So, you’re thinking about buying a Florida home. Most articles you’ll find on this topic are going to walk you through the process of finding an agent, looking into neighborhoods, and getting pre-qualified.
But before you do any of that, you need to think about the type of Florida home you want to buy (and your budget).
Taking care of a Florida house isn’t even close to how you’ve maintained your house through the seasons in your northern home. And that’s mostly because we don’t really have traditional seasons here in Florida.
Instead, you need to consider what the upkeep costs might be, insurance, and what you can negotiate in terms of closing costs. And, of course, location is everything when you’re buying a home in Florida.
Before Buying a Florida Home: Understand Our Weather
To be fair, we don’t even understand our weather sometimes. Just expect to have a nice cool breeze from October to May with a couple of weekends of cold fronts somewhere in between. Then from May-September, brace yourself for an almost unbearable heat— and some rain.
Now, that heat and rain will be the primary factors you should consider when picking out your new home. It’s important to note that you’ll use your AC a lot more during the summer months, and pests can get out of hand when there’s a lot of downpours. Ah downpours, often these show up like clockwork. In fact, we have our own unofficial monsoon season (we just call it the rainy season), and it has recently been calculated to officially begin on May 25th.
Speaking of downpours, let’s talk about hurricanes. Hurricanes don’t hit us as often as people think. But when they do, it’s hard to predict how your home will weather the storm. That’s why factors such as windows, roofs, and event the type of build are going to play a pivotal role in choosing a house.
This fickle weather means that you should make sure that the Florida house you’re looking into has its interior and exterior basis covered.
What To Expect For The Interior of Your Florida Home
Let’s pretend you’re touring the first of many potential Florida homes. What should you ask your agent or Realtor®, and what should you keep an eye out for?
Here are some things to factor into your decision-making before purchasing a house in Florida.
If the house is older, ask when the last time the AC was replaced or inspected. Older homes are inherently less efficient, and older AC systems may have a harder time keeping up with the Florida heat.
Trust us, when buying a house here, an excellent AC system should be at the top of your list (if you want to survive the summer, anyway ;D).
Keep an eye out for common Florida pests. We’re talking ants, spiders, fleas, ticks, termites and roaches, just to name a few.
Ants, in particular, can cause issues, especially during the rainy season. Ants called “crazy ants” are attracted to electrical currents, like the ones in your air conditioning unit. When one too many of these ants find their way into your warm, cozy AC unit, it can cause your wires to short circuit. And nobody needs that kind of stress during the summer months.
Crazy ants are common in Florida, so look over the AC to see if there’s a colony of ants swarming nearby. If so, remember to keep in mind that you may have to hire pest control after buying your Florida home.
Termites are also a constant threat. Make sure you arrange for a Wood Destroying Organism (WDO) inspection when arranging your inspections for buying a home here. That’s a different inspection than the home inspection itself, so the home inspector likely will not inspect for this, but it’s important not to overlook this one. Make sure to arrange a WDO inspection. Your home inspector or agent may even be able to suggest a company and arrange them for you.
Above all, it’s important to remember that although we love living here, we’re absolutely on their turf. Regular professional pest control services are a necessity you should budget for when living in Florida.
What To Expect For The Exterior of Your Florida Home
We do things differently here in Florida, and construction is no different. We have a unique, sometimes brutal climate and weather. So the way we build our houses reflects those conditions.
Here are three more things to think about when you’re buying a house in Florida:
3. CMU Walls
CMU stands for Concrete Masonry Unit’s. In simpler terms, it’s Concrete Block Construction. You’ll find that we build most modern Central and South Florida homes with concrete blocks walls because of the threat of hurricane impacts. Naturally, cement blocks are going to hold up against impacts in 120+ mph winds better than wooden structures. However, a good wood frame structure still has it’s merit and has more strength than you might believe if it’s engineered correctly.
You won’t find many wood-framing homes except in the north part of the state or older homes. However, some houses in Florida combine CMUs with wood construction. Generally, concrete blocks make up the first floor, and the second story will have wood framing.
RELATED: FLORIDA HOME MAINTENANCE CHECKLIST
When you’re buying a home in Florida, there is one aspect that sticks out more than others:
STUCCO! Lots of stucco!
Stucco is a cement-based siding that is prevalent in across Florida homes. You’ll recognize it from the hard, textured exterior façade that most homes here have.
The problem with stucco is that, like all cement products, it is porous. If it’s not properly maintained, water can seep into the stucco and lead to issues such as mold, termites, or structural damage. Keep these things in mind when you look into buying a Florida home. The best maintenance for stucco is well maintained exterior painting. Which leads us to the final topic.
And with stucco, you also have to consider the painting of your home. Paint is the main water defense in block/stucco walls homes.
Because it rains plenty in Florida, you’ll need to paint your home’s exterior more often. If you rub your hand on a stucco wall and it is “chalky,” it’s time to paint! You should expect to paint the exterior of the home every 5-6 years or so. If you see hairline cracks in your stucco, know that this is common and not necessarily an indication of a scary problem. In fact, some cracks are to be expected. What is critical is that they are patched and painted, to prevent moisture intrusion. This is a big part of proper home maintenance in Florida.