ANGEL CUTSHALL | Jacksonville Real Estate, Mandarin Real Estate, Ponte Vedra Beach Real Estate

Here is your Rosetta Stone guide when buying or selling in the Sunshine State:

Agency/type of representation: Florida has various forms of real estate representation as defined below and explained on state disclosures. In the state of Florida, representation is deemed to be transaction brokerage unless otherwise disclosed.

Binder deposit or escrow money: The earnest money that buyers put down with an offer as a sign of their commitment and seriousness in the transaction. The binder deposit, as it is commonly referred to, is typically placed at either a real estate company that has an escrow account or with an attorney’s office or title company handling the closing.

Broker: This refers to a licensee who holds a broker’s license and is functioning as a broker of record or possibly as a manager for a real estate company. Not all of those in a management capacity in a real estate firm hold a broker’s license in Florida.

Broker associate: This refers to an agent who has obtained his or her Florida broker’s license but functions in the role of a sales associate and not in a management capacity. The license number starts with the letters “BK” before proceeding with several numbers.

CDOM: Continuous days on market refers to the total time a property has been on the market, including prior listings.

Chapter 475: This is the Florida state statute that pertains to real estate license law.

Closing costs: These are fees associated with closing on a real estate transaction. A buyer and seller both have fees that they are responsible for paying. What a buyer and seller pays in Florida depends on which part of the state the property and/or the locality where the closing takes place as well as if a buyer has a mortgage loan or is paying cash. Florida does not have any state income tax, but it certainly makes up for it with three different state-specific closing costs that you will have to deal with when transacting real estate as outlined below:

  •  Deed stamps: This is a Florida state tax on the sales price of the property. It is 70 cents per $1,000 of the purchase price. Who pays this fee depends on what part of Florida you are located in. On new construction, the buyer usually pays, but on a resale, the local custom of the area will dictate this, however, all closing costs as far as what party pays what can be negotiated.
  • Intangible tax: Because mortgages are considered personal property in Florida, the state imposes a tax on this as well. It is assessed at 0.002 times the loan amount. So, if you are a buyer obtaining a mortgage loan, you will need to pay this. The one exception is if you are obtaining a loan through a credit union as those are exempt from intangible tax because they are considered a nonprofit organization.
  • Note stamps: This is a Florida state tax on mortgages. If a buyer is obtaining a mortgage loan to purchase a property, this is a tax that the buyer will be paying at closing based on his or her loan amount. It is taxed at a rate of 35 cents per $1,000 of the mortgage loan.

Closing/closing date: In Florida, the term closing means the designated day and date that closing documents are signed by both the buyer and seller, the transaction funds and possession is provided to the buyer.

Coastal construction control line (CCCL): This refers to property that may be partially or totally seaward of this line, which is usually oceanfront. A disclosure is required to be made if a property is subject to these circumstances as the property may be prone to coastal erosion and federal, state or local regulations that govern coastal property. In other words, if you are considering property that is oceanfront, you need to be aware of where it is situated in reference to the CCCL.

Condominium governance form: This is a disclosure by the state of Florida, Department of Business and Professional Regulation that explains condominium governance to the consumer. It should be provided to a buyer before making an offer on a condominium property. Florida is famous for having a variety of master planned communities that are often mini resorts among themselves with an array of pools, parks and other recreational amenities. Common terms you will often see referenced with these communities are CDD, HOA and PUD.  Here’s what they mean:

