The Pros and Cons of Property Types, so that You Don’t Make the Wrong Choice!
The type of property you choose as your future Florida home will be decided by several factors including whether it’s intended for a financial return or holiday home, your budget, and your personal wants/needs. As the types of property available have different pros and cons, it’s useful to outline the most commonly found property types.
Types of Florida Property Defined Like Never Before
Oceanfront, Gulf Front and Waterfront Property
If you are in the position to pay the premiums demanded for Oceanfront (Atlantic Ocean side of Florida), Gulf Front (Gulf of Mexico side), beachfront, or waterfront property then do it!
Getting more house for your money off the water may be tempting, but being on the water is the surest way to guarantee you get the most amount of return for your money when re-selling. If your aim is to rent, waterfront also commands the highest rental returns.
A beachfront property will always be in demand as the sun-seekers, holiday-makers, and property buyers flock to beachfront locations to purchase a bit of the Florida good life.
However, waterfront living doesn’t begin and end with the beach—much Floridian property is located on canals, rivers, and bays, which offer specific and desirable niche markets for people searching for particular lifestyles: be that fishing, birding, boating, kayaking, or simply being close to the calming properties of the water.
These properties each offer different lifestyles for buyers and holidaymakers and present different niche markets for rental income.
Considerations to remember about waterfront property include that upkeep is significant and a cost to be factored in over and above what it regularly costs to maintain a home. Insurance can also be much higher for properties on the coast.
- WATER!! WATER!!! WATER!!
- Commands highest prices both for rental and resale
- Most desirable properties in the market generally
- More in demand
- Much more exterior maintenance and costs
- Higher insurance
- Can be nerve-wracking in storm/flood situations
- Maybe safety issues for children
Single Family Homes
If you can afford to choose a single family home for your property investment or holiday home, you are making a wise use of your money as these homes tend to produce the highest appreciation over time and also the highest rental incomes.
The downsides with single-family homes include higher cost, higher upkeep costs, and more labor-intensive maintenance, especially pool homes. But the rewards are well worth it, especially if you intend to use the home with your family.
Note: even if your single family home is not within a Homeowners’ Association, there are still likely to be restrictions and rules in place concerning different issues which are often written into the deeds for the home. Your attorney or Realtor should look into these in detail as part of their due diligence on the property on your behalf.
- Usually good outdoor space
- Feeling of own home
- Usually more say over the appearance of the property
- Higher desirability for renting
- More maintenance than townhouses and condos
- Higher price than townhouses and condos
- Higher insurance
The bread and butter of the Florida property market, condos are a great choice for investors. Not only are they somewhat plentifully available in most of the major areas, they tend to be more affordable, and much easier in terms of upkeep. This is beneficial for international buyers who will only be using the property themselves for part of the year, or not at all.
In addition to the perceived ease of ownership, condo living typically affords lower budget accessibility to areas such as beachfront and downtown locations, than the buyer would be able to afford in a single-family home. Since condos in the most desirable locations are vertical, the buyer is only paying a fraction of the actual land cost.
Condominiums are usually set up so that each owner owns his or her unit individually, and all the owners in the building have a share of ownership of the common spaces. A board of directors manages the Condominium Association, and this is responsible for the maintenance, upkeep, and repair of common areas such as entrances, hallways, stairs, and roof.
Condominium associations have very specific rules which govern living in the building. The rules and conditions for owners vary hugely between different Condo Associations. These may include restrictions on pets, or limitations on the size of pets, as well as restrictions on renting out the property.
Most condos also have fees that are paid annually for the upkeep of the building and exterior areas, so it’s important to factor those into your cost of ownership calculations. It’s also important to know all of these things up front in order to decide if the building you choose is suitable for your lifestyle.
Condo Associations have a responsibility to disclose these rules and make the paperwork available to you.
Condos are a great choice to achieve value in the Florida property market also, as return to investment ratio tends to be quite good when renting, and condos are appreciating. The actual amount varies area to area.
- Generally very secure
- Very minimal maintenance – only the interior
- More affordable than townhouses or single family homes
- Return rates may still be good despite lower cost
- Condo Association handles all maintenance
- Unusual to have outdoor space
- Neighbor Noise
- Little Privacy
- Condo Association fees
Townhouses are properties that tend to be arranged over two or more floors, in areas where the ground footprint is at a higher premium. These tend to be good value, as the land value is generally lower than on a similar single-family home which is more spread out.
Townhouses are hot investments because, although the price is about the same as that of a condo, they tend to have lower monthly fees. These properties also tend draw slightly higher rents and generally attract more family-oriented clients. Townhouses are also a great option for vacation and seasonal rentals.
- Slightly lower heating/cooling bills due to houses on either side.
- Less exterior maintenance than single family homes
- Usually exterior upkeep managed by HOA
- “House” living experience, but usually more affordable than a single family home
- Ease of living in a close community – safety and security
- You own the land the home sits on as well as the interior and exterior of the home
Often have security
- “House” experience but less garden to look after
- Possible neighbor noise
- Small gardens or outdoor space
- Little say in the exterior look of the property HOA fees
- Sometimes less light than stand alone homes Less privacy than stand alone homes
Retirement Homes / Villages
Retirement homes and villages are becoming more and more popular as the population ages and more and more baby boomers enter retirement with disposable income and a desire to enjoy their golden years. Retirement villages tend to offer good security, facilities on hand which appeal to seniors, often organized group activities, and social common spaces or entertainment venues.
Retirement communities very often have staff on hand, and it may be possible to buy a long-term lease rather than ownership of the entire property, thereby saving you capital but giving you a home of your ‘own’ for a long time. This may be a simple way of avoiding some of the complications of homeownership.
- Safety and security
- Help on hand should you need it
- Little or no maintenance
- Properties set up for older people
- Activities and facilities on site
Other Community Factors to Consider
It’s pertinent to note here that most homes, particularly in upper scale neighborhoods in Florida, are managed by Homeowners’ Associations or HOAs. These differ slightly from the concept of Condominium Associations because the owners of the individual lots do not share ownership of the common areas.
These common areas are owned by the HOA itself. Usually, they own the title deed, but similar to a Condominium Association, the HOA is responsible for the maintenance and upkeep of the common areas.
Homeowners’ Associations are generally responsible for everything that affects the community as a whole, most specifically the exterior appearance of the community.
Regulations can manage everything from open house signs, exterior property maintenance, colors you may paint your property, and plants you may use in your garden to what your mailbox looks like, your fencing, and even curtains.
While to many international buyers these restrictions may seem incredibly over-bearing, their purpose is to ensure that the look and feel of the community are maintained and there are myriad benefits to having an HOA manage your community. Specifically, they ensure that property prices are maintained, and no property can be ‘letting down the neighborhood’.
Gated communities are a particularly American phenomenon. They are enclaves of homes—often developed all at the same time with an identical or very similar feel—which has some kind of security or entrance that separates them from the wider community.
Gated communities are prized for the security they offer residents, as well as their feeling of community. Often these communities are created around golf courses, so a shared interest brings residents together with other like-minded individuals. They are almost always managed by an HOA.