Buying property in Florida - clear rules
The main task of all sales transactions in Florida is assumed by the broker in cooperation with a title company - in contrast to Germany, where the main legal task of the transaction lies with the notary.
Once the interested buyer has decided on a property in cooperation with his broker, a written offer in the form of a standardized preliminary contract is prepared by the buyer broker. This offer is usually lower than the asking price of the MLS listing, unless the buyer does not want to take any risk of losing the property to a higher bidder. In the case of a full price offer, the seller must accept the purchase offer with a few exceptions. The contract mainly contains information about the object of purchase, rights and obligations of buyer and seller, the date for the transfer of ownership (closing) and possible cancellation clauses according to which either party can withdraw from the contract under certain conditions (with and without financial consequences). You should always include a free cancellation clause in the contract in the event that you finance the purchase via a mortgage and the financing does not work out (financing contingency).
An initial deposit is also agreed upon in the contract, which the buyer pays as security. This deposit will be deposited in an escrow account of the real estate agent (broker) or the title insurance company, transferring ownership until closing. If the offer is accepted by the seller, a down payment is due immediately. Within 10 days or less, the amount must be increased to at least 10% of the purchase price. The remaining 90% is due on the day of closing. Only a bank check (cashier's check), preferably from a local bank in U.S. or a bank transfer received in time (allow at least five days for a bank transfer from abroad), will be accepted.
Before the closing, the buyer can check the property for its condition and any legal circumstances. For example, the buyer can have the property measured (survey) or the building inspected for general or specific defects (inspection). Who pays the costs for these tests is usually a matter of negotiation - usually they are the buyer's responsibility. The cost of a home inspection by a home inspector is approximately $400 to $500, and if new defects are identified prior to closing, the buyer may withdraw from the purchase contract. If the buyer can assert substantial defects, a withdrawal is usually possible without costs to the buyer. Otherwise the deposit may be claimed by the seller in whole or in part as compensation (depending on the basic structure of the contract).
All documents required for the transfer of ownership are signed jointly by the seller and buyer at an independent title insurance company or a lawyer on the day of closing. The closing usually takes place four weeks after the signing of the contract. The necessary measures for land register entry are initiated by us with the title company or your lawyer long before the property is handed over. During the course of the closing, the final walk-through of the property will also take place. This step again ensures that the property is transferred exactly as originally agreed.
On the day of closing, the buyer acquires ownership of the property against payment of the agreed purchase price and the applicable taxes, duties and fees. From this day on, all rights and obligations are transferred to the buyer. Ownership of the property is transferred by a Warranty Deed, which is then entered in the public records (comparable to the German Land Register). In the case of cash payment (without financing), the procedure takes about 20 days; in the case of U.S. financing, a minimum of 6 to 8 weeks must currently be expected from signing the contract until closing. In principle, your presence at the closing table is not required if you have previously signed the legally binding documents. Arrange for this in good time so that all necessary documents are available on the day of closing. In contrast to Germany, all commissions and rewriting fees are usually covered by the seller.
Financial matters are regulated by a closing statement, which lists all costs incurred in detail (closing costs). The buyer should settle his obligations by means of a cashier's check (certified check), i.e. a covered bank check in U.S. dollars or by bank transfer. For cash payments in US dollars, cash amounts of $10,000 or more must be reported to the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS). Personal checks are generally not accepted. All necessary funds (equity and borrowed funds) must be available in the escrow account on the day of closing.
Title insurance is usually taken out by the buyer to fill gaps in legal protection (cloud on title). This insurance offers protection against defects of title or claims of third parties. In the case of financing, the lender always requires the inclusion of a title insurance. This title insurance is particularly recommended if the seller (Grantor) gives no guarantee on the quality of the property (Bargain and Sale Deed). If subsequent claims to ownership are made by third parties, in this case the buyer (Grantee) must defend them. In contrast, with a General Warranty Deed, the seller guarantees that he will, until further notice, defend against all claims from third parties relating to ownership of the property at his own expense. This is the best solution for the buyer.
As a licensed real estate broker, or REALTOR®, we organize all the preparatory work for you on-site, such as finding properties, opening a local US dollar account, taking out the necessary insurance policies and conducting home inspections. If you need financing, we will of course assist you in this task and establish appropriate links to our mortgage broker. We also arrange renowned German-language contacts in immigration and tax matters. That way, nothing stands in the way of a smooth process on the day of closing and you are the proud owner of your "Residence in Paradise". Create your own personal network through us - rely only on licensed real estate brokers.
If you would like to rent out your property afterwards, please contact us. Our property management takes care of the furnishing, marketing, maintenance and upkeep of your property, as well as the check-in and check-out of your vacation guests. I continuously monitor all necessary steps we take on your behalf.