  • Community district development (CDD): This is a local, special purpose governmental unit established pursuant to and regulated by Florida statue. A CDD generally finances, owns and manages infrastructure and amenities within the boundaries of the CDD. The CDD issues bonds, and the proceeds from these bonds are used to finance the development of infrastructure for that particular community. Examples of infrastructure funded by these bonds are road, water, storm water and sewer facilities. The funds are also used to develop recreational facilities such as tennis courts, fitness centers, pools, walking and running trails, etc. The residents of that  community then pay the debt on those bonds through their property taxes.  The repayment of the bond department is part of the CDD annual assessment on property taxes each year.
  • Homeowner’s association (HOA): A homeowner’s association enforces covenants and restrictions regarding the neighborhood as well as provides guidelines for architectural control and maintenance regarding common areas of the neighborhood such as the entrance, signage and parks or other amenities in the neighborhood. Not all neighborhoods have an HOA or a CDD fee, but typically if there are some sort of amenities, there is usually a homeowner’s association at a minimum. Membership in a homeowner’s association is usually mandatory, which means required fees. However, some homeowner’s associations are voluntary.
  • Planned unit development (PUD): A “PUD” is a common term used when talking about a master planned community that consists of varied land uses. It may not only be residential but also commercial properties such as a shopping center that may have a grocery store and other retail services located in close proximity for the convenience of residents as well as recreational or industrial structures.

Continued marketing addendum: This is an addendum that allows a seller to accept an offer from a buyer that has a contingency associated with it, such as the sale and/or closing of their home and continue to market their home for sale and entertain offers. Should the seller receive another offer, this form gives the buyer an agreed upon time period such as 24, 48 or 72 hours to lift the contingency or step aside so the seller can work with the other offer. This is sometimes referred to as a “right of first refusal” (ROFR).

DAC: This refers to days after closing, such as a seller turning over possession of the home to a buyer within so many days after closing instead of on the actual closing date.

DOM: This acronym refers to the days on market for a property that has been listed on the multiple listing service.

DBPR: The Department of Business and Professional Regulation oversees all professions that require licensure in the state of Florida including real estate agents, appraisers and home inspectors.

FAR: Florida Association of Realtors

FAR/BAR: Florida Association of Realtors/Florida Bar Association. Both FAR and “FAR/BAR” are often used to refer to the type of form sales agreement that may be used. There is a FAR contract as well as a FAR/BAR contract that has been approved for use by both the Florida Association of Realtors and the Florida Bar Association.

FAR BAR as-is: This is a statewide “as-is” contract. It is often used with foreclosure listings where inspections are permitted but no repairs will be made or anytime a seller wishes to sell without doing any repairs. It is important to note that just because Florida has statewide forms, it does not mean that every real estate board within the state is universally using the same forms. In Florida, it is quite common for each board of Realtors to have its own forms specific to its area that it uses to facilitate real estate transactions. Local custom often dictates how things are done with regard to what closing costs a buyer versus seller pays.

Flood insurance notice: This is a disclosure commonly given for buyers’ signatures when making an offer informing the buyers to be aware that their lender could require them to purchase flood insurance or that they may want to purchase it even if it is not required. It also advises the buyer to learn more about flood insurance, its availability and costs and provides relevant links to pertinent websites to learn more information.

FREC: The Florida Real Estate Commission oversees the regulation of real estate licensees in the state of Florida. The Commission consists of seven members appointed by the governor, subject to confirmation by the Senate. FREC is charged with hearing matters of concern over potential violations of real estate license law by Florida real estate licensees.

Hotel tax: With an abundance of property used for short-term rentals in Florida, homes and condominiums that are rentals for less then seven months are subject to a hotel tax per rental, which ranges generally speaking from 7 percent to 13 percent depending on which county the property is located in, and there could be some deviation from the stated rate for particular areas within the county.

Multiple listing service (MLS): Agents refer to the MLS or “multiple listing service” as the database where they can search for properties or input new listings.

MLS portal: Real estate agents can set a customer up with a portal on the multiple listing service that allows them to search and receive notification of new property listings as well as those that have had a price change, come back on market as well closed, been withdrawn or expired.

No brokerage relationship notice: A seller may be given this form when a real estate agent is representing a buyer who is making an offer on his or her home and the sellers are selling it on their own without representation. This advises the party with no representation that the licensee will deal honestly and fairly, account for all funds and disclose all known facts that will materially affect the value of the property that are not readily observable to the buyer.

Sales associate: This refers to an agent who has obtained a real estate salesperson’s license in the state of Florida. Each license number will start with the letters “SL” before proceeding with several numbers.

