.org/realtormag Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® . Copyright 2003. All rights reserved

TAKING ADVANTAGE OF A CHANGING MARKET...

Taking advantage of a changing marketReal estate is a local issue.

Since the real estate climate in the Keys varies from subdivision to Island, it is important for you to know and understand how all the pricing fluctuations work here.

In addition, conditions can also change quickly, so you need the most up-to-date information available to make a well-informed decision. If you’re thinking of buying or selling a home, contact me for an overview of current market conditions. I can determine the value of your existing home or help you estimate the cost of a home in an area you may be considering.Over the past five years, the United States real estate market has experienced record sales and price appreciation.

The real estate boom has been especially strong in the South East, with home values doubling and even tripling in some cities. Real estate is cyclical. In some areas, particularly those that have seen annual appreciation rates of 20 percent and more a year, the real estate market is cycling back to more normal conditions.

The normalizing of home prices is a natural part of the real estate cycle. It’s also healthy for the market, serving to rebalance supply and demand, and to bring prices more in line with what consumers can afford. Remember that housing markets are all local. At the height of the real estate boom, some areas of the country experienced annual appreciation rates in just the low single digits. And even in regions that are seeing home prices moderate today, there are properties in highly desirable neighborhoods that continue to receive multiple offers. What’s important is how to make the best possible real estate deal in your market. That’s where I can help. Whether you’re looking to buy or sell a home, here are some strategies that will help make your real estate transaction more successful. Tips for buyers

Now is a great time to buy a home. Interest rates are low, and buyers have more properties to choose from, so there’s room for negotiation. If you play it smart, it’s the perfect time to buy that house you’ve had your eye on. Here are a few strategies for getting the most for your money. Know the local market

With the housing market in transition and prices fluctuating, it is important to understand what’s going on locally. Prices in some neighborhoods are being reduced; others are as hot as ever. I can do a market analysis of the communities you’re interested in and provide you with information on homes that meet your criteria. I will also look at comparable residences to determine the appropriate offer to make to the seller. In a changing market, it’s important that the data you look at is current. Properties that sold six months ago may not represent the value of a comparable home on the market today.Identify what you want

The good news about a moderating market is that there are more homes to choose from. Buyers have the luxury of being specific about what they’re looking for. Now is the time to strongly consider that Keys getaway.. Be ready to buy

While more homes are on the market than a year ago, attractively priced homes are still selling quickly. Make sure you’re pre-approved for a mortgage and have a home inspector lined up. If you find a home you just love, don’t wait too long for the seller to reduce his price. It’s better to get a fairly priced deal than miss out on the home of your dreams. One of the strongest benefits I offer buyers is my ability to negotiate on your behalf. Depending on the local market, we may be able to get price reductions and other concessions from the seller. I’ll work with you to identify areas in which we can negotiate so you get the greatest real estate value for your dollar.

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Homestead Exemptions

New 2008 property tax Reforms:

In a January 2008 ballot measure, Florida voters approved a constitutional amendment that introduced several changes to our state's property tax system. The four changes may affect the amount of tax you owe:

Increased Homestead Exemption: If you're currently receiving a $25,000 homestead exemption on your property taxes, you will automatically be upgraded to a $50,000 exemption this year. If you are a homeowner and do not currently receive the exemption, you may file your application in person along with a $15 late fee, through mid-September.

Save Our Homes Portability Cap: You may now trasfer up to $500,000 of your property tax cap to a new home when you move. To take advantage of this benefit, you must file a Homestead Exemption and Portability Application.

Tangible Personal Property Tax Exemption: If you're required to file a Tangible Personal Property Tax Return, you're entitled to a $25,000 exemption on business equipment.

Non-Homestead Cap: Beginning next year, those properties not eligible for a homestead exemption may apply to receive a 10% cap on property tax increases.

