In Florida, real estate contracts are generally prepared by real estate brokers since they have the first contact with purchasers and they negotiate the terms of the agreement. If a broker is not involved or if requested by either party, an attorney will prepare and/or review the contract prior to it being signed. Generally, a ten (10%) earnest money deposit is required, although this provision, as all provisions of a real estate contract, is subject to negotiation.

In the event of a dispute, the terms of the contract control, so it is important to read and understand the terms contained in the contract presented to you for your signature. The law that pertains to real estate transactions changes on a regular basis and the "Standard Form" contracts that are used will also change to provide for the ever changing legal rights of the parties. An attorney can explain the meaning of the provisions contained in the contract and advise whether the "Standard Form" contract is the most recent form containing the provisions relating to the new laws.

A Florida attorney can provide title insurance to the purchaser of real estate, providing a guarantee by way of insurance policy that you will obtain title to the correct property, free and clear of mortgages, judgments, liens, taxes and other unknown encumbrances. Mr. Perlman is an authorized agent of the Attorney's Title Insurance Fund, the most widely recognized and accepted title insurance company in Florida.

In connection with the title examination, you will be advised whether your property is subject to deed restrictions such as homeowner's associations, planned urban development restrictions, declarations of condominium, restrictions, limitations, easements, recreation leases and the like. Sometimes homeowners are surprised to learn after the closing that they are subject to rules and regulations, or must pay a monthly, quarterly or annual assessment.

In Florida, the transfer of title takes place at the Closing. The Closing Statement will reflect your closing costs, set forth the prorations of taxes and other items and constitute your final agreement on the purchase of the property.

A condominium is a special form of ownership in which you receive title to the apartment and the condominium association owns and operates the common areas such as the hallways, elevators, swimming pool and recreation areas.

Since condominium living is restrictive, Florida Law gives the purchaser of a condominium unit the right to cancel the purchase agreement and obtain a full refund of any deposits within fifteen (15) days of receipt of the condominium documents from the seller. This legal right permits the purchaser to read all of the rules and regulations pertaining to the particular condominium and then cancel the transaction if the rules and regulations are unacceptable for any reason.

In addition to the requirements for the purchase of real property generally, the purchase of a condominium also requires a certificate of approval from the condominium association. This generally involves filling out an application for consent to transfer and appearing before the Board of Directors for a personal interview. The Board of Directors will then issue a Certificate of Approval which must be recorded in the public records along with the Deed in order for the purchaser of a condominium to obtain title to the condominium unit.

A cooperative is a special form of ownership in which the apartment owner does not obtain title to the apartment. Rather, the owner becomes a Shareholder in the cooperative association and obtains a 99 year lease to the apartment in question.

For additional information regarding Florida Law on specific real estate matters, you should contact an experienced Florida attorney.

© 1997 Mark Perlman