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Buying Steps

southwest florida home buyers info


southwest florida home buyers info

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Canadian Buyers Guide
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Frequently Asked


Canadian Buyers Guide
1. What area does Southwest Coast Realty service?

Lee and Collier County in beautiful subtropical SW Florida and includes Naples, Fort Myers, Estero, Bonita Springs, Marco Island, Fort Myers Beach, and Cape Coral

Canadian Buyers Guide
2. What are single family homeowners insurance cost estimates?

For a 2000 square foot home, the annual premium will run around $1,200 to $1,900 per year. Discounts will be given if the home is equipped with hurricane shutters or high impact glass, alarm system, tile roof.

Canadian Buyers Guide
3. What are the annual property tax estimates?

In Lee County (Ft. Myers, Bonita, Estero, Cape Coral) the taxes are estimated at 1.5%-2% of assessed value and Collier County (Naples) the taxes are estimated at 1.25% of assessed value. A 10% annual assessment cap for non-homestead property (this includes all non- residents from out of state or out of country) was passed on 1/29/08. What this means is that they cannot increase your assessed value by more than 10% per year. So your taxes cannot be raised by more than 10% per year if millage rate does not change.

Canadian Buyers Guide
4. What are HOA fees?

Homeowner association fees are basically the cost of running a community and are paid by the home owners in that community. The homeowners vote the association board and the board hires a community manager. Fees typically run around $35 per month (no lawn service) to as much as $200 or more per month (lawn service). The fee depends on the services included such as lawn care, trimming shrubs, cable TV, and irrigation water. If the community has a MASTER HOME OWNERS ASSOCIATION FEE, the fee could range from $50 per year to $10,000 per year depending on the community and amenities. The master association manages the community common areas and could include a club, golf course, fitness center, tennis courts, community pool, gate house and more. Smaller communities would have just one HOA fee. Larger ones would have a neighborhood HOA and a master HOA fee.

Canadian Buyers Guide
5. What are neighborhood condo fee estimates?

Condo fees typically run around $300 per month to as much as $2000 per month. The fee depends on the community amenities offered and also the size of the condo and the units per building. The fee usually includes cable TV, outside building maintenance, outside insurance, lawn care, building reserves, management, and common area maintenance. The condo owner will be responsible for the contents inside the walls and will need contents insurance. This will run around $400-$700 per year.

Canadian Buyers Guide
6. Are there direct flights to SW Florida?

Yes, SW Florida international offers direct flights from most major east coast cities. If you see properties on the internet that you would like to see, plan a trip if you haven't done so. Once you arrive, I will take you out and show you your best opportunities based on your criteria, and help you through the total purchasing process. My customers tell me that after the purchase, they are very satisfied with the simplicity and smoothness of the step by step purchasing process which I oversee on their behalf. Most say it is the smoothest real estate transaction that they have ever experienced.

Canadian Buyers Guide
7. Are foreclosures easy to purchase?

Yes, in most cases if the seller does not get multiple offers at the same time. When you purchase a foreclosure, you get the right to inspect the property during the inspection period. The property is sold AS-IS. You get title insurance that will insure the title against and past liens and defects. Annual property taxes and association fees (if any) are prorated in most cases. It is highly recommended that you are represented by a local real estate attorney who I can put you in contact with. Purchasing a foreclosure is simple and there are great deals out there. The best deals are on the market only a few days and could get multiple offers. The seller will ask for highest and best from the bidders.

Canadian Buyers Guide
8. What are short sales?

*Listings may include short sales. Short sales are pre foreclosure listings and are contingent on the seller's lender (s) approving the purchase contract. Short sales are sold as-is with the right to inspect. A short sale will have time constraints (could take a year to close) with 3 possible outcomes: 1. Lender (s) approves purchase contract. 2. Lender (s) counters the purchase contract price and or terms. 3. Time given lender (s) by buyer to approve purchase contract expires and lender (s) does not respond There are many great deals out there with a short sale, but short sales have a 25% chance of closing in this market.

Canadian Buyers Guide
9. What do I need to make a cash offer on a property?

