Question and Answers
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What are Ad Valorem Taxes?
There are two parts to your tax bill: ad valorem and non-ad valorem taxes. It is helpful to understand the difference.
Ad valorem taxes are based on the value of a property or asset. These taxes are generally levied by local governments and are calculated as a percentage of the assessed value of the property or asset. The term “ad valorem” is derived from Latin and means “according to value.”
Non-ad valorem taxes, on the other hand, are taxes that are not based on the value of a property or asset. These taxes are typically flat fees or charges that are levied on all properties or businesses within a defined area or jurisdiction. Examples of non-ad valorem taxes include special assessments, which are levied to fund specific projects or services, and impact fees, which are charged to developers to help offset the costs of public infrastructure and services.
Contact your local tax collector if you have questions.
What is a 4-Point Inspection?
A 4-point inspection is a type of home inspection that focuses specifically on four key areas of a home: the roof, and three key systems: HVAC (heating, ventilation, and air conditioning), electrical, and plumbing. This type of inspection is typically required by insurance companies before they will provide coverage for an older home or one that has not been recently inspected. The purpose of the inspection is to assess the condition of these four systems and identify any potential hazards or defects that could lead to damage or safety concerns. The inspector will typically provide a detailed report outlining any issues found during the inspection, along with recommendations for repairs or upgrades that may be necessary to ensure the home is safe and up to code. Note that a 4-point inspection is NOT a comprehensive home inspection and should not be relied upon as the sole means of assessing a home’s overall condition.
Can I skip the termite inspection?
Subterranean termites live in underground colonies and feed on wood and other cellulose materials. These termites build mud tubes to protect themselves as they move between their underground colony and the source of food, which can include structural wood in buildings. Subterranean termites are the most common type of termite in the United States and can be found in every state except Alaska. They are considered a serious pest due to their ability to cause significant damage to homes and other structures if left untreated. Always have an inspection to learn if your home has termites. It is important to deal with termite infestations promptly to minimize damage and prevent future problems. A professional pest control company can help homeowners identify and treat subterranean termite infestations effectively.
Are thermal windows the same as hurricane windows?
No, thermal windows and hurricane windows are not the same. While both types of windows offer improved energy efficiency and protection against the elements, they are designed for different purposes.
Thermal windows, also known as insulated windows or double-pane windows, are designed to reduce heat transfer from the interior to the exterior of a building. They typically consist of two layers of glass separated by a gas-filled gap, which helps to reduce heat gain during the summer.
Hurricane windows are designed to provide protection against high winds, rain and flying debris associated with severe weather events. They are typically made with impact-resistant glass and reinforced frames.
While some hurricane windows may also offer improved energy efficiency, they are primarily intended to provide added safety and protection. If you are considering installing new windows in your home, talk to a qualified contractor or window specialist regarding your best options based on factors such as location, budget, and performance requirements.
I’m looking at resale homes. Should I be concerned about wood frame vs. block?
Block homes, also known as concrete or masonry homes, are popular in Florida due to their durability and ability to withstand hurricane-force winds. One of the main advantages of block homes is their resistance to damage from severe storms. They also offer excellent insulation, which can keep your home cool in the hot Florida summers and warm during occasional cooler temperatures.
However, there are some disadvantages to block homes in Florida that you should be aware of. First, they can be more expensive to build compared to traditional wood-framed homes. Additionally, block homes can be more difficult to modify or renovate compared to wood-framed homes, making it less flexible for future design changes. They also require skilled labor to construct, and finding qualified contractors can sometimes be a challenge.
Another important factor to consider is the humidity levels in Florida. Block homes may require additional ventilation and air circulation systems compared to wood frame homes.
Overall, while block homes offer many advantages in Florida, it’s essential to weigh the pros and cons carefully before deciding. Talk to your builder or your home inspector for more information.
I keep hearing about the Florida lifestyle. What does that mean?
The Florida lifestyle can be described as relaxed, sunny, and full of outdoor activities. With its warm weather and abundance of beaches, Florida is the perfect place to enjoy water sports like surfing, boating, fishing, and swimming. Many residents also participate in outdoor activities like hiking, biking, and golfing. Additionally, besides some of the best beaches in the state, southwest Florida is known for its many music and street festivals, art galleries, and theaters.. The food scene includes fresh seafood, light bites, and international cuisine available in many restaurants. The easy-going lifestyle in Florida also means that residents tend to take things at a slower pace, making the most of their time in the sun. Overall, the Florida lifestyle is one that prioritizes relaxation, fun, and enjoyment of some 360 days of sunshine each year, and the natural beauty that the state has to offer.
Is it worth living at the beach?
Yes, you will pay more per square foot of living space near the beach than further inland, but there are several reasons you may want to do so. There are many popular recreational activities near the beach that can make living there a worthwhile investment. Some of the most popular include swimming, surfing, paddleboarding, fishing, boating, kayaking, and beach volleyball. Additionally, many beach communities offer opportunities for hiking, biking, and walking along scenic trails or boardwalks. For those who enjoy nightlife, there are bars, restaurants, and entertainment venues located within walking distance of the beach. There also is a more lucrative short-term rental potential for properties near a beach. Finally, living near the beach can provide access to stunning views, beautiful sunsets, and a general sense of relaxation and tranquility that can be hard to find in other locations. All these factors can contribute to the overall value of living near the beach, even if it comes with a higher price tag. Discuss with your financial advisor before making your decision.
