If you’re in the market to purchase a property in Tampa, Florida, there are costs associated with closing the sale. And there are also costs the seller is responsible for. Here are the usual closing costs that a buyer and a seller must both pay.

Buyer: Closing Costs in Florida for Cash Deals

If purchasing a property in Florida with cash, make note of these three closing costs:

  • Deed recording fees
  • Inspection
  • Attorney fees

Buyer: Closing Costs in Florida for Financed Deals

Here are eight additional closing costs you must pay if you finance the purchase:

  • Taxes/recording fees on mortgages and notes
  • Intangible tax on mortgage
  • Recording fees
  • Survey
  • Lender origination fees
  • Lender’s title policy and endorsement
  • Appraisal fees
  • Pest inspection

Seller: Closing Costs When Selling a Property in Florida

The seller’s closing costs are stated in the real estate contract. These costs include:

  • Surtax on the deed and documentary stamp
  • Charges for title search
  • Leftover HOA/Condominium Association fees
  • Recording and other fees when curing the title
  • Attorney fees
  • Realtor’s commission

Important Note for Buyers and Sellers About Title Insurance

Purchasing title insurance protects you against claims that you aren’t the rightful owner of the property. If financing, lenders require you to purchase it. Cash buyers aren’t obligated, but it’s recommended they do so to protect themselves in the future. In some counties in Florida, the seller must pay for the title insurance.

Remember, though, that sellers can’t require a buyer to use a specific title company as a condition of the sale. Buyers can sue a seller who violates this provision.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 813-549-0096 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

There are two types of real estate contracts in Florida, including the ‘as is’ real estate contract. In a nutshell, an ‘as is’ real estate contract specifies that the person purchasing the property must do so in its existing condition without demanding the seller make any upgrades or repairs. The contract also states the purchaser has a short time period – usually 15 calendar days – to get the property inspected. Upon inspection, if the property needs repairs, the purchaser can ask the seller to lower its selling price or provide a credit at closing to cover the future repair costs. If the seller declines, the purchaser can back out of the contract within that time period.

Sellers Must Disclose Things About the Property to Prospective Buyers

If you’re debating whether to purchase a property using an ‘as in’ contract, it’s important to note a seller must disclose the following things about the property:

  • Potential or actual complaints, claims or legal proceedings
  • Disputes regarding boundaries
  • Pest damage and infestations
  • Potential or actual damage from sinkholes, whether past or present
  • Environmental hazards
  • Problems with HVAC, plumbing, roof, electrical, etc.
  • Homeowners association rules to comply by

Although it gives you less time to inspect the property, an ‘as is’ real estate contract offers more flexibility to back out of a deal if you’re a buyer.

Stephen K. Hachey can help you wade through this difficult process to reach a positive solution. Call 813-549-0096 today!

***The opinions in this blog are those of the author whom takes full responsibility for the content. Like all other content on the site, this does not constitute legal advice and is for general information purposes only.***

Updated: 6/2/23

In the context of real estate transactions, a title company plays a crucial role, particularly in handling escrow. When a buyer makes a purchase offer, they are often expected to include an earnest money deposit. This deposit serves as a demonstration of the buyer's serious intent to purchase the property. Once the offer is accepted and the purchase contract is signed, this money is deposited in escrow, typically held by a title company.

The Escrow Process

The escrow process is a critical part of a real estate transaction. If all goes well and the sale proceeds as planned, the earnest money held in escrow is applied towards the down payment and closing costs of the sale. However, if the deal falls through for any reason, the title company's role becomes even more significant.

In such a scenario, the title company freezes the funds in escrow. It then reviews the terms of the purchase agreement to determine whether the buyer is entitled to get the earnest deposit back.

Contract Cancellation and Escrow Funds

The cancellation of a contract can occur due to a variety of reasons. Perhaps the seller fails to fulfill the terms of the purchase contract, or there's an issue with the appraisal or inspection. Alternatively, the buyer may be unable to secure the necessary financing to finalize the sale.

In any of these cases, unless otherwise stated in the contract, the buyer would typically be entitled to a refund of the deposit. The exact amount returned may vary, as there's often a cancellation fee deducted from the earnest deposit.

