Buying a property in Florida
A Czech or Slovak citizen is not limited in buying a property in Florida, and can be owned as a natural or legal person.
The first step in the process of buying a property is to open a bank account with a US bank. When investing or buying an off-plan property (in the design phase), the first step is a booking agreement where the buyer pays a deposit (typically $ 2,000 – $ 20,000). The deposit is payable to the escrow account (similar to a notarial deposit) and is fully refundable. The purchase contract is prepared within 1-6 months and includes complete documentation for the future property. When signing the contract, 10% of the purchase price of the property is usually payable (minus the reservation deposit paid), also to the escrow account.
The deposit is fully refundable within 14 days of signing the contract. The contract also stipulates payment terms – usually the second 10% of the purchase price of the property is payable within 3-6 months, the remainder of the purchase price is payable only at the closing – transfer of the property to ownership (similar to the notarial record of the property transfer). At closing, the buyer may be represented by an authorized person.
On closing day, the buyer becomes the owner of the property. It is necessary to apply for a mortgage loan about 1 month before the expected closing date.
Registration in the Land Register is usually done within 1-3 months after closing.
When buying a second-hand property, after opening a bank account and selecting a property, the first step is to inspect and professionally estimate the price of the property. A mortgage loan is applied for and closing is being prepared.
The estimated cost of buying a property in Florida is:
- Closing costs (approx. 1-3% including mortgage loan processing
Costs associated with running a property in Florida:
- local property tax (2-3% of the cadastral value of the property per year)
- service costs (electricity, water, telephone, gas, cleaning, etc.)
- real estate insurance
- Property income tax (in case of rental)
Costs associated with selling a property in Florida:
- Closing costs (approx. 0.5-1% of the selling price of the property)
- Commission (approx. 6-7% of the selling price of the property)
- Income tax
- FIRTPA tax (withholding of 10% of the price of the property – the balance is refunded after paying the income tax)
Mediterránea guides clients through the entire process of buying a property, from opening a bank account to closing and possibly other services (bookkeeping, tax consultancy, etc.). The purchase or investment property can be made through Mediterránea without the buyer’s personal presence in Florida.
We currently do not recommend short-term investment in real estate due to excess supply over demand.
The decline in property prices in the USA in the last year has made the purchase of real estate more attractive for Czech and Slovak citizens. A very interesting investment opportunity is the so-called “short sales” and “foreclosure”, which are recently very often declensioned terms in the language of real estate brokers or investors. A short sale occurs when the owner is unable to repay the bank’s mortgage loan and agrees with the bank on the possibility of selling at a price lower than the outstanding debt. The process of approving a bank’s sale is not easy and may take more than 2 months. “Foreclosure” is the sale of a property already owned by the Bank. Selling such a property can be very fast, often approved by the bank within 2 days of the offer.
The prices of properties sold in this way are around 30-50% of the peak prices (2007-2008).