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Patricia Tan – Perspectives – International REAL Estate

Patricia Tan

5 Things Foreigners* Ask About Spending Time in Florida

By Patricia Tan

Over the years I have worked with real estate buyers from many countries around the world. Their home countries and the properties they buy may vary, but their questions remain the same. Here are the top five questions I hear from overseas customers considering a longer stay in Florida:

How long can I stay in my Florida vacation home, without running into visa issues?

Once an overseas visitor has purchased a vacation home here, they can apply at the U.S. Embassy in their home country for the B1/B2 visa. This will allow them to come and go at will, but they do need to count the days they “have feet on U.S. soil”. Staying for more than 182 days in any calendar year may mean they become resident for U.S. tax purposes, and they will have to file a U.S. tax return on their worldwide income –something most people choose not to do!

Who will look after my home when I’m not there?

It’s no surprise that professional Home Watch services abound in a state where many homes are left unoccupied for long periods of time. For a set fee per month, or per visit, these companies will send a representative to visit unoccupied homes periodically, to make sure all is well – air conditioning working, no plumbing or roof leaks for instance. These services should always be provided by a professional company, and not just a neighbor making a few extra dollars on the side.

Pat Pic 500

How easy is it to insure property that’s not occupied full time?

Florida is a state where many people own a second home. Most insurance companies who operate here are familiar with the market and will have a policy to cover property that is unoccupied for periods of time. Some of them may reduce premiums if the property benefits from a regular Home Watch service.

Should I buy a car or rent one every time I visit?

If the driver doesn’t mind driving a small car, at the discretion of the car rental company, then a rental car picked up at the airport may be the cheapest option. If they are particular about the kind of car they drive, their home has a garage, and they really want a car to transport bicycles, kayaks and golf clubs, they may want to buy a car. Some auto insurance companies offer discounts if the car is used for only part of the year. When the car is left unused for some time, steps should be taken to keep the battery charged of course.

What if I need medical treatment in Florida?

Medical care is readily available, but what about the costs? The cheapest way for foreigners to obtain medical insurance for longer trips is through their travel insurance company in their home country. Most will extend cover for longer periods of time, but arranging this will involve a conversation, rather than simply ordering the standard travel policy online. One of my British customers, who spends about 20 weeks a year in their Florida home, cut her finger and went to an urgent care office. She had to have stitches and antibiotics, and 2 more trips to the office. She tells me she paid for the treatment on her credit card and then it was an easy process to claim the costs back from her insurance when she returned home.

*NOTE some of these comments may not apply to Canadian visitors and home owners.

patricia-tanPatricia Tan was born in England, and her career in international sales and marketing led her to live and work in many countries around the world before moving to Sarasota in 1997. Patricia is a Certified International Property Specialist (CIPS), Graduate Realtor Institute (GRI), and Transnational Referral Certified (TRC). She is involved in global activities of the Sarasota, Florida and National Association of Realtors, and currently serves as NAR President’s Liaison to U.K. Her real estate business operates from Coldwell Banker on St Armands Key, where her focus is to bring international buyers to the local market. She regularly makes marketing trips to Canada, Asia and Europe, to promote Florida’s Gulf Coast and the Sarasota area in particular. Patricia may be reached at 941-504-9232 or Pat@PatriciaTan.com.

Copyright © 2017 REAL Exclusive Magazine www.getrealexclusive.com
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