Dealing with Refusal of Fund Release by the Title Company

Despite the terms of the contract, there may be instances where a title company refuses to release the buyer’s funds. If you find yourself in such a situation, it's advisable to consult with a real estate attorney. Legal action may be necessary to ensure the interests of the buyer are protected and the funds are rightfully returned.


Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
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Navigating the ins and outs of real estate foreclosure isn’t always simple. Purchasing a home at auction can seem like a lucrative and astute method of acquiring property, but what many prospective bidders do not realize when entering a foreclosure auction is that when they purchase a property, they are liable for any and all outstanding liens against that property. It pays to know exactly what you’re getting into before biting off more than you could chew.

Florida Statute §718.116 expressly states that “A unit owner, regardless of how his or her title has been acquired, including by purchase at a foreclosure sale or by deed in lieu of foreclosure, is liable for all assessments which come due while he or she is the unit owner. Additionally, a unit owner is jointly and severally liable with the previous owner for all unpaid assessments that came due up to the time of transfer of title.”

This means that both the previous owner and the new deed holder are jointly and separately responsible for the HOA assessment lien on the property. The good news is that there is a statutory cap on the amount the HOA can collect from the new purchaser (up to 12 months’ worth of assessments or 1% of the original mortgage debt); however, full liability remains with the previous owner and the Association is within their rights to seek out full restitution.

If you are considering buying property at auction in the state of Florida, perform a title search of the particular real estate you’re looking to own prior to bidding in order to determine what kind, if any, liens are held against the property as you will be responsible for all of them, not just the HOA. Taking this extra step will eliminate ugly surprises and leave your feel-good memory of having the winning bid unblemished.

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At the peak of the housing bubble, real estate scammers were crawling out of their proverbial fleapits in troves, running get-rich-quick house flipping scams or posing as mortgage brokers issuing predatory loans to susceptible borrowers. When the bubble burst, it seemed real estate scammers were at an end, but soon the same charlatans were back at it, capitalizing on the misfortune of millions of desperate homeowners hoping to save their homes from foreclosure. Today, real estate scammers have only become more astute and sophisticated, using elaborate cons to fool impressionable renters and vulnerable homeowners out of their hard earned cash.

Since the market crash, federal and state governments have taken numerous measures to prevent real estate scams. Nevertheless, crooks continue to thrive at the expense of unsuspecting consumers. Taking the following precautions can help you safely navigate the often complicated world of real estate whether you are renting, looking to invest or you are a homeowner facing a tough economic downturn.
Renters should be suspicious of any listings that are not immediately available for viewing or require money up front, have excessive application fees or ask that payments be made to a third party.

Homeowners struggling with their mortgage should proceed with extreme caution when entering any loan counseling or modification program. If the counseling agency is collecting exorbitant fees up front in exchange for modifying your mortgage loan, is not listed by the US Department of HUD (Housing and Urban Development), or persistently promises you will retain your home, this is most likely a scam. Investors should research prospects thoroughly, cross-check listings and verify brokers before making any monetary commitments.

Finally, follow your instincts; deals that seem too good to be true probably are. Never sign anything you haven’t read thoroughly and ask questions if and when you do not fully understand any particular thing. As a consumer, being proactive is your single best defense against con artists; following these simple safety precautions can help you avoid being taken for a ride and ultimately save you thousands of dollars.

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With the recent housing crisis, more people started asking whether buying or renting a home is the better option. While the housing market is on the rise, buying still might not be your best option. Or maybe it is. Before you decide on whether to buy or rent your home, take these pros and cons into consideration.

When you buy your home, you become your own landlord. Not only will you be allowed to do whatever you choose with the property (taking homeowner association laws into consideration), purchasing your home allows you the stability of knowing that you won’t have to move unexpectedly should a problem arise with the property or the lease runs out.

On the other hand, things happen. Maybe you aren’t settled into your career, you’re still looking for a life partner, or you are hoping for a promotion that might send you elsewhere. Having a lease allows you the freedom to move about as you wish. It also prevents you from having additional costly expenses.

Many people believe that paying off their mortgage is the equivalent of paying rent, except they receive an asset in exchange. While this is true, there are several costs involved in owning a home including closing costs, regular maintenance, lawn care, home repair, bills, insurance, and home improvements and upgrades. When you rent a home and your refrigerator stops working or you have a leak, your landlord is responsible for purchasing and replacing the appliance or paying for the plumber to come and make the proper repairs.

