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Seawall Maintenance and Inspections

Hurricane Irma caused damage to many seawalls in Southwest Florida. The images above of seawall damage in Cape Coral all happened during or after Irma.

When purchasing a waterfront property with a seawall, you should hire a professional seawall inspector to evaluate the present condition.

The seawall is an expensive and necessary part of your property and provides an important protective barrier that is most often ignored. If you own a property with a seawall, when was the last time you had a look at it? Have you ever had it professional inspected to determine it’s current condition or the life expectancy of your seawall? Do you have savings set aside to repair the seawall if and when it fails? Your seawall ages slowly over time and usually gives little or no warning that it is starting to fail. If the seawall fails it can take your backyard and possibly your pool or parts of your home right into the water.

Regular seawall maintenance is key, a properly maintained seawall can last from 30-50 years, if the seawall is not properly maintained you can expect to have to fail. If you haven’t had your seawall inspected recently and you are unsure about its condition, here are few ways for you to do your own routine inspection.

1) Do you see any visible cracks on the top cap or along the face of the seawall, are there any portions broken off?

2) Are your slabs leaning? Use a level to see if the top is uneven. If it is leaning toward the water, your deadmen tie-backs may have failed. If it is leaning toward the land, the bottom of the seawall may be kicking out.

3) Are there visible rust stains showing in the face. This is a sign the rebar inside the concete has been exposed to the air and water.

4) Are you losing soil behind the wall? Are there any holes next to the wall? This is usually the first sign you have a problem. This needs to be taken care of immediately, rain water should run off over the top of the seawall, not pool behind the seawall.

If you answered yes to any of the above questions, it is time to call in a professional evaluate your seawall. Seawalls are not typically covered by your insurance, so maintaining your seawall can help you avoid disastrous repair costs.

What are some of the Costs Related to the Sale of your Home

Dollar Sign

At Closing the Title Company will prepare a Settlement Statement outlining the cost for settling the real estate transaction. Some of the cost below will be on this form.

Broker Commissions: The Broker commission agreed upon when the listing agreement was executed will be on the Settlement Statement. I offer discounted total commissions as low as 4%. Please contact me at 239-910-1948 to learn more.

Unpaid Taxes/Liens: The Title Company will do a public lien search and let you know if you owe money to any municipalities. Property Taxes will be prorated from January 1st to your day of closing. You will pay the Buyer the tax owed up to closing and the Buyer will assume the balance owed aft the close date.

Special Assessments: Special assessments are installment payments owed for improvements like water, sewer, road or other local government improvements that were assessed to the property. In most cases they must be paid off at close or more often, they are assumed by the Buyer. It is wise to use a seasoned REALTOR who can determine if these fees can be assumed by the Buyer.

Title Company Fees: The title company will usually have a fee of $250-$500 depending on the complexity of the closing.

Current Mortgage Pay Off: Before the closing, you will sign a release for the Title Company to get the mortgage balance that will be owed on the day of closing. This will allow the Title Company to prepare the Settlement Statement accurately in regards to your mortgage.

Current Home Equity Lines of credit: As with the mortgage pay off, you will have to authorize the closing company to get this information. If there is any amounts owed, they also will be paid off at closing.

Possible Mortgage Prepayment Penalty: You should check on your Mortgage and Note to see if the lender will impose a pre-payment penalty if the loan is paid off early.

Other fees may also be incurred if the property being sold is a condo or located inside a gated community. The condo and HOA fees are usually prorated at close by the Title Company.

Homestead and Other Exemption Information

Homestead

The Florida Homestead Exemption is a constitutional benefit of up to a $50,000 exemption removed from the assessed value of your owner occupied property. It is granted to those applicants who possess title to real property and are bona fide Florida residents living in the dwelling and making it their permanent home on January 1. Documentation that proves you were a resident at the homestead property is required. You may not rent your home and qualify for the exemption. There are other exemptions for seniors, widow/widower’s, disabled persons and veterans.

Homestead Resources

Charlotte County Homestead And Other Exemption Information
Collier County Homestead And Other Exemption Information
Lee County Homestead And Other Exemption Information
Sarasota County Homestead And Other Exemption Information

How Do You Avoid Paying Capital Gains Tax on the Sale of your Home?

