florida keys real estate buyers information

Florida Keys Buyers Information

About Home Inspections & what's involved
A home inspection is conducted as part of the home-purchasing process, and its purpose is to disclose to the potential buyers the physical condition of the home. The buyers should be present in the house when the inspection takes place to ask questions as the inspector makes his way throughout the interior and exterior of the building. A report by a licensed home inspector allows the buyer to make an informed investment in the house or choose to opt out of the purchase because of defects. The following is an overview of what the inspector will do during the actual inspection based on the American Society of Home Inspectors' standards of practice

Structure
The inspector will inspect the foundation, floors, walls, ceilings and roof for signs of deterioration.

Plumbing and Electric
The inspector will examine the water heater, faucets, visible pipes, light fixtures and switches and service equipment.

Heating and Air Conditioning
The inspector will look at the heating and air conditioning units as well as the vent and distribution systems.

Exterior
The inspector will inspect the chimney, siding, doors and driveway, as well as patios, decks or porches.

Interior
The inspector will look at the countertops, kitchen cabinets, doors, windows and stairways.

Chemicals
The inspector may conduct tests to determine levels of radon, lead and other harmful chemicals present in the house.

Read more: What Happens at a Home Inspection? | eHow.com http://www.ehow.com/facts_4895969_what-happens-home-inspection.html#ixzz2R1V8ksx2

Moving Guide and Checklist
This checklist has been carefully designed to help get you organized and ready you're your upcoming move.
8 Weeks before move:
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Look into getting moving and/or storage insurance to cover your items during the move. Begin to get estimates from moving companies. Shop around as much as possible to get the best rate. Remember to be as accurate as possible when giving information for your estimate.
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If you plan to move yourself, now is the time to reserve a rental truck. Again, it pays to shop around
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Get estimates for shipping your car.
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If you are moving overseas, check on possible quarantine and/or vaccination requirements for your pet.
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If you have small children, be sure to research child care options in your new area. Select and register children for local schools in your new area. Arrange transfer of immunization and records and transcripts.
7 Weeks before move:
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Make a Moving File to store receipts, records, and important papers related to your move.
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Check with accountant about which moving expenses are deductible.
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Begin removing unwanted or unneeded items from your attic, garage, basement, or storage.
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Plan to donate or sell.
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Check to make sure you have returned all borrowed items including video rentals and library books.
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Gather important documents (birth certificates, immunization records, insurance documents, etc..) and place them in a briefcase, strong box, or other secure place to insure that they do not get misplaced during the move.
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If you're using a mover, get in touch with your chosen moving company and set a date for the move. Fill out any necessary paperwork, and be sure to get moving insurance if you need it.
6 Weeks before move:
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Check that your car registration and driver's license are up to date.
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You may also need to notify your auto insurance.
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Make item donations, and collect receipts for tax purposes. Or, try selling your unwanted items online.
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Have garage sale.
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Notify your doctor, dentist, veterinarian, accountant, and financial planner of your move and ask for referrals in your new area. Collect records from them.
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Be sure your medical insurance covers the professionals in your new area.
___Forward or cancel any monthly services, subscriptions, or memberships.
5 Weeks before move:
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Contact current utility companies to cancel or transfer accounts to lower Keys utilities.
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Decide where you are going to stay your last night in town after all your items are packed for moving.
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Make sure you have transportation arrangements for your pet.
4 Weeks before move:
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Fill out an official change of address with USPS online.
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Notify all important business and personal contacts of your new address.
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Fill out changes of address for creditors and magazine subscriptions.
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Leave a forwarding address with the next owners or tenants of your home if possible.
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Buy boxes and packing materials if you are moving yourself.
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Reserve elevator, if necessary, for moving day.
3 Weeks before move:
Start packing! Begin with rooms of the house you don't use often and finish with the kitchen.
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Choose a room of the house to serve as a temporary storage area for packed boxes.
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Make an inventory of important and/or expensive items in your home as you pack. Try to take photographs of these items, if possible. You may need this inventory for insurance purposes in the event items get lost or damaged in the move.
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Check into storage options for those items you cannot move immediately and may need to store temporarily.
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Start involving your kids in the move. Make it exciting by having your kids pack some of their own things. Give them their own box to pack. Let them figure out new layouts for their rooms.
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If you have young children, arrange for a babysitter on moving day. You can concentrate on the move knowing your children are being cared for safely.
2 Weeks before move:
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Close any local bank accounts and open new ones in your new location. Try to get checks printed with your new address as soon as possible.
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Drain gas from any gas powered equipment before you pack it up. Try to make disposal arrangements for any oil, gas, old paint cans, or other hazardous substances you will not be able to move, use, or give away.
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Verify schedules with Realtor.
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Arrange to have your new home cleaned before movers arrive.
1 Week before move:
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Make backup copies of important files on your computer before packing it up.
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Service your car, especially if you're driving to your new place.
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Donate food items you don't consume to a shelter or food bank.
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Cancel newspapers.
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Confirm any travel plans or reservations you may have made for moving day (flights, hotel, rental cars, etc.)
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Confirm arrangements with your moving company.
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Give plants a loving home
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Return cable boxes for TV.
Moving week:
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Be sure to have some cash on hand for the day of the move. You may need it to tip movers, buy snacks, etc. Keep in mind that many businesses do not accept out-of-state checks.
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Begin cleaning your house. Make sure you defrost your refrigerator and freezer.
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Pick up your rental truck and any moving equipment you may need (dollies, carts, furniture pads, etc.).
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Keep your pets confined on the day of the move. Make sure they are in a safe place away from the hubbub of the move with plenty of food and water.
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When you're finished, do a final walk-through of your old residence, checking closets, drawers, etc.
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Turn off all lights, turn off hot water heater, lock all doors and windows.
PACK THESE ITEMS IN A BOX TO GO WITH YOU
___A wall phone.
___Cell phone and charger.
___Extension cords, batteries.
___Tools-hammers, screwdrivers, nails, screws, scotch tape, duct tape, and a tape measure.
___Address book or PDA.
___Suffiencit cash or traveler's checks.
___Personal ID - driver's license.
___Cleaning materials-especially paper towels.
___Hand wipes and toilet paper.
___Light bulbs, a small lamp, flashlight.
___Alarm clock.
AT YOUR NEW HOME
___Take doors off hinges, clear paths for movers.
___Have your REALTOR suggest a local food delivery service for lunch/dinner on moving day.
___Make sure you have a cooler of drinks and toilet paper available on moving day
___Check each item off your inventory that movers bring into home
___Send in claims for damages during the move
___Make grocery shopping list for new home
___Test security and smoke alarms
___Obtain local emergency numbers and post them
___Take back rental truck with full tank of gas
___Get a professional to set up appliances (gas, electric or plumbing)
___Change locks on all doors. Call Realtor for locksmith referral.
___Find the right cellular phone service for your needs
___Feng Shui your home
___Go to the DMV for new plates and registration of vehicles
___Get a new propane tank for the grill and fuel for gas-powered tools
___File real estate documents in safe place-copy closing statement for accountant
___Join new homeowners association if there is one
___Buy new plants and flowers
___Throw a house warming party
___Find a new veterinarian, doctor, dentist, hair and nail salons. Again, your Realtor is the best place to head for recommendations.

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