The Yankees…..10 Things to Know When Buying in South Florida
Folks from the Northeast often get in trouble when moving to South Florida. One needs to understand the lay of the land. I learned that the hard way years ago.
I was once a nice Midwestern boy. Then my dad sent me to work in textile mills in the deep south as part of a training program before entering that industry. For 3-4 months I literally worked in yarn manufacturing facilities, dye plants, and printing factories. My first two spots were in Spartanburg and Gaffney South Carolina. Gaffney was the hometown of Frank Underwood from the House of Cards with the Big Peach.
I had two strikes against me immediately. The first was I didn’t drink the iced tea. Southerners love their iced tea. At 22, I sipped it politely, but it showed. The second strike was they thought I was a Yankee. I claimed I was not. They said aren’t you from Illinois, the land of Lincoln? I said, that is correct. They said that proves I’m a Yankee. I emphatically said it does not! As matter of fact, I am on your side. I hate the Yankees. Now everyone was confused. I explained that the Yankees spend money like a drunken sailor and it’s not fair to teams like my White Sox. Little did I know they were referring to the Civil War while I was talking baseball. Finally, they brought me to the The Beacon, which is this crazy Southern BBQ joint. If I didn’t like the Chili Cheese a Plenty or the BBQ Hash, that probably would have done it. But, fortunately, I loved that Southern BBQ. They accepted me and that’s when I became a real Southerner.
Yankees from the Northeast (and I’m including you Red Sox fans) have the same issue when moving to South Florida. You need to get used to our way of doing business as you aren’t in the Northeast anymore. You need to become Florida Man or Woman. Here are 10 essentials that Northeasterner’s must know when buying in South Florida….
- No Binders. When in Rome do as the Romans and when in Florida do as the Floridians. You are not in New York City. Our contracts are not “Binders” and closing dates are not “On or About”. It’s important to learn our contracts and what to do in certain situations. Click here to find out more about understanding Florida contracts.
- Lawyers are not automatically involved in the buying or selling process. A buyer or seller can hire one separately and a good agent will know when to get one involved. However, the Florida contracts are designed to fill in the blanks and they are often not involved.
- South Florida is not cheap. It’s a bargain compared to the Northeast and our income tax situation is nothing. Nothing means 0%. However, the pioneer stage of the market ended years back. Look at the population charts from 1980-2023. 576,000 to over 1,500,000 people today. The prime spots are out of land and that giant population influx that will continue is driving prices up. To make matters worse, the prime spots are all built out. Land is still available in Western Palm Beach County and on the Treasure Coast but prices over time will appreciate at a much higher rate than it will in the northeast.
- Taxes, homestead, title insurance. Never look at what someone is currently paying on their property taxes. It’s irrelevant. A resident’s taxes can only go up 3% a year if they are homesteaded. 10% if they are not. It’s going to get reassessed, so you need to have your Relator explain this to you. Who customarily pays for title insurance varies by county. You can learn more here, with our guide to closing, homestead, and tax costs.
- Contracts. AS IS Contracts are most commonly used. AS IS gives you an option to inspect and cancel within that AS IS Period (15 days is what is written in, although it often negotiated down). There are other contracts as well. It’s important to understand these contract optionss – here’s our handy guide
- Understand the lay of the land. People really shop around by researching areas and communities first before considering bedrooms and square footage. At Echo, we understand this better than most, and offer you several ways to search. Looking for newer construction communities? Communities with Pickleball? How about Condos on the Water? Search communities by area, and by type. Is your lifestyle more important? Looking for a beach lifestyle or are you more of a city and downtown lover? Search by lifestyle here. Know the general area you want to be in, but not sure about the community? Search and find out information on our thousands of community pages. And for those of you who aren’t sure, we still have a basic search option!
- Roofs and construction types are different here. The underlayment eats away and lifecycles for roofs are 20-25 years. Roofs last longer up north. Roofs, construction type, hurricane shutters, and physical location all have an impact on your insurance cost.
- Condos. You need to understand the recent condo laws regarding safety and assessments. Here’s what you need to know. We are deep into this now, and expect condo prices to rise sharply once each condo has completed its structural studies. Lots are done and all have to be finished by 12/31/2023.
- Country Clubs. If you are interested in country clubs, there are a lot of activities and amenities to pick from. We have compiled some great charts which compare the country clubs in Northern Palm Beach County, Southern Palm Beach County, and Martin County.
- You need to understand how seasonality works. The good homes go the fastest and the heart of season is just 12 weeks. When to get your deals done are key.
Most important thing to remember though, is to slow down. No fighting on the subway. Heck, we don’t even have those. Instead, no worries. As Jimmy Buffett said when singing about South Florida, it’s only earlier than 5 O’clock in New York. Or something like that.
Jeff Lichtenstein, originally from Chicago, got his start in the home furnishings textile business where he traveled over 35 weeks a year selling fabrics. After the family business was sold, Jeff moved to Florida and became a real estate agent. Today he is the owner and broker of Echo Fine Properties, a luxury residential brokerage voted best brokerage of the year. Jeff manages a non-traditional model of real estate that mimics a traditional business model. Echo has 80 agents, an average of one million dollars per transaction and over 500 million in annual sales. Between traveling for work and annual family trips to national parks with his wife and 2 now adult children, Jeff has visited 49 states. He is also one of the few Chicago White Sox fans you’ll ever meet. Some publications he has been quoted in.
Author of business & leadership book How Making a Sandwich Can Change Your World –
Feel free to ask him a question directly at jeff@EchoFineProperties.com including a complementary valuation of your home.