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Guide to buying property in Florida

Written by: Clare Nessling
Seen as the land of opportunity, there are plenty of British property investors buying into the American dream and catching the market on the upswing.

Seen as the land of opportunity, there are plenty of British property investors buying into the American dream and catching the market on the upswing.

Everything about the USA is big and bold but with so much diversity, the hardest part could be choosing where to live the American dream. There’s one state which stands out from the rest and appears to ticks all the right boxes for British investors, and that state is Florida.

Home to some of the world’s most popular theme parks, Florida doesn’t just offer fantastic weather, great entertainment and regular flights from the UK; property there still costs a lot less than it did prior to the financial crisis.

Most British buyers are drawn to Orlando, where they can buy a property within a short driving distance of the local airport and enjoy family holidays in the sun. And if the property is within easy travelling distance of the famous theme parks, year-round rental opportunities are good too.

The Gulf coast is also popular, with locations such as Sarasota, St Petersburg, Bradenton and Naples featuring on many a British buyer’s wish list. The Atlantic coast also offers great investment opportunities, with plenty of gated communities to choose from and low prices to take advantage of.

There have been worries over recent years about the stability of the US housing market, with the housing crash of 2007 being the worst in the country’s history. But rising house prices, low mortgage rates and a slowly improving economy have been drawing buyers back to the market, although some moderating influences, such as rising mortgage rates, are expected to lead to a slowdown in home value appreciation, these will also contribute to a more balanced market.

It was the sub-prime mortgage market in the USA that caused the credit crunch to begin with, and as a result, there are plenty of bank-owned properties available at very good prices and this is especially the case in Florida, where there is still a higher number of repossessions.

If you’re not lucky enough to be a cash buyer, finance is still a good option. Mortgages are generally available in Florida for purchases up to 65% of the property’s value, the maximum term is 30 years, and interest rates and loan terms tend to vary depending on the property type and exact location. The minimum loan size is $85,000 in Florida (less than anywhere else in the USA).

Many deals have no Early Repayment Charges so lump sums may be paid off the balance at any time without incurring a penalty.

The USA’s increasing stability and rise in confidence levels are drawing buyers back to the market, and of all the investment opportunities available across the pond, it would appear that no asset class is attracting more attention from overseas investors than property.

Clare Nessling is director of Conti, the overseas mortgage specialist

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