Depending on your situation, it may be easy to decide the best option. But if you still aren’t sure and you are financially concerned, it is recommended to calculate the Price to Rent ratio (P/R ratio) by finding two similar houses, condos, or apartments (one for rent and one for sale) and dividing the sale price by the annual rent. As the P/R ratio climbs, it becomes more reasonable to rent, especially if the ratio reaches or exceeds 20.

Still not sure? Head to the New York Times ‘Is it Better to Buy or Rent’ calculator and plug in the numbers.

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Closing on your home can be a very exciting time, but for many, it can turn into a disaster. What you see isn’t always what you get. So how does this happen?

The answer is slightly complicated.

When you buy a home, you rely on the real estate agent, home seller and the inspector to be open and honest with you. You expect them to disclose all the pros and cons of the property and you rely on their word. The sad fact is however, not everyone is truthful.

In many cases, there are problems with the house that nobody tells you about and you don’t see until you get settled in. For one couple, this meant finding out that water leaked into the basement every time it rained. The home seller, however, had repainted the entire basement to hide the water damage so the problem went unnoticed until after the sale of the home.

In another case, an inspector may tell you that a problem in the house is a simple and cheap repair that ends up costing the buyer thousands of dollars. In these cases, you should ask that the repairs be done before you purchase the home.

And even more people run into troubles purchasing a home because the paperwork has not been filled out legally. Each state has different laws for selling a home. Different forms must be filled out and certain legal language must be used in each one. If the paperwork is not written up properly or signed correctly, you may find out months or years later that the closing was not legal and therefore not final.

And then there’s the issue we have all become aware of in the last few years–the burst of the housing bubble. Many people have bought property in a housing complex that has since gone bankrupt, leaving their home, or half built home, the only structure standing in a desolate area.

So before you purchase your home, make sure to not only check it out thoroughly, but get second opinions as well as do research behind the area and the people involved to make sure that when you close your home, you know what you are getting into.

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Escrow. It is a term we hear often, but what exactly is escrow? According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, escrow is defined as a deed, a bond, money, or a piece of property held in trust by a third party to be turned over to the grantee only upon fulfillment of a condition. In the real estate world, this simply means a list of specific instructions that must be done by both seller and buyer before the property’s deed can be handed over. One of the most important aspects of this list is the securing of a loan.

So what happens after the loan has been approved and the documents have been prepared?

If provided in your Purchase Agreement, you should do a final walk through with your agent to ensure that all repairs have been made and the property is exactly as it was promised to you. You will then make an appointment to go to a Title Company to sign the loan documents and escrow instructions in the presence of a notary. The lender will then review the documents one last time before sending the loan to escrow.

When all parties have signed off on the escrow stating that the terms and conditions of the escrow have been met, the escrow officer will set a date for the closing of the escrow and will take care of all of the technical and financial details.

At the close of escrow, you will be required to present proof of homeowner’s insurance. The seller will be required to show proof of warranties, inspection, appraisal, ect. The escrow officer will then list for both parties the amount owed on either side for prepaid taxes, unpaid taxes, down payments, refunds, ect. When all the documentation has been verified and agreed upon and you have signed the mortgage note—the promise to repay the loan—you will receive the deed.

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The answer in one word: Yes.

In Florida, the Department of Banking and Finance oversees all aspects of mortgage license laws. The most current regulations regarding Mortgage Brokers in Florida became effective in July 1992. These regulations apply to anyone who solicits mortgage loans on a borrower’s behalf, accepts an application for a mortgage loan, or negotiates the terms of a mortgage loan. Under these regulations, it’s legal for brokers and lenders to charge an application fee.

Understanding Application Fees

Application fees are charges that brokers and lenders impose to cover the costs of processing your loan application. These fees can vary widely, typically ranging from $150 to $400. The amount depends on several factors, including the complexity of the loan, the broker’s business model, and market conditions. While these fees are a standard part of the mortgage process, it’s important to understand what you’re paying for and to ensure the fees are reasonable.

Payment of Application Fees

Brokers and lenders may collect application fees in different ways. Some may require payment upfront as a way to offset the costs of processing your loan, while others collect the fee at closing. Paying upfront can give the lender leverage over you throughout the process, potentially affecting the level of service you receive. On the other hand, paying at closing can help ensure that the lender remains committed to providing good service throughout the loan process.

