Florida Keys Buyers Information
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.
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
Information unique to buying a home in the Florida Keys”
As you may be aware, the environment that makes the Keys so attractive to thousands of people is a fragile environment the requires considerable attention to protect its health and beauty. This fact has created a requirement for close management of all activities that have or might have negative impact on the environment now or in the foreseeable future. The result is a number of "unique to the Keys" regulations and procedures concerning property ownership. They are provided for information purposes of broaden your understanding of what
is invalided when purchasing property in the Keys.
The buyer must determine the insurability of the property against flood damage by seeking the advice of a qualified insurance agent. Structures built before January 1, 1975 (pre-firm) are subject to rules governing substantial and non-substantial improvements to pre-firm structures which may
limit the reconstruction, rehabilitation or addition
to the pre-firm structure. Structures built after January 1, 1975 that has enclosures below the Base Flood Elevation (BFE) are typically not habitable. The existence of habitable space below the BFE may require demolition or an increase in insurance premium. Buyers should contact the Monroe County Federal Emergency Management Coordinator or the City of Key West, City of Key Colony Beach, City of Layton, City of Islamorada and City of Marathon to ascertain how these rules may impact on the
property of interest.
Coastal Barrier Resources
System Act (CBRS):
Certain properties in Monroe County may be affected by the Federal Coastal Barrier Resources System Act or proposed amendments. For information contact the United States Department of the Interior, the Monroe County Planning Department or your legal representative. Property so designated is not eligible for federally subsidized flood insurance as well as other benefits.
Land Use Disclosure:
Due to the unpredictable and constantly changing status of the municipal, county and state regulations for property developments in Monroe County each buyer should contact the appropriate local government department(s) to determine how the subject property may be affected by the Comprehensive Plan and the action necessary to ensure compliance with the plan. Additionally, a property may be affected by restrictive covenants in the form of deed restrictions, Homeowners Association Rules & Restrictions, etc. Every Buyer needs to inquire about them. They also should inquire into state and local governmental zoning and land use regulations and restrictive covenants to determine whether the subject property is in compliance with all state and local government laws, codes and ordinances, and restrictive covenants.
Monroe County Growth Management Division, 305-289-2500
Key Colony Beach Building & Zoning, 305-289-0247
City of Key West, 305-295-1000
City of Layton, 305-664-4667
City of Islamorada 305-664-2345
City of Marathon, 305-289-2501
Monroe County Year 2010 Comprehensive Plan:
The use of the property may be affected by the Land Use Plan, enacted September 15, 1986, revised 1/96 with subsequent revisions due every five (5) years hence or the availability of utilities and sewage disposal now or in the future. The transient rental of single-family residences in I.S. districts has been questioned by Monroe County and regulation by Local or State government may restrict such rentals in certain areas. Properly functioning septic tanks are the minimum permissible on site sewage disposal systems (OSDS). An allocation ordinance exists which limits the number of building permits issued for residential dwelling units. Prior to signing a contract, seek legal counsel or consult with the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Departments. Monroe County is an area of State Critical Concern that heightens the degree of regulation by the State of Florida.
City of Key West Land Use:
The City of Key West has debated the definition of vacation rentals and implementation of legislation to regulate, license, permit or prohibits within the City limits of Key West. If a Buyer is considering renting their property they should discuss the status of this issue with the Key West Planning Dept. to understand its impacts on the Buyer's proposed use of the property.
Structures and uses that do not conform to uses provided for in the land use category that the property or use is located in are considered non-conforming. Such uses and structures are currently allowed to continue but they are not allowed to be expanded, enlarged or continued if substantially destroyed (more than 50% of the value of the structure). Zoning together with the uses provided there under which do not conform to the future Land Use Designations are considered non-conforming. Furthermore, non-conformities are jeopardized if abandoned. Buyers should to seek legal counsel or consult with the Monroe County Planning and Zoning Department to determine whether a property is non-conforming today or may be in the future.
Radon is a naturally occurring radioactive gas that, when it has accumulated in a building in sufficient quantities, may present health risks to persons who are exposed to it over time. Levels of radon that exceed federal and state guidelines have been found in buildings in Florida. Additional information regarding radon and radon testing may be obtained from your county public health unit. Pursuant to 404.056(8), Florida Statutes.
Energy Efficiency Rating:
The Purchaser may have the Energy Efficiency Rating of the building determined at buyers expense by a person certified by the Department of Community Affairs.
Various concrete structures in the Keys have been found to contain excessive levels of Chloride. This has caused a condition known as spalling which results from the rusting and expansion of steel rebar which reinforces the concrete.
Sewage Disclosure Form:
The City of Marathon and unincorporated Monroe County have taken steps to upgrade to central sewer systems. For questions regarding the timing of the upgrades or estimated hook-up fees, contact:
Monroe County Health Department
3333 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
(305) 289-2450 -OR- City of Marathon
10045-55 Overseas Highway
Marathon, FL 33050
Lead Base Paint Warning:
For homes, apartments or condominiums built prior to 1978. Every purchaser of any interest in residential real property on which a residential dwelling was built prior to 1978 is notified that such property may present exposure to lead from lead-based paint that may place young children at risk of developing lead poisoning. Lead poisoning in young children may produce permanent neurological damage, including learning disabilities, reduced intelligent quotient, behavioral problems and impaired memory. Lead poisoning also poses a particular risk to pregnant women. The seller of any interest in residential real property is required to provide the buyer with any information on lead-based paint hazards from risk assessments or inspections in the seller’s possession and notify the buyer of any known lead-based paint. A risk assessment or inspection for possible lead-based paint hazards is reconverted prior to purchase
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.
• 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.
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.
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 discussion
Monroe County permits
You 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
• Asbestos Abatement
• MIDDLE KEYS OFFICE
• 2798 Overseas Highway
• Suite 300
• Marathon, FL 33050
• fax: 305 289-2515
• UPPER KEYS OFFICE:
• 88800 Overseas Highway
• Tavernier, FL 33070
• fax: 305 852-7103
• LOWER KEYS OFFICE:
• Juvenile Justice Building
• Room 2030
• 5503 College Rd.
• Key West, FL 33040
• 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 standards
Information 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 name
So 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
Home 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