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Old 03-11-2013, 04:19 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,994 times
Reputation: 15

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My GF and I are looking to move to Florida like 99% of the other threads here so sorry for that in advance. We are both in our 30's and recently found out we have twins on the way! I have done a good amount of research the last couple months and I'm looking for some advice to see if I'm on the right track.

About Us

As I mentioned we are both in our 30's and will be first time parents. Along with that I'm a first time home buyer but my GF does own the house we currently live in (MD). I have been busting my butt the last 5 years and have managed to get my business off the ground so I work from home - we can live anywhere. Florida tops my list because of taxes and we both like warmer weather.

What We're Looking For

- We would like to be with in 15 minutes of a nice beach and downtown area. I'm not against being closer than that but I want to avoid flood zones.

- Would like to be max 15 minutes to grocery stores, gym, mall/shopping area as well.

- As with most people we want a good safe area with good schools.

- We are active and would like a nice neighborhood with sidewalks and a good community feel. If we can't find this it's not a deal breaker.

- I don't want to buy in an area that has a high concentration of snowbirds or weekly renters. I don't want to have new neighbors every week/month.

- I would like to avoid HOA's and CDD. I'm willing to spend up to $1500 year on HOA's if it's an area we really like so I don't want to completely rule that out.

- Seems like concrete and stucco are the way to go in Florida for insurance and safety. I would prefer a home that is 2002 or newer and meets the wind mitigation standards for best insurance rates. Not sure if there is a specific area/neighborhood with newer homes. I guess I wouldn't be opposed to an older home that has been brought up to code.

Plan

I know every person here will say rent for a year then find what works for you but renting doesn't fit into my plan. I would rather buy a home and if we don't like it I will rent it out.

Due to the GF being pregnant we have to work with in some constraints. We plan on renting a vacation home for 3-4 weeks around the middle of April, next month. I'm looking at either Bradenton or Sarasota because both of those seem to be what we are looking for even though we have never been to either one. From what it looks like they are only about 20 min apart, right?

Our budget is 250k to $400k.

What I Need From You

- In your opinion am I looking in the right area Bradenton and Sarasota? If so are there any specific neighborhoods you can suggest?

- A Realtor that excels in finding great deals and is very knowledgeable. I'm open to short sales or foreclosures but I don't want to buy in an area that is full of them.

- A real estate attorney that can make sure everything looks OK once we settle on a property.

- Any other things I should lookout for when looking at homes that I may have over looked? Seems like concrete construction and 2002 or newer should be good for insurance/safety.

Sorry for the long post and thanks in advance for your help.
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Old 03-12-2013, 10:34 AM
 
Location: Parrish, FL
14 posts, read 29,854 times
Reputation: 14
I can't answer all of you questions but can tell you want I've learned so far. (I am buying a house in Parrish at the end of the month and moving from PA).
New homes are going to be your best bet. Builders will make deals with you if you buy a house that is already built. In my case, they are paying all the closing costs, dropping the house price a few thousand and installing blinds and fans throughout the home.
Look for little things that will help you with homeowners insurance. Examples: gated community, security guard, HIP roof, spanish tiled roof, etc.
Builders: We looked at a lot of homes while in the Tampa/Sarasota area. I really liked M/I homes but ended up buying one from D.R. Horton. M/I seemed to have better craftsmanship but D.R. was very good too.
Schools: Florida lets you pick the school of your choice. If your kids are assigned to a school that isn't highly rated, you can apply to have them go to a better school. We are doing this for our kids.
Sorry I couldn't answer more of your questions.
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Old 03-12-2013, 04:59 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,994 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks for the feedback Soccerdad32. I didn't consider building a home and that is something I will look into. If you don't mind what location/neighborhood did you purchase in?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soccerdad32 View Post
I can't answer all of you questions but can tell you want I've learned so far. (I am buying a house in Parrish at the end of the month and moving from PA).
New homes are going to be your best bet. Builders will make deals with you if you buy a house that is already built. In my case, they are paying all the closing costs, dropping the house price a few thousand and installing blinds and fans throughout the home.
Look for little things that will help you with homeowners insurance. Examples: gated community, security guard, HIP roof, spanish tiled roof, etc.
Builders: We looked at a lot of homes while in the Tampa/Sarasota area. I really liked M/I homes but ended up buying one from D.R. Horton. M/I seemed to have better craftsmanship but D.R. was very good too.
Schools: Florida lets you pick the school of your choice. If your kids are assigned to a school that isn't highly rated, you can apply to have them go to a better school. We are doing this for our kids.
Sorry I couldn't answer more of your questions.
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Old 03-12-2013, 08:39 PM
 
Location: Sarasota/ Bradenton - University Pkwy area
3,224 posts, read 4,593,024 times
Reputation: 2789
To answer some of your questions,

It is not easy to find new or newer construction near the beaches. There is a brand new construction community off of Clark Road near Stickney Point, it's called Esplanade by Siesta Key. While I like the builder (Taylor Morrison), I am not impressed by the general location for this subdivision as it is surrounded by much older, smaller homes. Divosta has new construction in Palmer Ranch, in The Isles.

Taylor Morrison is getting ready to start construction on a new community within Palmer Ranch, to be called Arbor Lakes on Palmer Ranch. They have not yet sent out pricing or model information. It is supposed to be 217 acres and gated.