Cash offers on foreclosures, short sales, and new construction requires proof of funds. This would need to be on bank letterhead and show the amount of liquid funds equal to or higher than the purchase price. The letter would need to be signed and dated by a bank officer. No account numbers please

Canadian Buyers Guide
10. What form of escrow deposit do I need to make an Offer On a property?

Escrow deposits can be wired upon seller acceptance, so you do not need cash or a personal check to make an offer.

Canadian Buyers Guide
11. How Should I title my new property?

Please talk to your accountant or attorney as to how you should title your property. There may be tax savings when you sell your property by how you have the property titled.

Canadian Buyers Guide
12. What types of investment property do you offer in SW Florida?

We have many investment properties in SW Florida. The area offers both seasonal and annual rental potential properties. There is a very high demand for furnished seasonal rental properties for January, February and March. Annual unfurnished rentals are also in high demand, especially newer single family homes. Please contact us for more information on our high rental potential properties. If you are not ready to retire and use your property, this may be the perfect solution. Buy while the prices are low and rent till you have time to enjoy it yourself.

Don't expect good rent potential in the off season. Such as using your seasonal property in season then expecting to rent it to someone off season. Our season is short, which is Jan, Feb, and Mar.

Canadian Buyers Guide
13. What are water and power cost?

Condo fees usually include the water usage. Single family water bills may include lawn irrigation water. Regardless if you have a home or condo, the air conditioning system will need to run most of the year to prevent mold issues. The utility bill amount depends on the size if the home or condo.

Canadian Buyers Guide
14. What is a humidistat?

It is an energy saving device. Attaches to your thermostat and controls the air conditioning system according to the inside humidity levels. A humidistat is great tool to save energy while you are away. An example would be the room temp could be 85F and the air conditioning system will not run unless the inside humidity reaches a certain level. The cost is less than $200 for a humidistat.

Canadian Buyers Guide
15. How is the weather in SW Florida?

SW Florida is subtropical, meaning that the weather is warmer here than other parts of Florida that are north of here. This makes a big difference during season. (Jan, Feb, and March) So when you think you are getting a better deal in central and northern Florida, there is more to it than dollars. We have green grass and flowers year around and the warmest winter weather on mainland Florida! The Tampa/St. Pete, Orlando, and Sarasota areas could be as much as 8-10 degrees cooler in the winter since they are above the frost line.

Canadian Buyers Guide
16. Insurance?

Condo ownership requires contents insurance and single family ownership requires a homeowners policy to cover the exterior of the home and the interior contents. You will get insurance discounts for purchasing a hurricane code home. You will get more discounts for purchasing a home with a tile roof rather than an asphalt shingle roof.

Canadian Buyers Guide
17. Flood Zones?

If the home you purchase is located in a flood zone and you have a mortgage, you will be required to purchase flood insurance. Flood insurance could add 25% or more to your insurance premium.

Canadian Buyers Guide
18. What about hurricanes? How often do the come?

The last major hurricane to hit Southwest Florida was Erma on September 10, 2017. Erma was a major hurricane that made landfall on Marco Island and moved through Naples before weakening. Erma was the strongest hurricane to hit the area in many years. Many roofs were severely damaged and the storm caused major landscape damage. Charley, a weaker hurricane, made landfall on Sanibel and Captiva Islands in 2004 and Wilma was a direct hit on Naples and Marco Island in 2005. Prior to Charlie in 2004, Donna hit in 1960. Charley went through Lee County and caused major property damage. Most of the damage was to roofs, landscaping and pool cages. Wilma went through Collier County and caused mostly landscaping damage, damage to roofs, and pool cages. Power outage was a major problem with both hurricanes, but the home damage was limited because many of the homes in the area are newer and were built to new 2002 hurricane codes and many older homes been retrofitted with hurricane shutters or high impact glass.

Canadian Buyers Guide
19. What is defective/Chinese drywall?

Defective drywall was used in some homes built or renovated from 2004-2007. This is a result of drywall supply shortages during the real estate boom which resulted in imports from countries including China to maintain supply. Unknown to builders until home defects started showing up months later after the home was completed. Defective drywall has caused air conditioners to fail, electrical wiring to fail, plumbing fixtures to corrode, and unknown health effects. Be sure to have the home you are purchasing is inspected for visible evidence of defective drywall.

