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
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
Fl Keys Building Contractors
Yourself and Your Home ! Hire a Licensed Contractor !
you know that Monroe County requires all contractors to hold
a Certificate of Competency (a-k-a
Contractor's License) in their trade, as well as Liability and Worker's
you know there is NO "Handyman"license
in Monroe County? Here are some of the reasons why you should
always hire a licensed contractor:
the work performed by the unlicensed contractor is unsafe,
does not meet code, or is left unfinished, you may have no
the unlicensed contractor or his employee(s) is/are injured
on your property, you may be liable-
hiring an unlicensed contractor you are subject to a citation
in the amount of $150-00 for aiding and abetting unlicensed
unlicensed contractor is subject to a citation in the amount
of $500-00 for not having a Certificate of Competency and/or
proper insurance as required under Monroe County law-
project will be stopped, and if applicable, after-the-fact
fines may be assessed for work done without benefit of a permit-
confuse an "occupational license" for a Certificate
of Competency- If your contractor is licensed, they
will be able to provide you with proof, and be happy to do
FOLLOWING TRADES REQUIRE A CERTIFICATE OF COMPETENCY
sealing and coating
ventilation and A/C duct installation
home maintenance and repair
home set-up and tie-down
TV antenna, telephone and other communications equipment
reinforcing and iron
marble and terrazzo
and roof painting
you are unsure about whom you're hiring, or need to check
a license, please contact any of the following offices:
County Building Department
County Code Enforcement
Florida Homestead exemption
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
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
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
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
The buying process in the Keys
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 to broaden
your understanding of what is important 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 have 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 January/1996, 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
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 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
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