You might like Three Oaks, off of Proctor Road, near Palmer Ranch. It has reasonable HOA fees and lots it's popular with families.

Most of the newer construction is going to be found further east or northeast, away from the beaches.

A lot of the new or newer construction can be found in south Manatee county/ Lakewood Ranch area. Within 5 miles of my home alone there are 6 new construction subdivision: Riva Trace (Medallion Homes), Woodbrook (Neal Communities), Fairfield villas (Neal Communities), Arbor Reserve (Taylor Morrison & Ryland Homes joint venture), Ashton Woods Homes of Atlanta is building in the Rosedale Golf & Country Club community and waterfront (Braden River) homes in Marshall's Landing (joint venture by Vision Homes & Arthur Rutenberg Homes). Some cater more to baby boomers, others more so to families.

There are a lot of other neighborhoods with "gently used" homes built within the past 10 years in that same general area. All would be close to most of the things on your wish list, including the new mall which will be completed in 2014, located at University Park and I75. Mote Ranch is a popular area, with several neighborhoods with newer construction homes. Mandalay is just up the road from Mote Ranch, at the corner of Honore and Lockwood Ridge. River Sound, off of SR70 near Tara Golf & Country Club is another option. The downside is that you would be about 20 - 25 minutes to Lido Key beach, add another 15 minutes or more to Siesta Key beach.

In general, all newer construction neighborhoods in our area will have deed restrictions and HOAs. Before buying, please take the time to get a copy of the restrictions and read them as sometimes sellers and agents will gloss over them without getting into specifics that may impact your family's lifestyle if you buy in that community. A big issue in some communities is fencing - is it allowed, what type, can corner lots fence their yards (often not), etc.

Lakewood Ranch will have CDD fees, as will Greyhawk Landings, Heritage Harbour, University Place, to name some of the more popular CDD communities.


In general, insurance rates will be less expensive for homes built after the cutoff in 2002. Hip roofs have better rates than gable roofs, block construction is better than frame, they also look at distance to nearest fire hydrant, the results of your wind mitigation inspection (most home inspectors will give a discount if you have the home inspection & wind mitigation inspection done at the same time). Credit scores also impact insurance rates.

Flood zones are something to pay attention to if you want to keep expenses down. Homes on lakes aren't always in flood zones, and sometimes here you'll find homes are in flood zones with no obvious signs of nearby water, creeks or drainage canals.

As someone already mentioned, there is school choice. However, the schools do have enrollment limits and therefore you are not guaranteed that you may send your child to the school of your choice if you buy a home in another school district.

Both Manatee and Sarasota county schools have information on school districts, school ratings and a wide variety of school information on their websites:

www.manatee.k12.fl.us/

Sarasota County Schools, Home



One other thing. Please don't feel the need to apologize for asking questions on this forum. You'll find a lot of nice people here that are willing to share their knowledge and experiences.
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Old 03-13-2013, 05:22 AM
 
547 posts, read 738,197 times
Reputation: 244
There is no substitute for personally taking a look. The length of time it will take to be determined by you and your wife.There are plenty of "older" established neighborhoods that are safe, have kids that actually still play outside, and are in good school districts.
You told us some things about you. Are you the type that mows the lawn, works in the yard, and works on their home? I prefer the City of Sarasota. City water and sewer, city Police dept., and close to the things you mentioned,Like the Y, beaches, downtown,shopping, and with few exceptions safe.What you won't find is post 2002 construction though, unless it was a teardown.

As for your needs: There are nice areas in both Sarasota and Bradenton, but I like Sarasota.Personally I would avoid the "Ranches". There are too many nice established neighborhoods.
Realtors: A few post here. It's up to you and your wife to find the right match.
Real Estate Attorney: The Realtor you choose should be able to handle that.
What to look for: Concrete is a good starting point. Have your realtor suggest a qualified home inspector. Check the availability of insurance. Hurricane insurance has gotten weird.

Have fun!
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Old 03-13-2013, 04:53 PM
 
9 posts, read 14,994 times
Reputation: 15
Thanks for the replies you two - it sounds like I may need to lift the 2002 build date.

Another member here informed me about "west of the trail" and that may be what we are looking for. Are there any specific neighborhoods west of the trail that are family friendly? I'm assuming living west of the trail will be more busy/traffic because it's closer to everything? I understand that homes in this area will be older.

Palmer Ranch looks nice but how far is it from downtown and the beaches?

I know we need to check this all out ourselves and I plan to very soon. I'm looking for a 2-3 week rental west of the trail that allows pets right now. If anyone has a home for rent around April 9th please drop me a line.

Thanks again
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Old 03-14-2013, 11:30 AM
 
Location: Sarasota/ Bradenton - University Pkwy area
3,224 posts, read 4,593,024 times
Reputation: 2789
There are definitely a number of great neighborhoods west of US41 aka "west of Trail." The area near Sarasota Memorial Hospital is especially popular, and prices reflect that. For anyone looking at neighborhoods on the western side of US41, you should ask about wind storm zones as much of that area falls into wind zones and will definitely add to your insurance bill. For many, it's a small price to pay for a great location.
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Old 03-14-2013, 12:48 PM
 
547 posts, read 738,197 times
Reputation: 244
There can be hidden gems just east of the trail too. Southside is a good school, although it will be a few years before you need it.
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