Single agency: Single agency is a broader form of representation that allows a licensee to provide full loyalty, confidentiality, obedience and full disclosure. This requires a higher level of fiduciary duty than a transaction brokerage. An agent cannot represent both a buyer and seller acting as a single agent.

Timeshare: Florida put this word on the map. A timeshare refers to an arrangement whereby several owners have the right to use a property as a vacation home under a timeshare agreement. Timeshares are governed by Florida State Statutes Chapter 721.

Transaction brokerage: This form of representation allows a real estate agent in the state of Florida to represent both a buyer and a seller in a transaction. It allows the agent to provide a limited form of representation whereby the agent must deal honestly and fairly, account for all funds, use skill care and diligence, disclose all known facts that could materially affect the value of residential real property and are not readily observable to the buyer; presenting all offers and counter offers in a timely manner and limited confidentiality that will prevent disclosure of what price a buyer may be willing to pay or the price a seller would be willing to sell for, the motivation of any party buying or selling property and any other information requested deemed confidential. Transaction brokerage means that a buyer or seller is not responsible for the acts of the licensee and is also giving up their rights for undivided loyalty of the licensee.

Wood destroying organisms (WDO) inspection/report: It is very common in Florida to have a WDO inspection to check for the presence of termites or other organisms that can cause wood rot such as powder post beetles. This inspection also looks for any signs of wood rot or decay, whether that is caused by insects, moisture or water. A WDO inspection is required for buyers using FHA and VA financing, however, most buyers opt to have this inspection done no matter how they intend to pay for the home. The inspector must hold a specific state license to allow him or her to perform this inspection.

In sum, although there are numerous real estate terms to decipher, as you embark on your real estate journey in Florida, this primer will help you understand some of the more common ones that you are likely to encounter. When in doubt, ask a trusted Floridian real estate professional!.

Another great article from Inman!!

Keeping a vegetable or flower garden is one of the most rewarding things you can do during the warm months. It’s an excuse to get outside, grow delicious food, save money on groceries, and learn about the art of gardening.

One of the keys to a healthy garden is to maintain your soil quality. There are a number of ways you can achieve this, from buying fertilizer, to mixing in lime, manure and other additives. One way to improve your garden soil quality while also reducing household waste is to start composting.

In this article, we present a guide to garden composting that will help you grow healthier plants and find a new purpose for the waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.

What is composting?

Composting is a lot like recycling. It’s nature’s way of reusing minerals and nutrients from organic matter by putting them back into the soil.

Most of us are averse to rotting fruit and vegetables, but they’re packed with the nutrients that your garden needs to flourish.

Benefits of composting

Aside from increasing the nutrients in your soil, composting can help in a number of other ways. It will help the soil retain moisture, meaning you’ll have to water less, it can help you save money on fertilizer, and it will yield healthier plants and fruit that have a higher nutritional value.

Better yet, aside from the cost of buying or building a composting bin, it’s a free resource.

Compost bins

Most homeowners who compost their organic waste do so by buying or building a composting bin. These range from simple wooden boxes to barrels built on a spit for rotating.

Generally, compost bins are either wooden (unstained) or plastic. Metal will generally rust, and you don’t want to mix rust into your garden.

The key to good composting is being able to move the composting matter around so that it can receive oxygen. However, you’ll also want to be able to keep it moist to encourage decomposition.

If you decide to start off with just a simple wooden box for your compost, make sure you have easy access to a shovel to mix the compost around.

In terms of location, you probably don’t want your bin to be too close to your home. Decomposition doesn’t smell great, and you won’t want the odors floating through your windows on a hot summer day.

What to compost

The number of things you can toss into your compost bin is surprisingly large. However, here’s a short list of some common compostable items:

Fruits and vegetables, coffee grinds, leaves and grass clippings, breads, and cereals.

There are more advanced composting methods that can break down things like newspaper, paper bags, and egg cartons, but it’s best to start with organic materials.

Maintaining your compost bin

There are a few key steps to maintaining a healthy compost bin. First, make sure you have a variety of materials in it. Putting only one type of organic matter in your compost bin will make it hard to break down. A mixture of leaves, clippings, and fruits and vegetables will yield better results than just grass clippings.

