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Old 04-20-2010, 08:59 PM   #21
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That's great information, Kroeran! Thanks!!! Any of us considering Florida can use your list here of things to watch out for.
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Old 04-21-2010, 12:36 PM   #22
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Very useful thread. Thanks all.
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Old 04-21-2010, 08:37 PM   #23
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Here's what's scaring me at this point about moving to Florida: I chose an area and want a condo, because it's just me and I plan to travel alot so why get a house; however, I hear not to get a condo because--should there be a hurricane or storm again that causes flooding--you could be stuck with a huge bill by the HOA for what wasn't covered by the building insurance, I guess. And I also get messages that so many condos have gone bust down there that--being unable to get filled up with enough folks--they ended up just being torn down. Or people might move out of the condo section and you will end alone there with all the bills and so forth.
Good grief...it seems everywhere I turn regarding living in Florida I get a barrage of negatives as to be careful, be cautious, don't do it--and these are from the Florida NATIVES who have lived thru the hurricanes AND the recession hitting their State. It's making it very difficult for me not to get cold feet, in fact, my toes are getting frosty as I type. I'm at a point that I....just...don't...know...what...to...do...at this point other than pick another State.
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Old 04-22-2010, 09:06 AM   #24
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Hi Orchidflower

Take a deep breath. Now relax. There’s nothing wrong with your plan and no excessive risk about buying a condo in Florida. The fact that there are problems in some areas mean that some of the better quality properties are also well priced.

There are lots of nice areas with condos in Fl that are fully occupied and well managed and no riskier than a condo in any other part of the country. You just need to shop smartly – which you are doubtlessly able to do.

If you have the opportunity to rent for a year it would let you get to know an area much better, search locally for property and also make it much easier to carry out due diligence once you start choosing specific properties.

Kroeran has some good pointers. The information you need to choose or eliminate specific properties is readily available. HOA minutes and financial reports, combined with your own inspections, tell you most of what you need to know. Specific questions to HOA boards – like how many owners in arrears, how many units in foreclosure – help as well. Avoiding communities that were substantially developed in the past 6 years and also avoiding buildings that were built after 2005 will greatly reduce your risk.

You may find fine options in other states like (cough) TX or the Carolinas but there is no reason to avoid Fl. All purchases are risky. You give your self the greatest advantage by taking your time, doing due diligence and if possible, living locally for a year.
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Old 04-22-2010, 10:03 AM   #25
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Hi Orchidflower

Take a deep breath. Now relax. There’s nothing wrong with your plan and no excessive risk about buying a condo in Florida. The fact that there are problems in some areas mean that some of the better quality properties are also well priced.

There are lots of nice areas with condos in Fl that are fully occupied and well managed and no riskier than a condo in any other part of the country. You just need to shop smartly – which you are doubtlessly able to do.

If you have the opportunity to rent for a year it would let you get to know an area much better, search locally for property and also make it much easier to carry out due diligence once you start choosing specific properties.

Kroeran has some good pointers. The information you need to choose or eliminate specific properties is readily available. HOA minutes and financial reports, combined with your own inspections, tell you most of what you need to know. Specific questions to HOA boards – like how many owners in arrears, how many units in foreclosure – help as well. Avoiding communities that were substantially developed in the past 6 years and also avoiding buildings that were built after 2005 will greatly reduce your risk.

You may find fine options in other states like (cough) TX or the Carolinas but there is no reason to avoid Fl. All purchases are risky. You give your self the greatest advantage by taking your time, doing due diligence and if possible, living locally for a year.

2004 and before seems ok then? I have been looking at condos just a little older cause they are so much cheaper (like 1998+/-) and already established.

I agree that the wise thing to do is rent for a year, but, as a single woman, the idea of packing up a second time does not thrill me at all. When I moved up north 6 years ago, due to circumstances, I had to move 3 times in a year and a half...ugh...may I repeat that? Ugh!
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Old 04-22-2010, 12:50 PM   #26
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2004 and before seems ok then? I have been looking at condos just a little older cause they are so much cheaper (like 1998+/-) and already established.

I agree that the wise thing to do is rent for a year, but, as a single woman, the idea of packing up a second time does not thrill me at all. When I moved up north 6 years ago, due to circumstances, I had to move 3 times in a year and a half...ugh...may I repeat that? Ugh!
I don’t want to generalize too much. Older places have their share of problems as well, but they are more of the “too much refinancing” type. The problems you mention – buildings without enough owners, HOA closing – these are more likely in buildings built after ’06, when things got really bubbly, and owners simply backed out or walked away. Either way, the HOA has to publish financial statements and answer your specific questions, and if they can’t, or won’t, well that’s a clear sign of trouble.

Moving, renting, moving again – it is a PITA. (My DW told me that my next move will be as a single man) It is easy advice to give but that doesn't make it any less worthwhile. A big advantage is you get to spend a year eyeballing the properties, the neighborhoods, local business, the traffic and also get a much better feel for personal security and local financial issues.

You can still do much of that from afar. Like Kroeran suggested – city data florida and other forums. Look at local bond issues – their credit ratings tell you so much. By now most of the financial issues communities are dealing with are out in the open - you just need to start reading local or regional press.

