Check out my FAQ page. After decades in the luxury real estate industry, I'm happy to share some frequently discussed buyer and seller topics. Are you looking to buy or sell? Click here to get started today.
In Florida many neighborhoods formed gated communities beginning in the 1990’s for the original purpose of securing seasonal homes where the owners went up north in the summer months. Later it became popular to organize themselves and split the maintenance cost of not only security but lawn service and cable service. Today this concept has grown further into golf and resort communities that share all expenses that each homeowner votes on annually.
This is the Homeowners Association quarterly or annual cost to pay for the services you use at your home and in your community such as your cable and wifi, lawn maintenance, street lights, gatehouse, parks, clubhouse, community gym or pool, etc
Not all but some communities have what they call a “Master Association” that covers the costs for the main roads in your community as well as the main clubhouse, community pool, community tiki bar, boulevard landscaping, security, and gatehouses as well as the maintenance of the ponds and management of this staff. In addition, these large Master Communities have smaller enclaves of homes and condos. Each enclave of condo’s for example would then have its respective Association that covers the maintenance of your condo building, cutting off your personal lawns, painting those buildings, power-washing your roof and driveway as well as other costs related to your unit specifically. All of which is voted on by you the homeowners.
Prior to putting in an offer on a home, I will gather all the information on the home and its community documents and requirements for you to review. I have extensive knowledge of these communities and can help you locate and find the answers to your questions. If the community you want to purchase is in a gated HOA, then yes, you will need to understand and accept all the Bylaws and restrictions when you purchase. However, Naples offers several areas that are not HOA restricted and a few where the membership IS optional. (But those are very few)
Great Question! Anything goes! In most cases (not all) you can count on lawn service, which typically includes: cutting, weed whipping, edging, trimming, fertilizing, sprinkler head maintenance, mulching, and outside water coming off of the ponds. As well as parks, clubhouses, gatehouses, Wifi and cable, security or privacy patrol and sometimes even golf. Each house has a vote on what to add and how to divide up the costs. Every community is different. You should never assume and always get a current year's budget to confirm what is included.
Most commonly found in new construction communities or those under 20 years of age. This was a cost-sharing system created in the early 2000s during the building boom to help Developers raise capital to develop large parcels of land. The infrastructure for 3,000 front doors is very expensive to install roads, sewers, sidewalks, parks, streetlights, ponds, and lift stations as well as brick walls, gatehouses, and clubhouses. When public demand for homes is high it takes a great deal of money to get these communities built fast. This is where a Community Development District Bond is issued. The Bond stays with the property for the specified number of years to cover those expenses. In most cases, I’ve seen 20-25 years. After this, the bond itself is paid off but a small operations and maintenance fee will still remain to cover the ongoing maintenance of the above-mentioned.
When a new community is built, the original Developer along with the Builder put together the first set of Bylaws and Restrictions for the community. These documents set the tone for the lifestyle of this community and Buyers will chose to live here based on these documents. Over time the homeowners will take over the community and can vote to amend or add new ideas. These documents are filed with the State and County and the records are available to all potential home buyers to review before deciding if this is the right lifestyle for you and your family. Things that are often covered in these documents are pets, motorcycles, campers and RV’s, landscape changes, pools or fences, rental policies, etc. You should be very honest with yourself, if there is something in the documents that you can not live with, your best to pass on that community. I’ve seen people knowingly try and skate around one of the rules and have it come back to bite them. It is not pleasant when this happens and could have been avoided right from the beginning by picking a different neighborhood. So don’t be afraid to speak up and tell me exactly how many puppies you have and if those cute furry babies are going to be 100 lbs when all grown up.