Potential Risks and How to Avoid Them

Paying an application fee upfront carries certain risks. For instance, the level of service may drop after payment, or you could fall victim to a scam. It’s also important to note that application fees are usually non-refundable. To avoid these risks, consider negotiating to pay the fee at closing. This arrangement can help ensure that the lender remains motivated to provide good service and complete the loan process.

Choosing the Right Broker/Lender

When choosing a broker or lender, it’s important to consider more than just the application fee. Look at the overall loan terms, the lender’s reputation, and the quality of service they provide. Shopping around can help you find the best rate and the best broker or lender for your needs. Remember, the cheapest option isn’t always the best. It’s crucial to find a lender who is trustworthy, transparent, and committed to helping you secure the right mortgage for your situation.


Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
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Updated: 6/2/23

Real estate terms and words can become confusing, but it is important to know what you are talking about when you enter into a real estate transaction. In Florida, you might be signing a mortgage or a promissory note. Make sure you know the difference before you sign, because it could have an impact on what you are getting and what you owe.

Understanding a Promissory Note

In the realm of real estate transactions, a promissory note is a critical document. Essentially, it's a contract where one party, typically the buyer, agrees to pay another party, usually the lender, a specific sum of money. In the context of Florida real estate, a promissory note often outlines the buyer's agreement to make monthly mortgage payments to their lender.

The promissory note is all about the financial obligation. It details the sum of money owed, the method of payment, the payment terms, and the date by which the loan will be completely paid off. Interestingly, a promissory note does not have to reference the property at all. Instead, it focuses solely on the financial agreement between the buyer and the lender.

Understanding a Mortgage

A mortgage, on the other hand, is all about property. It represents the transfer of an interest in a property from one party to another. In a typical real estate transaction, the individuals who own the property will sign the mortgage. They might also sign a promissory note, but these are two distinct documents.

The mortgage is intrinsically linked to the property. It must be attached to a specific property and recorded in the county or town recording office, as it references the property that has been purchased. Unlike a promissory note, which is simply filed with the lender, a mortgage involves a government or civic entity due to its connection to the property.

Comparing a Promissory Note and a Mortgage

While both a promissory note and a mortgage are integral to a real estate transaction, they serve different purposes and carry different implications. Here's a more detailed comparison of these two concepts:

Purpose and Content:

A promissory note is essentially a financial agreement. It outlines the amount of money the borrower owes to the lender, the interest rate, the payment schedule, and the maturity date of the loan. It's a legally binding document that holds the borrower accountable for repaying the loan. However, it does not have any direct connection to the property being purchased.

On the other hand, a mortgage is a legal document that ties the loan to the property. It gives the lender the right to take possession of the property if the borrower fails to make the agreed-upon payments. The mortgage includes details about the property, the identities of the borrower and lender, and the terms of the loan. It also outlines the procedures for foreclosure, which is the legal process the lender must follow if the borrower defaults on the loan.

Legal Implications:

When a borrower signs a promissory note, they are legally committing to repay the loan according to the terms outlined in the note. If the borrower fails to make the agreed-upon payments, the lender can take legal action to collect the debt. This could involve suing the borrower in court and obtaining a judgment to garnish wages or seize assets.

Signing a mortgage, however, gives the lender a claim against the property. If the borrower defaults on the loan, the lender can initiate foreclosure proceedings to sell the property and recover the loan amount. The foreclosure process varies by state, but it generally involves a public auction where the property is sold to the highest bidder.


Both promissory notes and mortgages can be sold or transferred by the lender. When a promissory note is transferred, the new holder has the right to collect the debt. When a mortgage is transferred, the new holder gains the right to foreclose on the property if the borrower defaults on the loan.

The Legal Implications of Signing a Promissory Note and a Mortgage

Signing a promissory note or a mortgage is not a decision to be taken lightly. These documents carry significant legal implications, and violating their terms can lead to serious consequences. If you find yourself facing a situation where you're unsure about these documents, it's advisable to seek legal advice.

This article is for general informational purposes only and does not establish an attorney-client relationship. Please contact a licensed attorney in your state of residence. For more information on our services, please visit our website at www.floridarealestatelawyer.org


Stephen K. Hachey P.A. Stephen K. Hachey P.A.
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