Legal Things to Understand When Selling a Florida Home
It is different selling a Florida home than selling one in any other state. This is both in terms of laws and traditional procedures. Here are some important facts to know.
Contract Forms Used for a Florida Home Sale
Most Florida home sellers or their real estate agents use:
- FR or Florida Realtors, formerly Florida Association of Realtors, form
- FR/BAR or Florida Realtors/Florida Bar form
An example of these are the Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase or the “AS IS” Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase.
The main differences between these two forms are the parties’ rights and obligations regarding the inspections and the condition of the house. With an “As Is” contract, a seller could be released from certain obligations about the condition of the house. With the Residential Contract for Sale and Purchase, on the other hand, the buyer could try negotiating for a reduction in price for certain repairs.
Important Topics Covered in the Florida Home Purchase and Sale Contract
Pay particular attention, when you review the contract, to the following language and clauses.
- Personal Property — Make sure to list any personal property that you and the buyer decide will be included in the sale. Also, make sure to note any fixtures that you intend to remove.
- Price — The contract will say how much the buyer will pay, the amount financed, and the balance to be paid at closing. Just confirm the amounts are correct.
- Financing Contingency — Buyers can add that they must get approved for a loan with a specific interest rate for a certain amount. Their terms need to be realistic so you don’t give buyers an easy out. If financing is not in the contract as a contingency, then the buyer is legally required to close whether or not they have loan approval.
- Closing Date — In Florida, this is usually 30 days. Some lenders, however, may take longer to approve the loan. You should be prepared for your buyer to ask for an extension.
- Inspection — The buyer has the right to inspect the property, under the contract. They can bring in one or more inspectors or contractors. If you have to fix something, try to decide on a reasonable amount of time to have it done with the buyer. If you do not want to fix the problem, make sure you have the right to cancel and return the buyer’s deposit. Remember the contractual timeline for when you need to notify the buyer of your decision. You might be required to fix the problem if you wait too long. Your real estate agent should recommend how much concessions you should offer to close the sale.
- Title and Survey — Your contract will say who is responsible for getting the title insurance and how long the buyer has to review it and its contents. Once you provide a survey, the contract will state how long the buyer has to dispute it.
- Riders — The FR/BAR forms have a few optional riders, for things like condominiums, homeowners’ associations, and seller financing. Some might not be needed for your situation.
Duty to Disclose
Sellers in Florida, unlike in some other states, must disclose any known defects on the property. They must also disclose defects they should have known about.
Closing Process for a Florida Home Purchase
The closing, when you formally transfer the property to the new owner, can happen at any location. An attorney or a title company, typically, handles the closing.
The closing agent will:
- Prepare the forms, including the standard documents for title transfers
- Records the documents with the county
- Disburses the money
A closing agent cannot not give you legal advice unless they are your attorney. Hire an attorney if you do not understand what you to sign or the calculations.
For more questions on selling a Florida home, give us a call. We’d love to help you understand the process.