Now you are making progress! You have found the nitty-gritty! Pesky “special assessments” not sure there is anything special about them… Just plain old painful! That’s when your potential new neighbors got together last year or in recent years and decided to do an improvement project or create a fun new amenity. They took a vote and the majority said “yes”. The project is most likely well underway and you will be paying for it too. I’ll be sure to look for those and we will obtain disclosure and or an HOA current budget to check it out. (I may be able to get the Seller to pay this off in some, but not all cases)
After your offer is accepted by the Seller, you will need to obtain and mail in your community application. This is a form where the community asks your name and members of your household so they can share with the gatehouse and create your car or gate passes to get you in and out. They will also ask about pets and double-check that you are aware of all their policies like rentals and campers. Some high-end communities with Golf Country Clubs will want to know you are in good standing with any previous Country Clubs you may have belonged to and may want references. Yet other Resort-style communities will ask you questions about your hobbies and interests so their social director can plan future events accordingly. Most every application has an application fee ranging from $30-$200
Welcome to the SUNSHINE STATE! Where fun and activities are endless. We have so many different styles of community living here from boating communities to golf and resort-style. Some communities even live like tiny city’s. So to make it affordable for everyone, some communities are “Bundled” which means everything in the community is yours for one price for the year. In other communities, they choose to break it up and you only pay for what you are interested in. For example, if you are a huge tennis player, you can pay for the Tennis club on an annual basis but not the Golf Club and vise versa. Some have Boating memberships, Golf memberships, and now even Pickleball memberships. There is also a simple “Social Membership” That one allows you the use of the pool, gym and restaurants only. When we look for homes, I will ask you many questions to help you narrow down which ones will work best for your likes and hobbies.
The simple answer is no, not always. You can usually count on the pool, gym, and restaurants. But some communities have additional free’s for Golf, Tennis, Pickleball, and Boating memberships.
If you are in a deed-restricted community, you will most likely need to fill out the “ARC” form which stands for Architectural Review Committee. This is a form each community has where you write down your intended change to your home, pool, or landscaping along with drawings and details of color, style, and material. You send it into your Homeowners Association and the ARC committee will meet and go through each one to cross-check it with the community Bylaws and Restrictions to determine if it meets the community guidelines. In most cases, these are your neighbors and if they find that one of your ideas is not a good match, they will usually make alternative suggestions that will work. The intended goal of an ARC committee is to preserve the value of property within the community.
Yes, we will definitely find a community where both you and your furry friend will love your house. Depending on your pets’ weight and breed, we may need to look hard but there is a community for everyone. When it comes to pet restrictions, condos are the most restrictive due to the close proximity of neighbors. If you can be flexible on location and homestyle, all pets will find a home.
This really depends on the size of the community or enclave. The smaller the community the less likely they are to expense a 24-hour gate guard. The larger the community, the more likely they are to have one, two or even three gatehouse entrances. These larger communities are usually our most popular resort communities with lots of amenities and restaurants as well as tiki bars. So keeping the general public out and keeping them from using the amenities you are paying for is important.
Yes, golf carts are the preferred mode of transportation in most communities. There are some exceptions and you should consult the community Bylaws and Restrictions documents.
There are several styles of homes to chose from in South Florida. The names used to describe these styles may be different from what your use to in the north. Click each one for a description.
A coach home is one of four. There will be two units on the first floor and two on the second floor. You one either a first or second floor. Each unit has an attached two-car garage. Because the garages are on the ground floor, the two first floor units will always be smaller than the two on the second floor which will expand over the garages. The upper-end construction of coach homes will include a private elevator for the second-floor units.
A Carriage home will be 6-12 units, two stories high. Carriage homes usually have 1 car attached garage and are smaller than Coach homes and less expensive due to size. You own either a first floor or a second floor.
The use of the word “Condo” is used interchangeably around the world. In general, People use it often to refer to anything other than a single-family home. But here in South Florida and Naples in particular, we refer to a Condo to mean an attached unit two stories high, that does not have an attached garage. It may have a detached garage, carport, or open parking. Condos will be the least expensive of the 3 styles and are usually older construction.
The word Casita means small home in Spanish. Here in Naples, we have a strong Mediterranean influence that can be seen in home styles throughout the area. Casitas are small homes built out front of a larger single-family home or may be attached to the main home. Casitas are very handy for visitors, college students, caregivers, and overflow guests. Casitas add additional value to your current home
A townhome is a group of multiple two-story homes. Each homeowner owns their own first AND second floor of the home with an attached 1 or 2 car garage. Most townhomes have all of the bedrooms on the second floor. Some new construction townhomes now have one bedroom on the first floor with remaining bedrooms upstairs.