Tax Exchange

An important exception to the capital gains tax can be had when you are selling your home. You can exclude $250,000 of your profit from the sale of your home if you are single and $500,000 of the profit if you’re filing taxes jointly as a married couple. However, you do have to meet specific requirements to claim this exclusion:

The home must be your primary residence.
You must have owned the home for at least two years.
You must have lived in the home for at least two of the past five years.

Check out this link for the full information.

Topic 701 – Sale of Your Home

* Please be sure to check the appropriate professionals for tax advice

Lee County Resources

Foreign Buyer Information

CONSUMER REPORT: Federal Pacific Electric Panel Boxes Can Be Fire Hazards

FPE Panel Image FPE Panel Image 2

The Federal Pacific Electric Company (FPE) was one of the most common manufacturers of circuit breaker
panels boxes in North America from the 1950’s to the 1980’s. Millions of their panels were installed in homes across the country. Over time, electricians and home inspectors found Federal Pacific Electric panels sometimes failed to provide proper protection to homeowners. Experts say that certain panels could appear to work fine for years, but after one overcurrent or short circuit, they could overheat and become fire hazards.

Resources

FPE Consumer Alert Brochure
2007 Report FPE Circuit Breaker Hazards
2011 Report FPE Circuit Breaker Hazards.pdf
FPE Panel Video 1
FPE Panel Video 2
FPE Panel Video 3
FPE Panel Video 4
FPE Panel Video 5
FPE Panel Video 6

What is the History of the Florida Building Codes (FBC)?

Florida Building Codes

The law creating the Florida Building Code was enacted by the Florida Legislature in 1998 and became effective on March 1, 2002. Here is a brief history of why the Florida Building Commission was created and explains why the motivations for the first state-wide building code. Hurricane Andrew, that devastated South Florida on August 24, 1992 caused extensive damage and tore apart homes of all ages in South Florida including newly constructed homes, This hurricane exposed more than the interiors of thousands of homes and businesses, the storm revealed a serious statewide problem in how homes were being constructed. Florida had an antiquated system of locally-administered building codes, building code compliance and enforcement of these codes. Thousands of the homes hit by the hurricane and other structures simply did not stand up to the storm as well as they should have, and the effects quickly rippled out from South Florida to the rest of the state. Hurricane Andrew broke all records at that time for insurance losses, and was the direct cause of Florida’s worst insurance crisis in history. Insurance companies quickly realized that all of their worst-case predictions were grossly understated; Florida was seriously under insured and over exposed to these major catastrophic storms. In the storms aftermath, many insurance companies simply pulled out of Florida and those that stayed felt it necessary to raise premiums to high levels in order to avoid the very real threat of bankruptcy following another hurricane. This affected home owners in all of Florida as they saw their insurance rates rise drastically and found a lack of available new insurance threatening to pull the plug on development in every part of the state. This program made creating building codes and their administration and enforcement a statewide issue. The FBC have been amended over the years. The effective dates of later versions of the code are shown in the graphic above, and the latest version is the 2014 Florida Building Code (5th Edition), which went into effect on June 15, 2015; except that implementation of a few sections of the new code was delayed by the Legislature until June 15, 2016.

What are Flood Maps?

Flood Zone Map

Flood maps, known officially as Flood Insurance Rate Maps (FIRMs), show areas of high and moderate to low flood risk. Communities use the maps to set minimum building requirements for coastal areas and floodplains, lenders use them to determine flood insurance requirements, and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) uses them to help determine what you should pay for flood insurance.

Flood maps show areas of high, moderate, and low flood risk as a series of zones. High-risk zones, also known as Special Flood Hazard Areas (SFHAs), begin with the letters “A” or “V.” Moderate- to low-risk zones, known as Non-Special Flood Hazard Areas (NSFHAs), begin with the letters “X”, “B” or “C.” There are also areas where the flood hazard is undetermined, labeled as Zone D.

View your map now at FEMA’s Flood Map Service Center, or learn more about FEMA flood insurance rates.

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