Just to be clear – I’m not trying to sell FL, but there aren’t any issues here that you won’t fine elsewhere. Don't know if prices are competitive but they sure are down a lot.
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Old 04-23-2010, 10:51 AM   #27
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I agree that the wise thing to do is rent for a year, but, as a single woman, the idea of packing up a second time does not thrill me at all. When I moved up north 6 years ago, due to circumstances, I had to move 3 times in a year and a half...ugh...may I repeat that? Ugh!
Why not book a seasonal rental and keep your place up north. What you save in an eventual purchase could more than compensate for the added cost.

The best alternative would be a seasonal rental in a prospective building but that will be harder because most of those are likely recent buildings. There is no better time to be a knowledgable prospective purchaser in Florida.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:12 PM   #28
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I received my Florida property tax trim notice today. Had a good laugh although it's not funny.

They lowered the value of my house by 45K and raised the tax rate so my taxes went up 50 bucks for the year. Amazing what the government can do. Thank God the new politicians running for office are all going to lower are taxes when elected.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:24 PM   #29
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Bet you're relieved they lowered your valuation instead of screwing you with some sort of sleight of hand.
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Old 08-27-2010, 09:55 PM   #30
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Yup, I'm telling all my friends to move to Florida, move there money to AG Edwards, buy annuities and whole life policies. Oh yeah, and don't forget to vote.
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Old 08-28-2010, 09:12 AM   #31
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I received my Florida property tax trim notice today. Had a good laugh although it's not funny.

They lowered the value of my house by 45K and raised the tax rate so my taxes went up 50 bucks for the year. Amazing what the government can do. Thank God the new politicians running for office are all going to lower are taxes when elected.
RIGHT!
My Florida property tax bill was down 6% in ’09 and another 16% this year. Property taxes are still unfairly burdened on more recent homebuyers but the difference is falling, and will probably continue to do so for another couple of years. Good.
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:31 AM   #32
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My Florida property tax bill was down 6% in ’09 and another 16% this year. Property taxes are still unfairly burdened on more recent homebuyers but the difference is falling, and will probably continue to do so for another couple of years. Good.
yes, my Lee County taxes are down in that range as well

some smart money that can afford otherwise rents in Florida and stashes the house equity dollars somewhere else
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Old 08-28-2010, 11:35 AM   #33
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Yup, I'm telling all my friends to move to Florida, move there money to AG Edwards, buy annuities and whole life policies. Oh yeah, and don't forget to vote.
are you also opposed to simple vanilla annuities as a hedge against outliving your money?
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Old 08-28-2010, 05:34 PM   #34
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are you also opposed to simple vanilla annuities as a hedge against outliving your money?
Yup, any investment that has anything to do with an insurance company is not for me. I'd rather work than buy and annuity.
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Old 08-29-2010, 01:11 PM   #35
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Our property taxes were down 10% last year.

Get a reputable realtor who can help steer you through the details.

Of the 3 states we lived in over the past 20 years, Fla was no more or less complicated from a tax or any other standpoint. Every state has its eccentricities. From a global cost of living standpoint, there wasn't a difference large enough to factor into our decisions. And that absence of an income tax in my peak earning years was helpful (won't hurt during ER either).

My advice is to find a place you want to live the most and understand but don't exaggerate the other stuff when decision time comes around. And be aware that Florida's regions are very different from one another, maybe more than in many states, so check out the panhandle, South Florida, and the Gulf Coast areas if you are interested.
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Old 08-29-2010, 06:17 PM   #36
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I still contend that they just make up #'s and hope for the best and see if you'll pay it with out complaining.
That's how it generally works in the five county Chicago area....... Oh yeah, they also know how you voted and if you're standing against "The Machine," well, that could cost ya a few bucks too!
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Old 08-30-2010, 08:25 AM   #37
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Yup, any investment that has anything to do with an insurance company is not for me. I'd rather work than buy and annuity.
please educate me on this
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:13 AM   #38
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please educate me on this
I've mentioned this before so I'll give you some brief info.
I was sold 3 Whole Life Policies in my life, all 3 ended up in litigation and class actions because of the way they were sold. I don't believe that any brokers or ins companies are selling these products in my best interest. This has been my experience and I wish I was smarter earlier.

The Judge, ruling on one of the whole life policies awarded me 31K the year before last. When speaking to Mass Mutual they told me my broker had since died. They had another broker call me to form a relationship and the only thing he did was try and convince me to cash in my policy and buy an annuity from him. Do you think he was doing this in my best interest? Or his?
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Old 08-30-2010, 09:42 PM   #39
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ok, I see what happened to you and I can empathize, having been brutalized by a different part of the financial sales sector.

the thing is, these are all guys trying to make a living and pay their mortgage and put kids through school...why would you think they would put your self interest ahead of their own families'? pretty much everyone has to learn this the hard way...including myself.

that being said, simple vanilla non-guaranteed annuities appear to me to be the only way to purchase the equivalent of a defined benefit pension and reduce the risk of outliving your money, and as a strategy for investing money for a naive survivor.

There are no whistles and bells, the deliverable is transparent, and the pricing is very competitive....I am open to being convinced otherwise.

I suspect insurance salesmen hate them, just like they hate me when I stick money in laddered FDIC guaranteed 5 year GICs at 3.5%.
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Old 08-30-2010, 10:27 PM   #40
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I read a little bit of another thread you started about annuities. Seems that the charts end at the end of 08 and that was near the worst down turn in the market in 80 years. I think that if it ran further or a different time frame that the market would out do the annuities.

Yes, I'm glad to hear the money I paid for my whole life policies went to a good cause. Putting the brokers kids through college. I've done my part and I'm moving on, I'll stick with Vanguard and what ever happens happens.
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