Now this one is a mystery to me as it does not take on its traditional meaning of a sprawling home on land with a pool that was a get-a-way for the rich. Here in Florida, it has a completely different meaning. A Villa home in Naples will mean a small single-family home on a small homesite to keep yard work to a minimum.
A twin villa is two single-family homes connected by one wall. This style of home saves on land cost and is usually a nice affordable option.
A courtyard home is a single-family home that is built around a courtyard usually with a pool in the middle. It may or may not still have a small backyard. This is another style inspired by Mediterranean architecture. It is popular for those wanting privacy around the pool.
This term is usually used when referring to condos found around water or the ocean to distinguish the buildings from each other. A low rise would be 2-3 floors.
Most people refer to a mid-rise when searching for a higher floor to obtain a great view of the water or a golf course. A mid-rise might have 4-6 floors.
High rises are a special breed. They are usually found on our beautiful beaches in order to allow the most amount of people to have amazing views. High rises can be pricey as they often offer high-end amenities. High rises can have 12-18 floors on average in Naples FL. When looking for a beach high rise, the higher in the building you go, the price will increase due to the better views.
A penthouse is the top floor of a high rise and can span more than one typical size condo. Sometimes the top floor is sold to only one or two families who custom build the space with their own designers. Penthouses can be some of the most expensive real estate in any beach town in Florida.
Here in Florida, the Gulf of Mexico is found on our West coast side of the state. We like to say in Naples, “West is Best” When the Gulf of Mexico wraps around a peninsula or an island it can create a calmer body of water called a “Bay” the stretch of water that narrows into the bay is referred to as the “Pass” Many Buyers prefer to buy a home on a Bay for the calmer water and can still have beautiful sunsets. Often times you will see that Canals were cut in (man-made) to form additional waterways to park boats. Buying on a Canal will be less expensive than a Bay because you will be able to see your neighbors house out your back windows across the canal. But Canal homesites are still one of the most requested properties I am asked about.
Preserve views are either loved or hated. A preserve in Florida is not the same thing as a wooded view up north. A preserve in a gated community is not to be walked in or hiked in. You can not trespass in a preserve. Nor would you want to. Preserves are meant to be protected for wildlife. The floor of a preserve can be wet and muddy. It is common to see mostly Cypress trees in Preserves as well as many other native trees and brush. This is true Floridian nature. But I have heard from Northerners that they have lived in wooded areas up north and are moving here to see water. So to chose a preserve view is definitely a personal opinion.
Florida has many mobile home communities. Mobile homes in Florida are sold differently than other types of homes as they have a department of motor vehicle registrations that need to be transferred. Mobile homes can be placed on land you own or land you rent.
In most cases, you won’t be able to park your recreational vehicle at your home for an extended period of time. Each community has in their homeowners’ documents guidelines on how many days you can park your camper or RV prior to your trip and after your trip to pack and unpack it. You will need to find a longer-term parking solution for your RV. There are a few communities that have RV and boat parking within the communities.
An experienced Realtor with a great deal of knowledge in the area you are looking to purchase can be invaluable and the best decision you can make, saving you both time and money. Conversely, a wrong property choice can cost you a lot more money in mistakes, tons of headaches, and wasted time.
Multiple Listing Service – This is where Realtors enter their new listings. This is considered the most reliable current information available. The information is not guaranteed and should always be verified by you and your agent. This is a professional subscription where licensed Realtors cooperate with each other. This information can be streamed to a member’s website for real-time data, as you see here on OwnInNaples.com
No one knows! Stop asking the question, because the answer won’t change.
