Estate agents in Florida must be licensed and the industry is highly regulated. After attending mandatory classes a 100 question examination must be passed, and there are periodic extensive re-exams. Agents must operate under a broker - an experienced person who has passed the even tougher broker’s exam.
After becoming a broker, Kati then became a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS) - the highest designation for international brokers. She is also a licensed Mortgage Broker and can arrange mortgages in England or America to suit your situation.
Unlike the UK, buying and selling does not require a solicitor, although you can use one if you like, and is much quicker. The broker handles the complete transaction, engaging specialists, like title search, valuers, inspectors, etc. We therefore strongly advise anyone buying any investment property to check ALL licenses, and ask if the broker has CIPS designation. Using a licensed agent gives you recourse through the Florida Real Estate Commission, if anything goes wrong - and it certainly can!
CAVEAT EMPTOR ! Adverts appear frequently in British newspapers for “Investment villas near Orlando,” and sales-people accompany buyers to Florida, to make sure you don’t meet anyone they don’t want you to meet. Unless the agent is licensed in Florida this is illegal, even thought the agent may be a British estate agent. If the agent is not licensed here you may find yourself with little or no recourse in the event of a problem, even a simple one like furniture and fittings not being what you ordered. DON’T BE AFRAID - ASK TO SEE THEIR FLORIDA LICENSE!
WHY NOT BUY DIRECT FROM A BUILDER?
We never cease to be amazed how many people from overseas, (not just The UK either), decide to buy a house from a builder with whom they have absolutely no experience, or even bother to check his reputation. They put down their deposit, then fly home and happily tell friends they have bought a dream house in Orlando. A caring friend might ask “who’s checking on the building quality?” and the answer is usually, “well nobody - but we trust them.”
It is irresponsible not to have a qualified person oversee the building, check the structure and materials used in one of the biggest investments you probably ever made. Are the fittings what were paid for, is it the correct cooker, are the doors even in the right place? You would be surprised! It is true a building inspector will make periodic visits, but he is only interested in code compliance, and not the rest of a very complicated structure, comprising the whole house.
If the same buyers were having a house built in their own country, they would be visiting the site every weekend, no doubt finding many things which they would query with the builder.
A good real estate agent will “keep tabs” on your new investment, sending you photographs from time to time, and generally making sure the place is being built to your wishes. There are a thousand things which can go unnoticed - nothing to do with the building inspector - and which sometimes cannot be rectified past a certain stage.
We will be pleased to offer references to anyone who doubts this, from very grateful clients we have saved from a multitude of problems and heartaches, which they would otherwise have to sort out themselves.