It was a case of second time lucky for Keith and Marilyn Baines when they bought their Florida villa in 2013.
They had previously turned down the opportunity to buy a similar property and had regretted it ever since. Now they talk to us about life in the sunshine state and whether their American dream became a reality.
Can you begin by telling us a bit more about yourselves? And what attracted you to Florida?
We’re both in our early sixties and have lived in Lichfield, Staffordshire for most of our lives. I work as a Compliance Manager but retired in March this year. My wife Marilyn is a self-employed Brand Ambassador for P&G
During a holiday with our family back in 2013, we noticed a nearby property that was up for sale and our curiosity got the better of us so we had a look. We were amazed at the value and quality of homes that were available in Florida. So once we were back at home, the search began!
It wasn’t just the affordability of the property that attracted us - we have been to Florida numerous times before and were very familiar with the American lifestyle and culture, there was something about it which really appealed to us.
There was also the big draw of escaping to the tropical heat while the rest of the UK goes through cold winters.
How would you describe your property?
We bought a single storey villa in the gated community of Mission Park in Clermont for around £115,000.
We’re absolutely delighted with it because it fits in with all of our requirements with four bedrooms plus a shared swimming pool, games room and basketball court. It’s also only nine miles from Disney World which is fantastic for when our children and grandchildren come to visit.
Did you do a lot of research before beginning the process? How straight forward did you find it?
We visited A Place in the Sun Live at the NEC in Birmingham in September 2013 and obtained as much information as we could from the companies that were exhibiting. We collected a lot of brochures and information, including A Place in the Sun magazine. We have since been to the 2014 and 2015 exhibitions and had the pleasure off meeting and talking to Jonnie Irwin.
We think the whole process of purchasing a property in the USA is much simpler than here in the UK. The key was to find a realtor who knew the area, understood our requirements and who we felt we could trust. This was important because although we knew the area well.
We found a good realtor who gave us plenty of advice and various contacts i.e. surveyors, legal and accounting firms.
How do you plan to spend your time in the property?
The main plan is to try to get as much use from the property as possible so that means plenty of holidays for us and our family and friends. I’m sure there will also be plenty of time to relax, do some DIY and explore the local area.
Over the next few years we hope to gradually spend more time at the house especially during the winter months.
We also bought with an eye to the future because we hope the property will appreciate in value as we bought at a time when prices were at their lowest for many years.
Do you have any advice for other people looking to buy in Florida?
- Get as much information as you can before going to view properties because it always pays to know what you are getting yourself in for.
- Find a good realtor that will go out of the way for you and one that you can trust.
- Get an independent survey done on the property.
- Remember it’s not just the purchase price to consider but also HOA fees, Annual County Tax (ACT), management fees and maintenance costs, property insurance and not forgetting the utility bills, broadband and cable costs.