Canadian Buyers Guide
20. When buying a new Home or condo should I be represented by a buyers agent?

The developers have been selling record new homes and condos since 2008 when they drastically cut their prices after the bust and sold through inventory. Established developers are finishing communities that were started by other developers and breaking ground on new developments. The developers in SW Florida welcome a buyer’s agent that will represent the buyer’s best interest. Builders are offering great incentives now and you need to take a look. We have the total database of new homes and condos in SW Florida. Let us take you to the developments that best fit your criteria. Call us today.

Canadian Buyers Guide
21. Should I hire a real estate attorney to represent me?

It is optional, but I would suggest that a buyer be represented by a real estate attorney to make a purchase, especially foreclosures and short sales. The exception would be new production home purchases. The cost is about $950 per transaction.

Canadian Buyers Guide
22. What is a lanai and rear exposure?

A lanai is our name for a covered and screened rear patio. This is the most important outside area of most homes we have in SW Florida. Most vacationers like to spend time out in this area during the winter months to enjoy the great weather and sunshine. Rear exposure is the direction of view from the lanai in the rear of the home or condo. The most desired exposure is towards the Southwest or South, where you will have sun all day on your lanai. Eastern exposure is optimal for morning sun while Western great for sunsets. Northern exposure is the least desirable since the sun will be blocked most of the day.

Canadian Buyers Guide
23. FIRPTA-Withholding of Tax on Dispositions of United States Real Property Interests

The disposition of a U.S. real property interest by a foreign person (the transferor) is subject to the Foreign Investment in Real Property Tax Act of 1980 (FIRPTA) income tax withholding. FIRPTA authorized the United States to tax foreign persons on dispositions of U.S. real property interests.
A disposition means “disposition” for any purpose of the Internal Revenue Code. This includes but is not limited to a sale or exchange, liquidation, redemption, gift, transfers, etc. Persons purchasing U.S. real property interests (transferees) from foreign persons, certain purchasers' agents, and settlement officers are required to withhold 15% of the amount realized on the disposition (special rules for foreign corporations). Exceptions
Reporting and Paying
Withholding Certificates
Format for Applications
Definitions of terms


Purchasing Steps

1. Search

Search best fitting criteria properties on internet and narrow down property types to condo or single family home. Narrow down property purchase reason: vacation home or investment or a combination investment/vacation home.

2. Viewing

View Property and Make Offer Seller discloses all fees and assessments to Buyer prior to making an offer. Most offers include a small initial escrow deposit. This escrow deposit must be in US funds and can be wired upon acceptance.

3. Contract

Seller accepts offer and offer becomes a contract. The seller will usually ask for an additional escrow deposit that brings the total deposit up to 10% of purchase price in a few days from contract date (effective date). Condo sale subject to documents review. 3 business days for a resale condo and 15 calendar days for new condo (this is for condo only) Good idea to write in review of HOA documents if SF home in HOA. Send copy of contract to local real estate attorney to represent buyer through to closing.

4. Inspect

Home inspection usually reveals a few defective items and buyer request Seller to repair or replace them prior to closing. If you are purchasing a new home from a builder then the builder will give a one to two year warranty to Buyer. If you are purchasing a foreclosure or short sale the sale is as-is with right to inspect with a short inspection period after effective sales contract. Home inspection team will check for evidence of "defective drywall" on all home inspections. Home inspection options: mechanical, termite, radon, air quality.

5. Final Walk

Final walkthrough prior to closing, the buyer is allowed walkthrough. During the walk thru, the defective item repair/replacements are checked along with the furniture inventory list if sold furnished. In case of new construction, a punch list is made of items to be repaired prior to closing or within the warranty period.

6. Check List

Prior to closing buyer sets up utilities(power, water), and optional services such as pool service, home watch service, lawncare service if applicable.
Closing statement(HUD) review. Buyer and seller review HUD statement which show seller's expenses and proceeds, along with Buyers expenses and final payment amount.

7. Closing

All contingencies have been met and buyer and seller agree to close. Can be a mail away closing. In Florida, the closing will occur with a title agency or attorneys office. The party paying the title insurance will pick the place of closing. Taxes, fees, assessments are all prorated on the date of closing. It is highly suggested that the locks be changed after closing. We look forward to providing high quality real estate service to you after closing!



