Saturday, July 17, 2010

Homesteading in Florida

New residents of Florida who use a mortgage company to finance their home quickly discover that the ways things are done here are a little different than the way they're done in most other places. 

When we moved to Florida the first time and purchased our house in Casselberry, the real estate agent took extra time to explain the in's and out's of the Florida Homestead Exemption, which at that time was $25,000.  A couple of years ago the exemption was raised to $50,000 under certain conditions. 

For the unfamilar, the exemption allows Florida residents to save a little money on their property taxes each year.  Example:  With a $50,000 exemption, a $200,000 home is taxed based on a $150,000 ad valorem tax rate if all the qualifications are met. Read more at

Another little known wrinkle that probably trips up a few new residents each year regards spouses and their "right to know" about financial affairs that affect them presently or in the future. This article on explains it well.
The Florida Constitution requires that every deed, mortgage, or other transfer of an interest in homestead property be signed by both the husband and the wife, even if only one of them is in title.  
So prospective home buyers in Florida moving here from out of state -- be sure you plan to bring your spouse with you to the mortgage closing. Failing to do so could create a few different scenarios of unpleasant events. Be nice to your spouses folks.  You don't want to get them on your bad side when it comes to mortgages and property ownership in Florida. More from the article:
An equally frustrating situation is that of a buyer in the middle of an acrimonious divorce, whose spouse refuses to sign anything while they are still married. You can imagine the potential for some unscrupulous twisting of facts in order to make the transaction close.
If you're a true information junkie, like me, and enjoy learning more than you really need to know about mundane topics, you might like to explore this topic further by reading this article from Florida Homestead Services. also provides a Q&A and multiple articles on the Florida Homestead Exemption, Agricultural Classification, How to Appeal Denials, etc.

If you would prefer to read the actual Florida Law click here.  The Florida Department of Revenue also provides several useful links for a varierty of situations.

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