With its sun-kissed beaches, vibrant cultural scene, and balmy tropical climate, Fort Lauderdale beckons with the promise of a luxurious waterfront lifestyle. Living here puts you squarely in the middle of all the good things South Florida has to offer.
If you’re considering this bustling seaside city as your new home, there are a few pointers to keep in mind.
1. Know what you’re buying
Homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale are one of the most sought after in Broward County, FL. Before you get a slice of this paradise, make it a point to know what you’re buying into.
Here’s what to expect:
- Minutes away from the nearest beach. Fort Lauderdale is renowned for its stunning beaches, including the iconic Fort Lauderdale Beach and Las Olas Beach. Consider your proximity to these sandy shores and the general lifestyle of the city.
- Boating and waterfront living. The intricate canal system is iconic to Fort Lauderdale and a pleasure for boat and waterfront living enthusiasts. Fortunately, there are plenty of homes to choose from. In January 2024, there were 1,252 waterfront homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale encompassing single-family homes, condos, townhouses, and multifamily homes. So now is the time to search for homes that guarantee you are never far away from exciting water activities.
- Culturally vibrant. Fort Lauderdale offers a diverse array of attractions that art enthusiasts and history buffs will love. Top cultural attractions include Bonnet House Museum & Gardens, the historic Las Olas Boulevard, and the Broward Center for Performing Arts.
2. Shortlist your top neighborhoods
Fort Lauderdale offers incredible choices when it comes to neighborhoods. Below are some of them.
- Downtown Fort Lauderdale. The city’s bustling urban core offers a mix of residential and commercial spaces. It’s a hub for cultural events, dining, and nightlife.
- Victoria Park. A sought-after neighborhood thanks to its long history and a vibe that harkens back to the charms of Old Florida. This upscale area features streets lined with royal palm, live oak, and mahogany trees. Homes boast a mix of architectural styles, from Mediterranean Revival to Contemporary.
- Coral Ridge. Ideal for families, Coral Ridge has top-rated schools, parks, and a range of housing options, from modest single-family homes to spacious waterfront estates.
3. Understand the tax policies in Florida
In addition to home prices, which range from $360,000 to well over $10 million, buyers need to understand Florida’s tax policies. Some key things to remember are:
- Florida’s Homestead Exemption. This provision is designed to reduce the property tax burden on homeowners. It provides eligible residents with a reduction in the assessed value of their primary residence for property tax purposes, leading to lower property taxes. Here’s how to apply.
- Florida’s changing tax policy. New homeowners should be aware that following a change in property ownership, state laws require county property appraisers to eliminate any existing tax exemptions and reevaluate the property. This reassessment occurs annually on January 1.
4. Stay local
While there are plenty of homes for sale in Fort Lauderdale, it’s counterproductive to buy on your own. Work with a local real estate agent to make the most of the opportunities presented by the current market.
If you live close to the area, attend open houses for a first-hand look at what’s available. Check out the neighborhood as well and immerse yourself in the local culture if you can. Go to farmers markets, little league games, and other community events.
Have your Realtor recommend local stores and must-sees. Your experiences will inform your decision making down the line.
5. Browse the official community website
Check out the Fort Lauderdale website as part of your due diligence. Get to know what the city is up to, such as its development plans and upcoming major projects. Find out how they can potentially impact the neighborhoods you’ve shortlisted.
6. Make hurricane preparedness a habit
Fort Lauderdale and other Broward County communities experience hurricanes between the months of June and November. If you’re considering moving to the city, it’s best to be prepared. Get a home insurance, which is not mandatory in Florida, but which your lender may require. Note, too, that a standard home insurance covers wind damage.
Top it off with a separate flood insurance. The cost in Florida is less than $600 a month, which is lower than the national average of $734 per month.
Finally, order a wind mitigation inspection. Now a common practice in Broward County, a wind mitigation inspection assesses key areas in the home for their ability to withstand strong winds and prevent water seepage. It has another perk – legally mandated discounts on your home insurance when it gets a passing grade on the inspection. Thus, the more wind-resistant features your house has (upgraded materials, higher-rated doors and windows, etc.), the greater the discount on your insurance.
7. Understand closing costs and out-of-pocket expenses in Florida
In Florida, buyers shoulder about 3% to 5% of the closing costs with the seller covering 5% to 10%. According to mortgage solutions provider Closing Corps, the average closing costs for a Florida home priced at $375,368 is $8,554.
Other out-of-pocket costs that buyer and seller incur are:
- Mortgage costs (if the transaction requires financing)
- Settlement fee (for cash transaction)
- Appraisal and survey
- Title search
- Home inspection
- Notary fees
- Escrow fees
- Agent commission/broker fee (around 5% to 6% of the selling price)
- Taxes (up to the last day the sellers owned the home)
- Title transfer fees
- Homeowner association fees
- Other outstanding liens such as utility bills