Real Estate Closings in Florida

The Villages is ever expanding, and is still selling new homes at an incredible rate. And of course as retirees die, or move out of The Villages, those homes come onto the market.
And, very frequently, those houses are being snapped up by out of state buyers. Who, typically, have some questions about real estate closings in Florida.
Depending on the state from which the buyer is from, they may be used to lawyers being involved in real estate closings for both the buyer and the seller.  New Jersey comes to mind: I’m from New Jersey and every real estate transaction I ever saw in New Jersey involved lawyers on both the buyer and sellers end.
I am not about to tell you that having a lawyer is a bad idea; at the very least, having a lawyer review a contract and explain the ramifications is a good idea. Nonetheless, the overwhelming majority of residential real estate closings in Florida are held at “Title Companies”.  These title companies are licensed by the state; some of them are owned or associated with a lawyers’ office, but not necessarily so; and usually the title companies are selected by the seller, or the real estate agent, if one is involved, or sometimes, the bank who is financing the purchase. More often than not, the buyer is not represented by an attorney, unless the buyer specifically seeks a lawyer out and pays the lawyer to be involved.
The title company will usually handle all aspects of the closing; they will do a title search, they will prepare the deeds and sometimes other documents such as the mortgages, they will handle the money, they will prepare the closing statement, or HUD-1, they will issue the title insurance if paid to do so, and they will handle the actual mechanics of the closing; provide the notary and witnesses, oversee the signings of the various documents, record and return the deeds and mortgages.
There are several points to consider, though.  First, title insurance. Title insurance protects someone in the event that there is a problem with the title to the property. However, it only protects the person who is paying for it; and it does not protect against certain things relating to the boundary lines unless there is a survey is done.  If the sale is financed, normally the bank or finance company will pay for title insurance. Sometimes buyers will not buy title insurance even though the bank is purchasing it. This is a rather risky move. Even though the title company has done a title search, there is always the possibility that either the title company missed something in the public record, such as a wrong legal description, or that there may be something not obvious from the public record, which could be a forged deed.  I’ve seen both of these things happen; they don’t happen often, but they have happened.  If the title company issues a policy and it later turns out that there is a problem with the title, the title company will either fix the problem or pay the policy holder up to the value of the policy.
I also mentioned that title policies normally don’t protect against certain things relating to boundary lines unless there is a survey. Examples would include encroachments, which could be a fence line, a swimming pool or in some cases, all or part of a building that crosses a boundary line onto a neighbors property, or easement problems, where someone is using part of your property without permission to access their own property.  If a survey would have shown the problem and a survey was not done, the title company will not cover the problem.
I strongly recommend that all buyers get title insurance, and I recommend that all buyers get a survey as part of the title insurance. This stuff is relatively cheap; title insurance usually costs 1% or less of the sales price; and most surveys are going to cost a few hundred dollars unless it is a very large piece of property such as a farm or a ranch.  You don’t have to do either of these, and I am not suggesting that problems are frequent; but problems happen from time to time and title insurance can make a huge difference in fixing it.  This is insurance; you hope you never need it but if you do it can be a lifesaver.
Another point has to do with deed restrictions and homeowners association rules.  In many subdivisions, and very definitely in The Villages, there are restrictions on what you can do with the property. Some of these restrictions are common sense; you can’t keep livestock like cows or goats in a community. Some of these go to where you have to park your car; or what type, style and color of paint or siding or roofing you can have on your house. Or what you can mount on  your house or in  your yard; clotheslines and flags. Or they may have to do with who can live there; particularly in an age restricted community.  The point is, you need to look at these for yourself, before closing; you if you have questions about the restrictions you need to contact an attorney.
There are a number of issues raised when buying a house and I can’t possibly address all of them here, but if you are buying a house in The Villages,  you may want to have an attorney review the contract and advise you regarding the process.  Prior to signing the contract.  Once you sign it may be difficult, expensive, or impossible to easily back out.

This entry was posted in Real Estate. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *