• How should I prepare for closing?

      • If obtaining a mortgage to purchase your property, meet all lender requirements for final approval of your mortgage.
      • Ensure that you have funds available to pay your closing costs prior to your closing. When requested, GTS will provide you with a draft HUD-1 Settlement Statement and final figures as soon as we have all necessary information from your lender.
      • Obtain a Certified or Cashier’s check payable to “Gibraltar Title Services” for the amount due at closing. Alternatively, you can arrange to send the amount due via wire; if you chose to wire your funds, contact your Closer for wire instructions. **Unfortunately, we are unable to accept cash or personal checks.**
      • Contact your homeowner’s insurance agent to determine your coverage needs and comply with all insurance requirements set forth by your lender. Provide insurance information (company, annual premium, paid receipts for any amounts paid before closing, etc.) to your Closer as soon as you pay for coverage.
      • Arrange the transfer or set up of utilities and cable at the property.
      • Confirm that your Closer is aware of all parties’ needs for closing, such as one party requiring documents to be mailed, another needing to close at a specific GTS branch office, etc.
      • Bring a valid government issued ID, such as a driver’s license, passport, or military ID, to your closing.

  • What is title insurance?

      • Title insurance protects the insured (owner or lender) in the event that a title claim is made, a lien discovered, or superior property rights revealed after closing.
      • There are two types of title insurance, owner’s title insurance and lender’s title insurance. Owner’s title insurance is generally issued in the amount of the purchase price of the property and protects the owner for as long as the owner or his/her heirs own the covered property. Lender’s title insurance typically covers the lender for the amount of the mortgage on the property and protects the lender against title claims that would otherwise impair value of the lender’s security for the loan, the property.
      • Although an examination of the abstract (history of the property as shown in the public records) of title during a title search (process of determining whether facts revealed in the abstract have been interpreted correctly, confirming no clerical errors exist in the public records, and checking to make sure all claims or rights of others have been extinguished) may reveal some defects in title, others may not be found before the time of closing. This makes title insurance crucial for owners and lenders.

  • What happens at closing?

      • Final HUD-1 Settlement Statement is reviewed by all parties present and signed.
      • Lender and GTS closing documents are reviewed and signed.
      • Funds are collected and disbursed.
      • Homestead exemptions, including requirements for application, are explained.
      • All questions concerning the purchase and/or sale of the property are answered.
      • Final title policies are issued and original recorded documents (deeds, mortgages, etc.) are mailed to buyers and lenders shortly after closing.

  • What is a HUD-1 Settlement Statement?

      • A form required by RESPA (Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act) and Regulation X of the HUD (Department of Housing and Urban Development) regulations that states the actual charges and adjustments paid by the buyer and seller at closing.
      • The HUD-1 is required for most real estate transactions involving federally related mortgages and is often used as a standard form for other real estate closings, since it provides a thorough accounting of transactions.

  • What should I know about homestead exemptions?

       (Florida State Statute 193.155 and Chapter 196)

      Homestead exemption amounts and application

       

      • Florida state law and the Florida Constitution provide for numerous exemptions that lower the taxable value of certain properties, saving residents money in property taxes.
      • The homestead exemption allows for a deduction of up to $50,000, the second $25,000 of which does not apply to school taxes, off the assessed value of a property owner’s primary residence.
      • Any person who has legal title to real property in Florida on January 1 and “who in good faith makes the property his or her permanent residence . . . is entitled to an exemption from all taxation, except for assessments for special benefits, up to the assessed valuation of $25,000 on the residence and contiguous real property.”
        • Intent to make property a permanent residence. Each county property appraiser makes the factual determination of whether a person intends to establish a permanent residence. Factors relevant to that determination, none of which are conclusive, include: place of employment of applicant, location where applicant’s dependent children are registered for school, applicant’s previous permanent residency outside of Florida and the date that residency was terminated, applicant’s voter registration, issuance of valid Florida driver’s license to applicant, issuance of a Florida tag on a motor vehicle owned by applicant,  address on applicant’s federal income tax returns, proof of payment by applicant for utilities at the property being claimed as applicant’s permanent residence.
      • Every person who qualifies for the above-explained exemption is entitled to “an additional exemption of up to $25,000 on the assessed valuation greater than $50,000 for all levies other than school district levies.”
      • Application for homestead exemption must be made with the county property appraiser on or before March 1 of each year.

       

      “Save Our Homes” cap on assessed value of homestead

       

      • Properties are reassessed annually on January 1. The “Save Our Homes” Amendment to the Florida Constitution provides that changes resulting from reassessment cannot exceed the lower of:
        • (1) 3% of the assessed value of the property for the previous year; or
        • (2) The percentage change in the National Consumer Price Index.

       

      Portability of homestead exemption

       

      • A homeowner may transfer, or “port”, all or some of the “Save Our Homes” benefit of on his or her homestead to a new homestead, so long as the new homestead is established within two years of abandoning his or her previous homestead.
        • Limitation on “port” amount
          • If the value of the new homestead exceeds that of the most recent previous homestead, a homeowner may port up to $500,000 of capped value to his or her new homestead.  For example, if the previous homestead was worth $600,000, but had an assessed value of only $300,000 (a $300,000 cap differential) and the new homestead is worth $800,000, that new home will be assessed at a maximum of $500,000 in the first year, with subsequent increases capped under “Save Our Homes.”
          • If the value of the new homestead is lower than that of the most recent previous homestead, the amount of cap differential that may be ported is determined by dividing the assessed value of the previous homestead by the just value of that homestead and then multiplying that figure by the just value of the new homestead. For example, if the previous homestead had a just value of $1,000,000, but was assessed at $750,000, the new homestead will be assessed at 75% of the just value in the first year, for a cap differential of up to $500,000. Again, subsequent increases in the assessed value of the new homestead will be capped under “Save Our Homes.”

       

      Other exemptions

       

      • Other exemptions, also reducing the taxable value of real property, include exemptions for:
        • Deployed servicemembers
        • Blindness
        • Conservation
        • Disabilities
        • Living quarters of parents or grandparents
        • Historic preservation
        • Surviving spouses of military veterans or first responders
        • Senior citizens
        • Widows/widowers
      • Please contact your local property appraiser to determine whether you are eligible to receive the above exemptions