Traditionally in Naples Florida, the Seller pays a marketing fee to his Listing Agent to market the home and locate a qualified Buyer. That Listing Agent will enter the home into the local MLS and offer a cooperative amount to a Buyers Agent to bring a Buyer to the property. The Buyers Agent does not get any say-so in what their compensation will be. During a Sellers’ Market where there are very few properties available and many Buyers, the Buyers agents are working around the clock to research properties, collect all the HOA documents, draft contracts, and present offers, while being placed at the mercy of the Seller to cooperate fairly. In recent times, the cooperating compensation has dwindled to nearly nothing as realtors are working longer and longer days. A new solution that has found its way to Florida from other hot areas of the country, is a “Buyers Agreement”. This is where a buyer signs an agreement to pay their own agent an agreed-upon minimum amount in the event that the coop amount offered on the MLS is less than the Buyers Agreement states. For example, if a Buyer wants a realtor to work for them in locating properties and putting in offers, they may agree to a guaranteed rate of 4% of the purchase price. If a particular home the Buyer wants is offering a coop of 1.5% to the Buyer’s Agent, then in this example, the Buyer would remit to their agent the difference of 2.5% at closing. We are quickly seeing these types of agreements becoming more and more common.
It is highly recommended and readily available for all types of properties. My team is happy to help you locate a professional in our area.
That depends on the type of property you purchase. I am happy to discuss each of these in detail. Here are a few: Structure, Mechanical, Roof, Mold, Radon, Termites, Pool, Well & Septic, Wind Mitigation, etc
No, the inspector will email you a very detailed report with photos and a summary of items that need attention.
Lawyers for real estate transactions are not the normal and customary way most real estate in Naples is sold. Once I have successfully obtained all the signatures needed on the contracts I prepared, I send them to a local Title Company of your choice or if you do not know one, I am happy to recommend one. The title company will do all the detailed research on the transaction to obtain survey, clear title and lien searches as well as HOA application, Estoppel, and prorations of dues. They will then have their in-house attorney review the title work to be triple sure the property is free from any encumbrances and is able to be transferred. The Title company will then prepare the closing documents for you to sign either in Naples, in Person, or can easily be mailed to your northern home with arrangements for a local notary to help you sign them.
We have 4 to choose from. There are the Florida Association of Realtors forms for AS-IS and Standard, which are universally accepted throughout the state of Florida. Or we can use our locally approved and recognized Naples area board of realtor’s contracts called the AS-IS or Standard, which is the most commonly chosen and accepted in our area as it is customized to our specific County.
This will require a detailed conversation as there are many differences between the two. Each has a specific purpose and the choice of contract should reflect the property being purchased and the type of offer being placed along with the specific needs of the Buyer. You are welcome to read a copy of each anytime to become familiar with them.
No, the majority of Florida closings are done by mail.
Title companies in Naples do the majority of the closing documents to close your home. They are extremely important to your transaction. The cost of title insurance is regulated in our state, only their service fee changes from company to company.
This is completely negotiable. I can guide you through this to create a strong offer.
Yes, detailed safety instructions will be given to you when the time comes.
Yes, we will do a final walk-through together before closing.
This is the certificate sent from the HOA to the Title company letting them know that all past HOA dues have been paid and the new Buyer's application has been accepted. Basically, it’s the blessing from the HOA as well as the instructions for prorations to the Title company.
Yes, you may need to give them a deposit if it’s the first time you are applying for certain utilities.
Yes! No state taxes, low property taxes, estate planning and protections, great schools, free or discounted college program called Brighter Futures, great beaches, great weather, lots of sunshine, golf, and boating. But definitely discuss with your professional Accountant to find out what you may qualify for.
Yes, we call it “Homewatch” services. There are many in our area. I’m happy to give recommendations.
With so many part-time homeowners in Naples, a new type of service took root in the early 2000s. The service is offered by many individuals, usually self-employed, some are even retirees who moved here and started their own business as a second career. A Homewatch person would come to your home when you are away, usually weekly or bi-weekly, and would do a very thorough walk around the outside of the home as well as the inside of each room. They are looking from top to bottom and inside of closets, cabinets, windowsills, around toilets and tubs as well as all appliances. They will make detailed notes and take pictures if necessary. Most will send you a weekly email with the update and can coordinate any repairs that may be necessary. This industry is a lifesaver for any absentee homeowner and I highly recommend you consider using a reputable professional if you plan not to be here for an extended period of time. I have several referrals I can recommend to you. Their fees will range on the size of your home and the frequency of their visits as well as the scope of items you request. That range can be from $25-$60 a week. They also offer add-ons such as starting your car in the garage, bringing in garbage cans, groceries, cribs, airport pick-up, and coordinating shutters to be put up and taken down.