Homestead Exemption Overview:

FILING PERIOD JANUARY 1 – MARCH 1

Florida law requires that application be made by March 1st to be eligible for the $25,000 Homestead Exemption. Only new applicants or those who had a change of residence need apply. Automatic renewals are mailed in January each year.

In Florida, $25,000 of the assessed value of your home is exempt from real estate taxes, but you have to meet certain criteria to be eligible for the exemption. First you much have the title or record to your property as of January 1, and reside on the property. You have to be a legal and permanent resident of Florida as of January 1. When applying for the exemption status, bring along a copy of your deed or tax bill, and a Florida county voters registration or Declaration of Domicile. If you drive, you must also bring your Florida driver's license and automobile registration. New applications must be submitted in person at the appraiser's office, but renewals may be done by mail. For further information, consult the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Real Estate Taxes

All residents are subject to county taxes, but each city or special district levies taxes within its boundaries. City, special-district, and county taxes are combined in one tax bill. Real estate taxes are assessed as of January 1 each year. They are due and payable on November 1 and become delinquent if not paid before April 1 of the following year. Florida law holds the taxpayer responsible for receiving and paying tax bills in full. For additional information contact the County Property Appraiser's Office.

Establishing Residency

To establish residency, you may register to vote or file a Declaration of Domicile, which is an affidavit available at the CountyCourthouse. Filing one copy with the Circuit Court provides a record of your intention to make Florida your home. Simply moving to the State does not guarantee legal residency. For more information contact the County's Clerk of Circuit Court.

What is Homestead Exemption?

Florida Law entitles every person, who has legal or equitable title to real estate and maintains it as his/her permanent residence, to apply for a $25,000 homestead property tax exemption. A partial exemption may apply if the ownership of the applicant is less than 100%.

Am I eligible to file?

You must meet the following requirements as of January 1st:

Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of County

Residency on the property

Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida

Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card)

When do I file?

The deadline to file an application for exemption is March 1st. Under Florida law, failure to file for any exemption by March 1st constitutes a waiver of the exemption privilege for the year.

Regular filing is January 2nd - March 1st.

Pre-filing for the coming year is March 2nd - December 31st.

How do I file?

Take copies of the required documentation to your Exemption Department:Generally at the County or City Court House

Home inspections

Inspections-what to expect

Siding: Look for dents or buckling

Foundations: Look for cracks or water seepage

Exterior Brick: Look for cracked bricks or mortar pulling away from bricks

Insulation: Look for condition, adequate rating for climate (the higher the R value, the more effective the insulation is)

Doors and Windows: Look for loose or tight fits, condition of locks, condition of weatherstripping

Roof: Look for age, conditions of flashing, pooling water, buckled shingles, or loose gutters and downspouts

Ceilings, walls, and moldings. Look for loose pieces, dry wall that is pulling away.

Porch/Deck: Loose railings or step, rot

Electrical: Look for condition of fuse box/circuit breakers, number of outlets in each room.

Plumbing: Look for poor water pressure, banging pipes, rust spots or corrosion that indicate leaks, sufficient insulation

Water Heater: Look for age, size adequate for house, speed of recovery, energy rating.

Furnace/Air Conditioning: Look for age, energy rating. Furnaces are rated by annual fuel utilization efficiency; the higher the rating, the lower your fuel costs. However, other factors such as payback period and other operating costs, such as electricity to operate motors.

Garage: Look for exterior in good repair; condition of floor—cracks, stains, etc.; condition of door mechanism.

Basement: Look for water leakage, musty smell.

Attic: Look for adequate ventilation, water leaks from roof.

Septic Tanks (if applicable): Adequate absorption field capacity for the percolation rate in your area and the size of your family.

Driveways/Sidewalks: Look for cracks, heaving pavement, crumbling near edges, stains.

www.REALTOR.org/realtormag Reprinted from REALTOR® Magazine Online by permission of the NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF REALTORS® . Copyright 2003. All rights reserved