Protecting Your Investment

Step 7: Settle In

 
Check the Temperature on the Water Heater & Change the Filters.
 
Especially in new developments, developers sometimes turn the water heater to “vacation” mode which saves them money on utility bills but makes the water cold throughout the home. If you control your own hot water, check the water heater during your first day in the house and turn the temperature dial to the “best setting” which should be indicated on the dial. If necessary, make sure to also change the air filter in the heating and air conditioning unit and the vent filter above the stove.
 
Change the Locks.
 
During the buying process, the keys to your home probably passed through a lot of hands and someone besides you could still have copies of the old keys. Just to be safe, change your locks the first day you move in.
 
Meet the Neighbors.
 
Your new neighbors are part of your community. Especially if you have kids, you’ll want to know what type of people live near you and who may be out and about in the area when you aren’t home. Aside from that, neighbors can look out for each other and let you in on the happenings in the neighborhood so don’t be shy. You never know when the stranger next door might become a trusted family friend.
Make Copies of your Closing Documents.
 
Plan on keeping these documents forever, or until at least a few years after you eventually sell your home. If you ever need to reference the information or file a claim, having access to these documents can save you time and money.

Step 8: File for Homestead

 
Homestead exemption can reduce your taxable value on your home as much as $50,000, saving you approximately $750 annually. In addition, your assessed value, which is used to calculate your property taxes, can not increase more than 3% annually after you are granted the exemption. In order to receive this benefit, you must...
  • Have legal or beneficial title to the property, recorded in the Official Records of your county
  • Reside on the property
  • Be a permanent resident of the State of Florida
  • Be a United States citizen or possess a Permanent Residence Card (green card), and
  • Apply before March 1.
As long as title does not change on the property and your residency status remains the same, your exemptions may be automatically renewed each year, in January. However, Florida Law requires filing a new application when any title change or change in the recorded deed is made. If you had Homestead exemption in your previous residence, you must file again because you can not take your Homestead with you.
For information on how to file and where, you can contact your county tax collector's office.

Step 9: Maintain Your Home to Prevent Damage and Protect Value

 
It’s a no brainer that after one of the biggest purchases of your lifetime, you’ll want to know how you can keep up your home and protect your investment. It would be a shame to spend so much money just to lose it later on if you ever have to sell.
 
Home maintenance and upkeep doesn’t have to be a daily chore. It can be done by making simple decisions here and there that can prevent damage and save money in the long run.

Thanks for the info but I'm no where near the closing table. How do I start the home-buying process?

This section includes information on getting pre-approved, hiring an agent and searching for homes.

I haven't even negotiated a price yet. Now that I've found the home I want, how do I close?

This section provides information on filing for homestead, settling into your new neighborhood, and keeping up the value of your home.