Is there a real benefit to home ownership?
Home ownership has long been viewed as a cornerstone of the American Dream, and for good reason. There are many advantages to owning your own home that go beyond simply having a place of your own. One major benefit of home ownership building equity over time. As you make mortgage payments and your home increases in value, you’ll be building wealth that can be used to fund future additional purchases or investments.
Another advantage of owning a home is the sense of stability and belonging it can provide. When you own your own home, you have the freedom to customize and decorate it to your liking, which can make it feel more like “yours” than a rented apartment or house. Additionally, owning a home can provide a sense of community and belonging, as you become part of a neighborhood and can form relationships with your neighbors. Additionally, owning a home can provide tax benefits such as mortgage interest deductions, which can help offset some of the costs of home ownership.
What features add value to a home?
There are many features and amenities that can increase the value of a home, depending on the location and the preferences of potential buyers. Some popular options include:
- Upgraded kitchens and bathrooms: These are often seen as high-value areas of a home, and renovations that modernize and upgrade these spaces can be attractive to buyers.
- Energy-efficient upgrades: As more and more people become concerned with sustainability and energy efficiency, features like solar panels, high-efficiency windows and doors, and smart thermostats can make a home more appealing and valuable.
- Safety features: innovations like Ring™ doorbells and household security cameras will make you feel safer both when inside the home, and when you are away.
- Outdoor living spaces: Having an outdoor space for entertaining or relaxing is highly desirable – especially with 360 days of sunshine every year. Features like covered, screened patios (called lanai in Florida), fire pits, and outdoor kitchens can all add value to a home.
- Additional living space: Adding a guest bedroom with en-suite bath, or a bonus room can increase the functional square footage of a home, making it more attractive to buyers.
- High-end finishes and materials: Using luxury materials like marble, quartz, or hardwood floors can add a touch of elegance and sophistication to a home. There are excellent choices in wood-look flooring, and larger moldings that increase a home’s perceived value.
Of course, the specific features that will add value to a home will depend on the local market and the preferences of potential buyers. It’s always a good idea to consult with a real estate agent or home improvement expert to get a better sense of what will work best in your area.
Tell me something about sea turtles!
Sea turtles are fascinating and highly migratory animals that have captured the attention of people around the world. These creatures are distributed across all the world’s oceans, and they play important roles in marine ecosystems as both predators and prey.
There are seven species of sea turtles, each with its own unique characteristics and behaviors. Green, loggerhead, hawksbill, and Kemp’s Ridley turtles are found in waters around southwest Florida. The loggerhead is the most common sea turtle in this area, often nesting on beaches from May to August. Green sea turtles also nest in the area from June to September.
Sea turtles exhibit a range of interesting behaviors and adaptations that help them to survive in their ocean habitats. For example, they can hold their breath for extended periods of time while diving, which helps them to find food and avoid predators. They also have specialized limbs and shells that allow them to swim quickly and navigate the complex currents of the open ocean. Unfortunately, many sea turtle populations are under threat from pollution, climate change, and other human activities, making conservation efforts critical for their survival. The MOTE Marine Laboratory in Sarasota is a great place to learn about sea animals. You could even join their annual Run for the Turtles!
What is the big deal about the gopher tortoise?
The gopher tortoise is a species of tortoise that is native to the area. They are known for their unique burrowing behavior: tortoises dig complex burrows that can extend up to 40 feet in length and up to 10 feet in depth.
Gopher tortoises exhibit several unique behaviors that have fascinated scientists and nature enthusiasts alike. They are important to the ecosystem because they are herbivores and feed on a variety of plants, including grasses, fruits, and flowers preventing overgrowth that could impact other species in the ecosystem. They also are communal animals and create important habitats for animals that use their burrows, such as snakes, rabbits, and insects.
Sadly, gopher tortoises have seen a decline in their population over the years due to habitat loss and fragmentation caused by human development. As a result, they are considered a threatened species in many areas and are protected by law. Efforts are underway to conserve and protect these amazing creatures so that they may continue to play an important role in the ecosystem. Conservation efforts play a crucial role in protecting these amazing creatures and preserving their distinctive behaviors for future generations to learn from and appreciate. If you are building on vacant land, ask your real estate agent or the municipality about the presence of tortoises, and what remediation may be required if they are present.
What is a box turtle?
Box turtles are a type of terrestrial turtle found throughout the United States and parts of Mexico. They get their name from their hinged shell, which allows them to close their body tightly inside for protection against predators. Box turtles are typically small to medium-sized, with a length of around 4-8 inches (10-20 cm) and a weight of 1-2 pounds (0.5-1 kg).
These turtles are known for their colorful shells, which can range from shades of brown and green to orange and yellow. They are also omnivores, feeding on a variety of foods such as insects, fruits, and small animals. Box turtles are known for their longevity, with many individuals living to be over 50 years old in captivity.
Box turtles are known for their amazing ability to blend in with their surroundings and avoid predators. They can tuck their limbs and head into their shell and remain motionless for hours, resembling a rock or piece of wood on the ground. This helps them avoid detection and increases their chances of survival in the wild.
Unfortunately, due to habitat loss and collection for the pet trade, many box turtle populations are declining. It’s important to appreciate these fascinating creatures from a distance and avoid keeping them as pets unless you have extensive knowledge and resources to provide proper care.