Next, make sure you keep it moist by watering the compost heap once a week, or whenever it seems like it’s drying out.

Finally, rotate or mix the composting material around with a shovel. This will help matter break down faster and more evenly.

Before buying a home, you may have a number in mind as to how many houses you think that you should look at before you find the house that's right for you. You may wonder if you’ve looked too much or not enough while you’re in the process of searching for a home. The fact of the matter is that how many homes you look at is completely up to you. It’s a very personal preference. If you feel comfortable after looking at one house, you’re probably right. Trust your own intuition!

The average condo buyer takes between 1 to 3 months to find the right property. House buyers take a bit longer, averaging between 3 and 6 months of searching. The home buying process seems to entail a few more questions and a bit of a learning curve, which tends to take more time. This is obviously why first time buyers tend to take more time searching.

How To Have A Successful House Hunt:

Map Out Your Potential Neighborhoods

Before you even get in touch with your realtor, you should have an idea of the neighborhoods you’d like to look for a home in. Drive around your potential towns and hang out there. Go to local restaurants, see the downtown area and check out the grocery store. See how you feel being there, and if you’d like it to be part of what you call “home.” 

Know Your Lifestyle

Where your friends live, where you work and what you like to do for fun all have an impact on the type of neighborhood that you’ll choose to search for a home in. If you love to golf, and the nearest course is more than 30 miles away, maybe you should reconsider where you’re searching. Of course, you want your commute time to and from work to be as short as possible.   

Decide What You Need

Make a list of everything that you absolutely need to have in your home and neighborhood. Narrow down your wish-list to that of “must-haves.” Then, understand your own budget for a home purchase. Knowing your finances will also give you a better idea of where you should focus your search. Once your focus is narrowed, you’ll be able to work with your realtor more freely. Being able to tell your realtor what you want and what you can afford is a great step in the right direction during the home search process.

Taking the time to know what you want out of where you want to live can help you to search for the right home. So, while there’s no magic number of homes to look at before you buy, it’s a better idea to understand your wants and needs and go from there.


Spring is a time of change. Everything feels new and exciting. It’s a great time to start searching for a new home. Before you head out on the house hunt, you should take the time to review what you can expect if you’re heading out on the house hunt this spring.

There May Be Less Inventory

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, you may be in a tight spot. As inventory is low over the entire market, there are less lower end homes put up for sale in the spring. Prices are rising as well so people who may have been in the market for more expensive homes may have recently seen their number of choices drop. It may take some extra time and effort for first-time homebuyers to find a property. 

Homes That Are On The Market Sell Fast

The springtime brings a bit more competition from buyers. Although there’s low inventory, the spring brings out more buyers which means more competition. If you find a home you love, don’t wait. Houses that are in excellent condition sell within days of being on the market this time of year. You may even need to pay a bit above asking price in order to secure a home you fall in love with. Being flexible in your contingencies and closing dates can help you to entice sellers a bit more when you put an offer in on a property. 

Keep The State Of The Financial World In Mind

Interest rates may rise by the time spring rolls around. You really never know. If you see a reasonable mortgage rate and can get pre-approved, lock it in. It can help you to balance out your finances when you’re purchasing a home. Keep in mind that higher rates may actually decrease your home buying power altogether. Do your research and talk to a lender to get the best rates especially when you’re buying a home in the spring.

Overlook Some Things

If you’re heading out to buy your first home in the spring, you may have along list of things that you’re looking for in a home. Try and be as flexible as you can with that list. If you’re serious about buying a home, you may have to look at properties with their potential in mind rather than their face value. 

Make Sure You’re Preapproved

Getting a preapproval is very important when you’re heading out to buy a home in the spring. This step can give you a leg up on the competition once you put an offer in. Having this piece of the puzzle during your home search can help you to get a home you love. 

If you are in need a lender, here is one I love working with.

 Please let her know I sent you!!

Here is a great article from Inman about preparing a home for a spring listing

Inman chatted with some top real estate agents located in areas where spring is here or right around the corner. They dished on how they help clients get their listings ready for peak selling season. Here are six tips from the pros.