Real Estate Attorney

9132 Strada Place - Fourth Floor
Naples, Florida 34108
Office (239) 552-4114
(239) 784-2287

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NAPLES, FL 34103

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Home Watch

Neapolitan Home Watch, LCC
Paul and Holly
Naples, Florida

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Pool Builder

Pinnacle Pools

Pool Service

Vista Pools

Home Inspection

The Homes Team

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Government - Healthcare

Single Agent


I will represent the buyer at no cost to them. I am paid by the seller on a resale transaction and by the developer on a new home community transaction. If you buy a resale property with me, I will help you negotiate the best price, saving you money. If you buy in a new home community, the price is the same whether you are represented by me or not, but I am aware of the potential incentives that may be available that builders don't always tell you about, and I will help you find the best location within the community.

If you do not use a buyers agent to represent you, you have no one else looking out for your best interest in the transaction. Listing agents work for the seller to get the highest price possible on a resale, and a new home community site sale representative works for the best interest of the developers only.

Let me help you understand the market price before making an offer on a resale so you don't over pay. Know your rights as a buyer. Purchase agreement always explained before signing. Know about real estate taxes, HOA fees, closing cost, home inspections, mortgages, and appreciation potential. Know that there are other available properties in the area that best fit your criteria before you make an offer on a certain property.

Ken O'Brian

Single Agent

State of Florida Disclosure

As a single agent, Southwest Coast Realty, Inc., owe to you the following duties:
1. Dealing honestly and fairly;
2. Loyalty;
3. Confidentiality;
4. Obedience;
5. Full disclosure;
6. Accounting for all funds;
7. Skill, care, and diligence in the transaction;
8. Presenting all offers and counteroffers in a timely manner, unless a party has previously directed the licensee
otherwise in writing; and
9. Disclosing all known facts that materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable.


Market Report

Naples Real Estate Market Sees Another Record Month in Closings


Naples, Fla. (November 20, 2020) - According to the October 2020 Market Report, released by the Naples Area Board of REALTORS® (NABOR®), which tracks home listings and sales within Collier County (excluding Marco Island), the Naples real estate market continues to see strong demand in both the single family and condominium markets. Buyers are getting a jump on the winter seasonal market as shown by the reduced inventory, increase in multiple bids and the jump in closed sales. Closed sales activity for the overall market increased 65.2 percent to 1,249 closed sales in October 2020 from 756 closed sales in October 2019.

Inventory continues to be a challenge for buyers seeking to purchase a home in Naples. While the overall market inventory in October 2020 decreased 33.8 percent to 3,543 from 5,351 in October 2019, overall pending sales for the same time period increased 73.0 percent to 1,708 from 987 in October 2019. With strong demand, sellers are receiving multiple competitive offers on their listings during what is a traditionally slower time of year. Offers are coming in more quickly as well, with homes sold during October 2020 staying on the market 11.5 percent fewer days than October 2019. The average number of days on the market until sale was 92 in October 2020 compared to 104 days in October 2020.

The October Market Report showed that single-family homes saw an increase in the median closed sales price of 12.1 percent to $458,000 during January to October 2020, up from $408,500 during the same period in 2019. Condominium median closed sales prices also saw an uptick of 5.8 percent to $275,000 during January to October 2020, over $260,000 during the same period in 2019.

The NABOR® October 2020 Market Reports provide comparisons of single-family home and condominium sales (via the Southwest Florida MLS), price ranges, and geographic segmentation and includes an overall market summary. NABOR® sales statistics are presented in chart format, including these overall (single-family and condominium) findings:


Oct 2019

Oct 2020


Total closed sales (month/month)




Total pending sales (homes under contract) (month/month)




Median closed price (month/month)




Total active listings (inventory)




Average days on market 




Single-family closed sales (month/month)




Single-family median closed price (month/month)




Single-family inventory




Condominium closed sales (month/month)




Condominium median closed price (month/month)




Condominium inventory





View the Naples October 2020 Market Statistics

View the Fort Myers Area Single Family October 2020 Market Statistics

View the Fort Myers Area Condo/Townhome October 2020 Market Statistics