January 18, 2011, 5:00 am

Wanna Buy a Condo in Florida?

by: The Financial Blogger    Category: Properties
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buy condo in florida

There is snow, you can go see the Montreal Canadiens for nothing,  women are beautiful (alright, there are good looking men too 😉 ) and our Canadian Dollar worth more than the US currency. I think that I should ask my question differently: Who would not want to have a condo in Florida? Many of my clients bought a condo in Florida since 2008 and one of my friends did it last year. It appeared to be a pretty good deal since 2 condos in the same tower were sold last fall for 40% more than what he paid. But wait, things are far from being perfect in the Capital of the sun. Before you make a move, I’d suggest you do your homework as buying a condo in Florida is not the same thing as buying a condo in Canada ;-0.
Financial situation of the condo association

One of the key aspects to look at is the financial situation of the condo association. Why? Because some condo associations in Florida have major financial problems! Imagine a 30 condo tower with a vacancy rate of 25% (yup, there are a lot of people leaving their condos since they can’t pay for them anymore). I’m sure you can imagine how your condo fees could be hiked up to a ridiculous amount to compensate for the lack of paying owners.
Type of insurance coverage in place

If you are about to invest in Florida, you want to make sure that your investment is covered. We don’t have many hurricanes in Canada, but things are different down south. Depending on the area, it is important to look at the insurance coverage offered on your property along with what the condo association has decided to go with (don’t forget, you are not alone in this deal, the condo association plays a big role).
How many units are for sale in the building

Here again, the number of units for sale (or owned by the bank) could be a deciding factor when making your choice. If there are many units for sale, you will surely get a good price for your condo. However, it also means that your condo value will take more time to grow. And we are not talking about the chances of having squatters as well…
Can you rent out the place?

Your plans are made; you did your research carefully, you are well insured and you found a super condo in a great location. On top of it, you are going to rent your condo in Florida to your friends for half of the year… Oh wait! Can you rent out your condo? This should be part of your list of questions to answer while shopping for a condo. Some condo associations only allow a specific number of units for rental purposes and yours might not be part of the lucky owners.

What happens if you die?

Well, that’s an easy one; I have a Canadian will and the condo I just bought will go to my wife or kids. Watch out! The State of Florida might not recognize your Canadian will or might cause some trouble (well, cause trouble for the liquidator of your estate 😉 ) regarding the transfer of the condo. In order to play it safe, you are better off creating a US will as well. Then, you will be fully covered.
Get professional help

If you don’t know much about Florida and you plan on buying a condo there, you will need professional help. Ask your bank if they have a branch there that can hook you up with the following professionals for a successful transaction:

– Real Estate Agent

– Banker

– Property Inspector

– Closing agent / Lawyer

– etc.

Your bank should be able to help you out and guide you through the buying process in Florida. It might cost a few thousand more but you are better to be safe than sorry!

Do you own a condo in Florida? I’d be curious to read your story!

EDIT: I have found an article written by Ellen Roseman from the Toronto Star on buying condo in Florida and the effect of exchange rate. interesting ;-D

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TFB – thanks for the heads up on a lot of the potential traps we could fall into. We entertained the idea briefly but decided we should pay down debt and invest before considering foreign property. I’ll file this article for future use though!

I have heard of major problems happening with capital gains and taxes when selling in Florida (not sure about other states).

Florida property taxes are also much larger for non-residents than residents from what I’ve heard, so watch out for that too!

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Hello there…I have a question looking at the other side of your story…I have a condo for sale here in South Florida, west of the city of Hollywood, which I understand is a favorite location for our friends north of the border…How can I get some exposure to market my condo to you all??