1. Spring cleaning is serious business

According to Darlene Umina, a top agent at Lamacchia Realty in Framingham, Massachusetts, step one is a serious spring cleaning. Though this may seem obvious, Umina likes to spell it out to clients with the advice: “You clean like never before, and then you clean again.”

Photo by Logan Nolin on Unsplash

If it has been a harsh winter — and this one has been a doozy — Umina said the cleaning should include a pressure wash on the outside of the house, and windows washed inside and out throughout the house.

Spring smells are a part of the joy of the new season and if there is a lawn, get it mowed shortly before an open house so it smells of fresh-cut grass. Scatter around some fresh bark mulch, too, Umina advises.

Even if it’s still chilly, the agent will go through and open all the windows in the house on the morning of the open house and leave a couple open during the tours to ensure the air isn’t stuffy.

2. Boost the lighting

Lighting is key, added Umina.

Replace any energy-saving bulbs with strong traditional ones, even if it’s just temporarily.

Photo by Aaron Huber on Unsplash

“Having that bright warm light makes a huge difference,” she said. And make sure cleaning the light shades is on the list of to-dos to maximize brightness.

If the light fixtures in the house leave something to be desired, check out this list of the best and brightest examples of ceiling decor.

3. Create pops of color throughout

Try to create “pops of color” throughout the home, recommended Umina, who will always have a big bunch of seasonal flowers right by the area where people come to sign in for the open house, along with some nicely wrapped cookies on a tray to take away.

Courtesy of Darlene Umina of Lamacchia Realty

Meanwhile, store away any blankets draped over sofas and replace them with bright throw pillows — perhaps some with flowers or spring accents, but nothing overbearing. The Lamacchia Realty agent likes light, classy, toile cushions in turquoise for a punch of “unassuming color.”

Photo by Naomi Hébert on Unsplash

Another excuse for color in the kitchen is a large mason jar full of homemade lemonade, with slices of lemon and ice to bring the “summer is coming” message home. Add a stack of colorful cups next to it.

“People love it in spring; it’s the first taste of summer,” said Umina.

According to Amy Klupp with The Holden Agency in Ohio, another market emerging from a long winter, white and pale gray are popular colors in her neighborhoods this spring. Buyers want to see light gray walls, lots of white trim, or white paint over native honey oak walls and light-colored furniture.

4. Consider using shiplap to your advantage

Shiplap, a type of wooden board traditionally used only in home exteriors, is now seen commonly on the inside to give a room a new look, said Klupp. These horizontal wood planks painted white or the color of your choice can be arranged in bathrooms or as an accent wall in a living room, especially if there is an open floor plan.

fusaromike / Getty Images

Klupp, who does staging for other agents as well as herself, often advises clients to paint old brick fireplaces a crisp white to lighten the room.

She uncovered the original mantelpiece in a home recently and stained it black, which looked very attractive against the contrast of the white fireplace.

5. ‘Wow’ buyers from the start

How does the house look from the front? Think about planting some white impatiens, make sure there is plenty of greenery and throw in some contrasting black bark, suggested Highland Partners’ Debbi DiMaggio based in Piedmont, California.

Inside, visually and literally lighten up the furniture — i.e., take out any heavy pieces and think about replacing them with contemporary mid-century pieces that are elegant and lightweight,  à la Restoration Hardware or Westelm-style, she said.

Photo by Alberto Castillo Q. on Unsplash

If there is a budget for it, flooring can make a big difference. DiMaggio will always suggest replacing carpet on the stairs, and she likes luxury linoleum to freshen up laundry rooms or kitchens.

Finally, think about putting a fountain in the backyard — they are easy to find at hardware stores and can add a touch of class and fun.

6. Be accessible

And to be truly spring friendly, be accessible for the wave of traffic you’re likely to get to a well-priced and well-staged home, and have the home ready for viewing on both Saturday and Sunday for open houses, advised DiMaggio. “New buyers are always coming into the market,” she said.

Email Gill South.