What do I need to buy a villa in Florida?

What to do to purchase a holiday home in the sunshine state

So, as I sit here after a freezing cold bike ride home from the station, I am thinking to myself “who else wants to invest in a house or villa in the USA, it’s nice and toasty warm out there?”.  But how do you go about such an investment and how easy is it in reality to buy a villa abroad?


Buy a villa in Florida….

Questions questions questions

It’s pretty simple actually.  You just need to think about what you want to budget and what’s important to you.

  • Do you intend to short term rent the villa, or just let out to friends and family?
  • What style do you want?  Condo, single family home?
  • How big do you want the villa – large villas tend to attract more wear and tear
  • What location works best for rentals?
  • How will you buy?  Do you intend to finance the villa through cash or a US mortgage, or a UK re-mortgage?
  • Are you going to list the villa and do all of the bookings yourself?  Where are you going to advertise?
  • Who will you use to manage the villa when you are away?
  • Will you use a home warranty or take the risk?
  • Which communities do you like in Florida and what sort of maintenance fee for the association are you looking for?
  • Do you want a gated community and the extra expense?
  • Where are you going to find research material before you take the plunge?
  • Who will do the book-keeping?


Next is the realtor. A good realtor will be happy to take your money (well, it’s usually the seller’s money) in exchange for a top quality service.  Donna and I found a realtor through a holiday homes show in the UK, then arranged to visit them in a few months once we were ready for our trip to Orlando.  When we arrived in Orlando we then spent three days looking at communities and villas for sale and gleaming any advice we could get.

We learned a lot from our realtor and subsequent experience, especially to choose:

  • South facing pool
  • Large pool and deck
  • Spa
  • Turn-key condition
  • Wide plots with quiet neighborhood
  • Good home owners association
  • Single storey (our preferred choice)
  • Community with high occupancy and repeat rentals (Tuscan Ridge)
  • Recently replaced appliances including air con and pool heater

What else do I do to buy a villa?

All we needed to do on top of the realtor service was to:

  • Decide on the questions above
  • Decide on the right house, then put in an offer
  • Once the offer is accepted it is legally binding for the seller
  • Get a US bank account, we chose SunTrust but their international wire rates are high, so there may be other options such as Citibank.  All we needed was a British passport and $100
  • Get our passport verified by the British consulate in Orlando (South Orange Avenue), at a cost of $50 per person
  • Arrange for a limited power of attorney so our management company could arrange utility bills on our behalf
  • Fill out an International Tax Payers Number (ITIN) so the USA can take back what is owed to them after our expenses are deducted

And that was it!  The rest is taken care of by the realtor and then the management company.  Once you’ve decided on a property then a couple more things are needed:

  • Deposit (we transferred via TransferWise straight to the closing company)
  • House survey at a cost of $550 for wind, woodworm, and a basic survey
  • We would recommend a full survey in hindsight

Then (of course) the big transfer of the rest of the money before closing….. see this link.

Feel free to contact us if you need any more advice.